Take time out to discuss holidays when hired

Take time out to discuss holidays when hired

If an organisation wants you, it will overlook an imminent holiday

 

Job interview: Save any concerns or questions about holiday or flexible working arrangements until you’ve received a verbal offer

Job interview: Save any concerns or questions about holiday or flexible working arrangements until you’ve received a verbal offer

 

The interview is going well and you think you might be the preferred candidate. But there’s a problem. You know that the hirer wants to fill the role quickly, but you have an extended holiday already booked.

Candidates get worried about anything they think may get in the way of a job offer, and time off work is high on the list. When is the right time in the hiring process to mention existing holiday plans, or ask about time-off policies?

A good rule of thumb is to wait until the organisation has decided that you’re the No 1 candidate. Save any concerns or questions about holiday or flexible working arrangements until you’ve received a verbal offer.

When the time comes to disclose your plans, think hard about what this really means, both for you and the employer. Even if you don’t have a holiday already booked, you might want to take some time off between jobs. But listen hard to the employer’s problem list. If it’s vital to get boots on the ground, you may have to think about losing deposits and cancelling flights.

But first, try the language of deal-making rather than the language of worry. Instead of identifying your holiday as a problem issue, mention it in passing as one of the minor things that need to be tidied up before you join, alongside finessing your contract and role description. You can also offer a “happy sandwich” of information – one negative between two positives. So, enthuse about the role, mention your holiday plans and then talk about what you hope to achieve in your new position. If the organisation wants you, the hiring team will overlook your holiday because “this is what I bring to the table” drowns out “I want.”

Rehearse how you’ll talk about your holiday plans with the same attention you’d give to disclosing any other negative. Anything you think might get in the way of a job offer will get in the way – but only with your help. For example, talking about commitments outside work could pitch you as a well-rounded personality, or could plant the idea that your job is not your primary focus. As you practice what you’ll say, pay attention to the messages you’re foregrounding – how much of what you’re saying is about your world, and how much is tuned in to the employer’s perspective?

If you enter a discussion talking about needing a break, this may suggest that you’re burned out. If your schedule is already overstuffed with personal matters, how much are you communicating the idea that you’re hungry and ready for a new role?

Hirers can often come across as tough cookies, but they want to be liked as much as you do – or, at least, they want you to look and sound as if this role is the perfect next step in your career. And what they want from you is high commitment and low risk. If you can demonstrate both of those, you should be able to get the job you want and the time off you need. – Copyright Harvard Business Review 2015 John Lees is a UK-based career strategist

Previously published in The Irish Times.

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