Need to request time off before you've even landed the job? It can feel awkward, but here's how to score your dream job AND your dream vacation.

You've been planning your dream vacation for months. Everything is scheduled: your flight, your hotel, your activities, your meals, even your Instagram posts — you're ready to go.

The only thing in your way? A potential new job.

It might feel awkward asking for time off from a job before you're even officially hired, but unless you're willing to cancel your plans (which you shouldn't have to do), you'll need to bring it up.

Don't worry too much. If you're lucky, your hiring manager will ask you if you have any time off planned, which could also include a week-long staycation between jobs. If you're not asked, though, you'll need to know how to tell a prospective new employer about your planned vacation thoughtfully.  

Use these tips to help you score your dream job and keep your dream vacation (or staycation!):

1. Convince them you're the perfect fit

The company you're interviewing with doesn't have to let you take time off. That's why it's important to convince the team you're the absolute perfect fit for the job.

Build your personal brand, perfect your elevator pitch, and polish your resume. Remember to tailor your resume to the job listing and pack it with relevant skills, qualifications, and experiences.

Then, when it comes to talking about taking time off, you'll have convinced them they can't hire anyone else, so pushing the start date back or allowing you a few days off won't hurt.

2. Nail the timing

Unless the employer broaches the topic, don't bring up your vacation plans during the start of the interview process. This is something you'll want to discuss later on, closer to the job offer when the hiring manager starts discussing logistics. Listen for, “When can you start?” Once the hiring manager asks this question, then you should bring up your pre-planned vacation. It's not uncommon for hiring managers to ask, so be prepared to answer at any time throughout the interview process.

If your prospective employer didn't ask this question, another great time to mention your vacation is when they are reviewing the company's benefits package with you.

3. Don't apologize or ask permission

When it comes to asking for time off before a new job, exude confidence. Instead of asking if it's OK to take a vacation, simply state that you already have a trip planned. This isn't an unheard of dilemma; employers should know how to handle these situations. It's simply a matter of how you state it.

Don't let the employer try to talk you out of your vacation, either. If that's the case, you might want to consider if the company's culture is a good fit for you.

4. Keep it short and sweet

If you're nervous about asking for time off before starting your new job, jot down a quick script. Your request doesn't have to be more than two sentences. Here are a few examples:

  • “Because we're discussing start dates, I wanted to let you know I have a trip planned from September 23 to September 29. I'm happy to start that following Monday.”

  • “Since we're on the topic of vacation days, I wanted to let you know I have a trip planned for the month after my tentative start date. Can you explain what the company's time-off policy looks like and how this will be handled?”

Once you've shared this information, wait to see how your point of contact responds. There's no need to give too many details or justify your plans.

Final words of advice

Breathe! You've already done everything you can to sell yourself as a solid candidate. When a hiring manager begins discussing start dates, you know you're close to a job offer, so proceed with confidence.

The best way to ask for vacation time before starting a new job is to simply be straightforward and honest. And remember that this is an understandable situation, so don't be afraid to just ask.

Need some help finessing your resume so you can get everything you want when it comes to a job offer? Start with a free resume review.

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