Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Taking A Vacation... The Right Way

Americans typically take the least amount of time off and/or vacation time from their jobs than in any other industrialized nation in the world. From paid vacation time to maternity leave to family leave, The United States is notorious for offering-and taking- little when compared to European nations, Canada, and even parts of the Far East.

If it can be tough to get a significant amount of time off from an established career for a vacation, what does that mean for someone currently searching for new employment? Everyone likes to take vacations, and just because you are currently looking for or starting a brand new job doesn’t necessarily mean that your family vacation is cancelled for the year. The key is to ask for the minimal amount of time off needed in a timely, respectful fashion.

What exactly does that mean? How do you ask for time off when you don’t officially have any “time off” to ask from? Very carefully! The first thing to always remember is to be honest. If you already have an August vacation planned and you are in a first interview that you feel is going well, let the interviewer know that you have a pre-planned, pre-paid family vacation that you wish to go on. Offer this information at an appropriate time during the interview, and explain to the interviewer that you would be more than willing to work extra before or after your time off (or even possibly do a small bit of telecommuting during your vacation)—whatever it takes for you to be able to keep your already made plans.

The employer will usually be honest in return, either sharing that your time off shouldn’t be a problem, or letting you know right away that the time off won’t be possible. You can then decide what is more important for you—this particular job or your vacation. Human resource professionals admit that a pending vacation (one week long or less), as long as not during a critical time of the year, would not affect their decision in hiring who they feel is the right person for the job.

If you have a vacation coming up soon, you may want to suspend your job search until after you return home. You want to make yourself available for interviews at the employer’s convenience, and it can give a poor impression if you get a call from an HR representative and are not available. If you wish to continue searching for a new job with a vacation coming up in the next few weeks, you might consider a line in your cover letter addressing your availability for interviews. One idea might be something along the lines of “I will be available for interviews, at your convenience, anytime on or after June 10th, and look forward to speaking with you in person regarding positions within your Firm.”

Most Human Resource professionals would discourage asking for any significant time off (more than one or two days) once you start a new position, until you have officially earned it. Instead, take advantage of long holiday weekends for family getaways and short vacations. Once you have “earned” vacation time, make sure you don’t ask for time off during crucial business times (tax time for Accounting firms, end of company fiscal years, etc.) and show respect for your co-workers who may already have requested certain time off. Seniority does have its advantages!

The professionals at Steffan and Company can help you navigate a job search around a pending vacation, as well as help prepare you for interview questions regarding time off needs. In fact, Steffan and Company can help you easily navigate through all aspects of finding new employment, including resume editing, interview coaching, and individual preparation for all aspects searching for and securing a new job. Take the guesswork out of searching for professional employment—let Steffan and Company do the work for you. They are the best in the area at what they do—placing qualified professionals in great jobs working for top companies. Call today and find out what they can do for you!