A CareerBeacon reader approached our team with a career dilemma that he was having. He wrote:
I was approached by a company to interview for a position that I would love to have. The trouble is that they need someone to start right away, but I have a destination wedding coming up. I will need 10 days off within the first month of work. I can’t not go, I’m part of the wedding party – but I don’t want to miss out on the opportunity. At what point do I mention it to the new employer?
– The Best Man (for the job)
How to tell a potential employer you will need some time off
Hi Best Man,
You have to be honest with them. However, I wouldn’t mention it as the first part of the conversation. Let the job interview unfold as it should. Discuss how you are right for the role, passionate about being hired for it, and anxious to contribute to the company’s success.
Only once you have sold your candidacy to the best of your ability, and the employer is set on hiring you, should you bring up the complications around your start date.
You can’t sign a contract under false pretenses, so when the employer asks about the timing of your new employment – how much notice you have to give and when you’re available to start, that’s when you mention the wedding.
Explain that you’re willing to start, and then take vacation time early – or start after the wedding trip, whichever best suits the company. When it comes to negotiating a job offer, there is give and take on both sides. If you start the new job before your trip, you will be borrowing against unearned future vacation time, so that is one more thing to negotiate for.
If the employer has sought you out, recruited you, and is convinced that you are the candidate for the job, then a ten-day window at the beginning of the relationship shouldn’t be a deal-breaker.
Of course, in some cases it could be. If it’s an emergency project that needs all-hands on right from the beginning, they the employer might choose not to hire you. However, that’s the risk you’ll have to take if you’re not willing to miss the wedding. You can’t sign a contract or start a new employment under false pretenses, and similarly, you can’t spring new information on them that wasn’t part of the deal on your first day. Either one will just sour your working relationship and hurt your professional reputation.
Be enthusiastic, sell your candidacy, and when the company is ready to make you an offer, then negotiate for the time you need.