You’re about to sign the offer for your dream job when you realise…it conflicts with that even dreamier holiday you booked six months ago.

After all the interview prep and networking, you don’t want to turn down a great job for 14 days of fun. This is your career here. But, like, the tickets are non-refundable. And let’s be real: You need a break before jumping back into the grind.

Asking for time off before starting a job is awkward, but totally reasonable, according to The Harvard Business Review. Everyone at the company has PTO, right? With a straightforward, considerate, and solution-focused ask, you can have a job and that bucket-list backpacking trip, too.

Seriously. It’s not a big deal. As long as it’s obvious that you booked your holiday before realising that it’d clash with work, most hiring managers will be sympathetic.

Time it right
Now that we’ve established that you can ask for time off, speak up. The key here is to ask at the right time.
Don’t wait until you’ve already started but wait till they make the offer. Don’t try to hedge around the question by asking about paid time off during the interview. Instead, HBR recommends you wait until they’ve already committed to you. Think about it: If they’ve already picked you, they’re planning projects with you and your specific skill set in mind. They probably won’t go back on that commitment, and restart that whole process with someone else, for just a few days off.

Write yourself a script
Like you should for salary negotiation, write and practice a script. The HBR suggest framing your ask as a ‘happy sandwich’, first, express your gratitude. Then mention your holiday plans before presenting workaround and emphasising how excited you are to start.
What exactly you should say? Depends on your situation. When you explain why you’re taking your vacation, consider the message behind your words and how it aligns with your new company’s culture.

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