How to Negotiate for More Vacation Time

charlie_imageIn starting any new job, most people are worried about one thing. MONEY! In the my mind, Rod Stillwell's request of Jerry Maguire is what I usually want to ask the hiring manager, “SHOW ME THE MONEY!!” In all the commotion of deciding to switch jobs often the other benefits are forgotten about. One of those important benefits to consider is vacation.

When agreeing to a salary with a new company vacation time isn't necessarily on your mind, and many companies will state upfront that “this is non-negotiable”. Or that all the other benefits are fixed and corporate wide.

Regardless, most employees or potential new employees hold a lot of leverage in justifying an increase in paid time off. However, walking this tightrope of being grateful for what you have vs feeling like you deserve more, is a balancing act that is tricky for even the best negotiators.

In breaking this problem down in my analytical head I see it coming down to “JUSTIFICATION”. Justifying why company XYZ should dish out more vacation for you. In looking at this problem, I decided to help lay out four justifications for more paid time off (either during the hiring process or for an existing employee):

  1. Previous Job Data – when pursuing a new employer, it can be helpful to show much PTO you were getting at your current job. If you had 10 years with your previous employer, and got 3 weeks vacation and potential employer X offers 2 weeks, then show them. Ask them to either compensate you with equal vacation time or increased salary. The important thing here is to come with proof on where you are at today.
  2. Ask For It At Your Annual Raise Time Рat most companies I know it doesn't say that annual raises will always be financial. Have you consider approaching your manager or HR manager to discuss being compensated with an increased amount of vacation time? Let's break it down. If you make $75,000/year and typically get a 4% raise, then that would be an expected $3000 raise. If you also get 2 weeks vacation annually, then you could justify asking for 4 weeks per year. Math: $75,000/50weeks = $1500/week pay.  That $1500 * 2 weeks = $3000. $3000 is equal to the 4% raise you would have gotten. Seems kind of ridiculous to ask for 2 more weeks of vacation, but based on the math it is completely justifiable.
  3. Prove You Deserve It – often times employers need proof that you are going above and beyond your normal job duties. This is why I'm a big proponent of T charts. On the left side of the T chart provide bullet points of what is in your job description, and on the right hand provide proof of how you are doing above and beyond of what is required for your title. (If a job description doesn't exist for your current job, then ask for it.) The big idea here isn't to have an attitude of “I deserve it“, but show how you are putting in more than the average. Stick to being analyitical about the problem at hand, and be factual when you present it.
  4. Find Statistics On How Much Vacation People Get In Your Career Field – this negotiation technique is probably one of the most difficult, because a lot of the stats you collect can be considered subjective. It's real important to have verifiable data by reputable agencies that isn't just off some website you found on the internet. Provide data on what others get in your career field, and show how you should be getting more vacation or pay.

These are just four small ideas that my help you negotiate your vacation time with a new or current employer.

I'd be interested to hearing from our readers on, 1) have you ever negotiated your vacation time, and 2) what techniques do you use to negotiate vacation time?

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