job offers and lengthy pre-planned vacation time

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A reader writes:

I find myself in a really tight position here. I am going to an interview tomorrow for a job that I would really like. However, in less than a month I’m going on a pre-planned family visit in China for a little over a month (May 21 to Jun 29). It is nerve wracking because I do not expect things to happen so close to each other.

I already have a job where they say they will be happy to keep me. So even if they do not hire me I am not going to be jobless. But I really want to get a job that is more in line with my degree.

I am really irritated right now and I hope you can help me out a little.

Don’t be irritated. The situation is just going to (maybe) require you to make a clear choice between what’s more important to you: the trip or the job.

Now, if the trip were a week or two, it would likely be a non-issue. But given how long it is, you’re right to be prepared for it to give them pause. Of course, it depends on how long they take to make a decision too; the longer it takes, the safer your trip gets. Most employers are willing to wait a month for the right person to start and sometimes a bit longer. 

In any case, here’s what to do:

1. Go on the interview. Don’t mention the trip; you don’t need to give them a reason to discard you at this stage.

2. After the interview, start figuring out whether or not you even want the job (you never want to decide you do before you’ve ever interviewed anyway; that’s like deciding you want to marry someone hot you see on the street and have never spoken to). And if you do want the job, do you want it enough to either cancel your trip or shorten it, should it come to that?

3. If you get a job offer and you want to accept it, explain that you’re in a bind because of this pre-planned trip. And if you’re willing, tell them you’re willing to shorten the trip and negotiate to see how far out you can push the start date.

But ultimately this is going to require you to be really clear in your own head about what you want more. And clarity isn’t such a bad thing.

[By the way, if they haven't made a decision by mid-May, let them know you're going out of the country on May 21 but will be checking email (you'll be checking email, right?) so they can reach you.]

{ 20 comments… read them below }

  1. Brian

    Great advise. I recently was stressing a little because I had interviewed for 3 positions in less than a week and 1 of the positions I really wanted, 1 I would be happy to accept, and the 3rd I wasn't real excited about, but had been unemployed for several months and would take if offered. The middle position came back quickly saying they were going with an internal candidate. The favored position said they really liked me but had internal delays and the 3rd position was interested, but was also not moving fast. This ended up stringing along for 3 months before the 3rd position finally dropped me and then the following week the favored position came through with an offer.

    The upshot is that companies move at their own pace and you shouldn't stress too much about timing. (VERY hard to do when you are the one in the hot seat!)

  2. Class factotum

    I was offered a new job after I had already gotten the tickets for a two-week trip to Ireland. Before I accepted, I told them about the trip. They said, Whatever, go on the trip. I told them they didn't need to pay me for that time, which was only five weeks after I started, but they said it was too much trouble to get payroll involved.

  3. Anonymous

    I'm actually glad this question has been answered here.

    GC is right – don't count your chickens before they're hatched. I think the worse scenario here is to shorten the trip. If the OP is going to a wedding or a family reunion, then she should probably go, but if she's has to leave early, then so be it. She shouldn't have to lose (all of the) money she invested into the trip at this time.

    Good luck, OP, on your interview!

  4. SiuM

    Thank you for your answer.

    I just came back from the interview. I think I did great but I did mention the trip because they were asking my availability during the summer. I didn't feel like lying to them at that moment. However, I felt like the rest went pretty well. I knew I made some mistakes. I guess if I don't get the job it's still a pretty good learning experience for me. Like I said, my current employer is willing to keep me.

    Thank you for your help anyways!

  5. Christine

    I'm glad to hear the applicant advised the potential employer of the trip. I disagreed with the advice not to tell them until after an offer was extended. If someone did that to me I'd feel duped and find them untrustworthy. I think there are chances between the first interview and an offer to give this information and not ruin your chances at the job.
    Glad to hear it worked out that way.

  6. Karl Wolfbrooks Ager

    You have to tell them about your trip. Any cultural or business experience you have with China right now should go in your favor!

  7. Derek

    I have noticed in several of your articals that when you discuss an unknown gender you tend to use the feminine. Is that intentional? Is that the proper grammer?

    1. Anonymous

      Derek, I do believe that the word “articles” is spelled as such and not “articals” as you have spelled it. Just sayin….

  8. Blusie

    Really glad this has been asked! Here its 2011 and I’m joining a forum that others will probably still need to read (like me!). I have a preplanned 10-day vacay and hope it doesn’t affect a new employment opportunity.

    good luck to all of us.

  9. Jennifer

    My friend and I were planning a 3 day trip to fly out of state (Wednesday through Fri day)…earlier this year. She recently within the last 3 months started with Douglas County School District, Denver, CO… She was told when she got offered the job that the trip she had planned (and purchased room and airplane tickets prior) was good to go. She ended up getting a flu bug which made her take a couple days off last month sadly which used her accrued time off. She was told today by her manager that she is no longer allowed to take the already approved time off (unpaid or not) and which means she has to cancel. Is there any advice or ideas of how we can get her out of having to miss this trip? She was told she could not make up the time but there has to be a clause where they have to help cover the trip cancellation fees or something right? PLEASE HELP!

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Highly unlikely that there is such a clause. Her employer is a stickler about not allowing employees to take vacation time that they don’t have; it doesn’t sound like there’s anything that can be done about it, unfortunately. The assumption is probably that people will manage their own vacation accrual and not plan to use time they might not have. This is harder on new employees who haven’t accrued much, of course. It sucks, but it doesn’t sound like there’s much to be done.

      1. KellyK

        I’m seeing this late, but I would be asking them for reimbursement of whatever she can’t get back from her travel insurance. If it’s their policy not to let you use vacation time you don’t have, that’s all well and good, but they’re not letting her take *unpaid* a trip that she’s already been approved to be out for.

        Although I usually like the combination of sick and vacation time into a single pool (as long as it’s a good-sized pool) this is an example of where it becomes monumentally unfair.

  10. Chris

    I am in a similar situation. I am planning on going vacation tomorrow and I have a pending job offering waiting — meaning HR told me as soon as they check my references they will send out something to me. This means that I would have to submit my 2 week notice while on vacation. How should this situation be handle correctly? Any suggestions? My vacation is for 3 weeks out of the country…and it looks like I won’t have time to come back after my vacation and then give 2 weeks notice due to the company wanting to start as soon as I get back from vacation. Any suggestions on how to handle this situation with resigning while on vacation?

    1. KellyK

      It looks like I’m too late on this, but as a general comment, I’d suggest telling the new company about the issue and asking if they can wait until you’ve given your old company appropriate notice. Even if it’s done while on vacation, you should be able to get a week to wrap things up (and that also gives them a two-week heads up to work on replacing you).

  11. Suzan

    I have just been offered a position however my husband and I have planned a 3-week trip out of the country next May. I feel I should bring up the vacation when handing in my acceptance letter. Since this trip is partly paid for and our honeymoon, should I mention that or if contingent on the job, should I opt out of our trip? I’ve been out of work for 10 months and hate to turn down the job. Any suggestions other than what I have read. It seems all vacation or time off is within a 60 days. This is 6-months out.
    Thanks!

  12. Sara

    Was verbally offered a position and accepted over the phone. I have a 2 week trip booked for christmas to go to my home country and a one week trip planned in the spring, not booked yet. I would choose not to go on the trip if it would jeopardize My chances with the job but at the same time i really wanna see my family and the tickets were a big investment for me. Any HR people here with opinions?

  13. Anonymous

    Could you post this or something similar as a “Flashback Friday” or whatever? I’d love to see what more people have to say since you have more readers now than when this was published.

Comments are closed.