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Friday, April 23, 2010

job offers and lengthy pre-planned vacation time

A reader writes:

I find myself in a really tight position here. I am going to an interview tomorrow for a job that I would really like. However, in less than a month I’m going on a pre-planned family visit in China for a little over a month (May 21 to Jun 29). It is nerve wracking because I do not expect things to happen so close to each other.

I already have a job where they say they will be happy to keep me. So even if they do not hire me I am not going to be jobless. But I really want to get a job that is more in line with my degree.

I am really irritated right now and I hope you can help me out a little.


Don't be irritated. The situation is just going to (maybe) require you to make a clear choice between what's more important to you: the trip or the job.

Now, if the trip were a week or two, it would likely be a non-issue. But given how long it is, you're right to be prepared for it to give them pause. Of course, it depends on how long they take to make a decision too; the longer it takes, the safer your trip gets. Most employers are willing to wait a month for the right person to start and sometimes a bit longer. 

In any case, here's what to do:

1. Go on the interview. Don't mention the trip; you don't need to give them a reason to discard you at this stage.

2. After the interview, start figuring out whether or not you even want the job (you never want to decide you do before you've ever interviewed anyway; that's like deciding you want to marry someone hot you see on the street and have never spoken to). And if you do want the job, do you want it enough to either cancel your trip or shorten it, should it come to that?

3. If you get a job offer and you want to accept it, explain that you're in a bind because of this pre-planned trip. And if you're willing, tell them you're willing to shorten the trip and negotiate to see how far out you can push the start date.

But ultimately this is going to require you to be really clear in your own head about what you want more. And clarity isn't such a bad thing.

[By the way, if they haven't made a decision by mid-May, let them know you're going out of the country on May 21 but will be checking email (you'll be checking email, right?) so they can reach you.]

10 comments:

GC (God's Child) said...

awesome advice. . . no need to count the chickens before they've hatched

Brian said...

Great advise. I recently was stressing a little because I had interviewed for 3 positions in less than a week and 1 of the positions I really wanted, 1 I would be happy to accept, and the 3rd I wasn't real excited about, but had been unemployed for several months and would take if offered. The middle position came back quickly saying they were going with an internal candidate. The favored position said they really liked me but had internal delays and the 3rd position was interested, but was also not moving fast. This ended up stringing along for 3 months before the 3rd position finally dropped me and then the following week the favored position came through with an offer.

The upshot is that companies move at their own pace and you shouldn't stress too much about timing. (VERY hard to do when you are the one in the hot seat!)

Class factotum said...

I was offered a new job after I had already gotten the tickets for a two-week trip to Ireland. Before I accepted, I told them about the trip. They said, Whatever, go on the trip. I told them they didn't need to pay me for that time, which was only five weeks after I started, but they said it was too much trouble to get payroll involved.

Anonymous said...

I'm actually glad this question has been answered here.

GC is right - don't count your chickens before they're hatched. I think the worse scenario here is to shorten the trip. If the OP is going to a wedding or a family reunion, then she should probably go, but if she's has to leave early, then so be it. She shouldn't have to lose (all of the) money she invested into the trip at this time.

Good luck, OP, on your interview!

SiuM said...

Thank you for your answer.

I just came back from the interview. I think I did great but I did mention the trip because they were asking my availability during the summer. I didn't feel like lying to them at that moment. However, I felt like the rest went pretty well. I knew I made some mistakes. I guess if I don't get the job it's still a pretty good learning experience for me. Like I said, my current employer is willing to keep me.

Thank you for your help anyways!

SiuM said...

Thank you for your answer.

I just came back from the interview. I think I did great but I did mention the trip because they were asking my availability during the summer. I didn't feel like lying to them at that moment. However, I felt like the rest went pretty well. I knew I made some mistakes. I guess if I don't get the job it's still a pretty good learning experience for me. Like I said, my current employer is willing to keep me.

Thank you for your help anyways!

Christine said...

I'm glad to hear the applicant advised the potential employer of the trip. I disagreed with the advice not to tell them until after an offer was extended. If someone did that to me I'd feel duped and find them untrustworthy. I think there are chances between the first interview and an offer to give this information and not ruin your chances at the job.
Glad to hear it worked out that way.

Karl Wolfbrooks Ager said...

You have to tell them about your trip. Any cultural or business experience you have with China right now should go in your favor!

Derek said...

I have noticed in several of your articals that when you discuss an unknown gender you tend to use the feminine. Is that intentional? Is that the proper grammer?

Ask a Manager said...

I find having to constantly say "he or she" awkward, so I just go with "she," since I'm a woman.