March 12th, 2015

How to Negotiate More Vacation Time

Two weeks vacation each year just not cutting it? Before you accept your next job offer, steal these tips on how to negotiate for more vacation time.

You finally landed your dream job. This new company has a collaborative culture, a 401K plan, full medical and dental insurance, and an on-site gym, but here's the downside: only two weeks of paid vacation time per year. Suddenly, this dream job starts to lose its shine, especially since you are a self-proclaimed travel junkie. You most certainly are not part of the 41% Americans that did not take any vacation days in 2014, as Skift reported. In fact, you are the one that gets creative and tries to maximize every vacation day, as well as every floating holiday and federal holiday. Just last year, you packed your bags and went on a life-changing journey throughout Australia.

Is 2 weeks vacation just something that you are going to have to accept—especially if the job offer includes competitive pay? Almost half of all U.S. workers don’t negotiate vacation time and accept the first offer, according to a survey by CareerBuilder, even though employers expect to negotiate benefits, including vacation time.

Before you negotiate vacation time, consider the following and have a plan before you talk to the employer.

Work/Life Balance

Employers should be happy to hear that money isn’t the number one reason that you’re after a new job. Most modern companies believe in work-life balance and see the benefits of having employees that are happy, stress-free, and fulfilled. One argument that you can make during your negotiations is that recharging your batteries every so often is likely to make you more productive, as well as mentally and physically healthier. If the company doesn't see the benefit, perhaps it isn't the company for you.

Flextime/Telecommuting

In today’s working world, many workplaces are embracing flextime (working outside standard business hours) and telecommuting (working outside standard office locations).  So while an employer might gawk at the request for extra vacation time, the company might be open to discussing flextime or telecommuting options. Perhaps, for example, you can negotiate getting one Friday off a month in addition to your vacation time if you work longer hours. Or maybe you can convince an employer to allow you to work from home one day a week.

Projects to Work on Abroad/Remotely

If the company that is extending you a job offer has offices around the world, you could suggest that some of your vacation time could overlap with visits to these other offices. Be prepared to provide the employer with projects that you could work on while out of the main U.S. office.  For instance, more yearly time off could allow you to do field research, scout out potential business partners, and attend conferences/workshops abroad.

A Slightly Lower Salary

While taking a lower salary isn’t always a viable option, if you can afford it and would rather have more time off, then bring this up in the negotiations. A start-up or small company might see this as a perfect compromise, because it'll give the company more money to grow in the early days when cash flow is strained. Also, usually start-ups and small companies also know the importance of preventing employees from burning out and offering benefits that will attract young talent.

Remember: Negotiation is all about being flexible, so always remain professional and open. While you need to be realistic, it’s important to know your value, and if you get the feeling that the job isn’t the best fit during negotiations, be prepared to walk away.

Have you successfully negotiated vacation time? Have any tips? Let us know how you did it in the comments below!

Kathleen Rellihan is a travel writer and editor living in Washington, DC.

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