Dear Sam: I am in the third round of interviews with a company that I’m very interested in. However, their time off benefits are less than I am accustomed to or need. I am used to four weeks of vacation and a pretty constant stream of personal or comp days, but as a new employee, I am only being offered the cursory two weeks in my first year. What are the most effective ways to negotiate for more time off when applying to work in a new company? —Tom
Dear Tom: The good news is you are negotiating during what is considered the easiest time—during the job offer process. You should know that the normal amount of vacation time is about 10 paid vacation days after one year of employment; but of course, if you are negotiating a more senior-level role—which I am assuming you are based on the fact you are coming from four weeks of time plus personal and comp days—the expectation is that your full compensation package would be more robust than would be the norm.
The simplest way to negotiate for more time off would be to compare what you are leaving with what you are stepping into, asking the potential employer to match the time off. This is a very common request for those in a mid- and senior-level position, and it is often easier for human resources to grant versus going outside of a specified compensation band. To do this, simply say something like, “Thank you for the offer. I would like to revisit the vacation policy to see if you can match my current time off of four weeks per year. I would gladly accept the offer if you can do that.” The last part of that statement shows how serious you are about joining the company and that you are eager to get started if this one small ask can be granted.
According to research from Monster, about 50% of workers didn’t even try to negotiate additional vacation, 29% tried and failed, and 19% were successful in securing more paid time off. Most of us focus on negotiating compensation and forget about the rest of what can be a comprehensive compensation package! Don’t overlook time off as a way to boost the value of your compensation package. If you feel a little greedy asking for additional weeks, ask for several days or, better yet, put the ball in the employer’s court and say something like, “Can you do better than the two weeks of vacation?” and see what they come back with.
No matter what you do, please make sure you have your entire offer in writing. You do not want to get into a situation where a human resources manager or hiring manager neglected to communicate a modification to the powers that be. As most of us do not have employment contracts, just be sure, at a minimum, that you save your email communications confirming the modified offer. If the employer isn’t in the practice of documenting offers—which happens so many more times than I would ever expect—simply draft an email summarizing a conversation and seeking confirmation in response.
I am confident you will be granted additional time off if you pose the request in a professional manner and continue to reinforce how you are the best-fit candidate. At this point in the hiring lifecycle, the employer has already invested heavily in you and your candidacy and they are not likely to let that fall through their fingers for a few days off per year. All the best.