When you want to make a good impression, but you also want to make the annual family beach reunion.
Q: I am graduating college and will soon be starting my first job. My family has an annual beach vacation and reunion, and this year it is scheduled about five weeks after my job’s start date. I am debating whether it is appropriate to ask for three or four days off so soon, especially because I am aiming for a small promotion at the four-month mark.
My manager has mentioned that this company does not have specified limits for time off (number of days or seniority), so I do not think that there is any company protocol that would prevent me from taking the time. I do not want to make a bad impression, but I would really like to be able to see my extended family. Would you suggest sending an email to my manager as soon as possible, waiting until a few weeks after I start, or just accepting the fact that I will not be going to the beach this year? — Sylvia, Boston
A: While it may not hurt to ask — if you frame it very carefully — you should be prepared to gracefully accept a “no.”
To get in the right mindset, think about this from your new manager’s perspective. He or she may wonder why, if this is so important, it didn’t come up in the interview process. After all, it’s an annual event, not some just-announced one-off occasion that you couldn’t have anticipated. And given that it happens every year, the manager may further wonder if you couldn’t just skip it this one time — or at least settle for a visit that didn’t require four days off — out of excitement for or engagement with your new job.
Maybe you have good answers; maybe the company really does have a laissez-faire attitude about days off. And maybe you have other reasons for confidence in that rather ambitious goal of earning a promotion in just four months, let alone whether this may undercut it.
But certainly emailing your request before your first day sounds like the wrong tactic; that will come across as if you’re still negotiating after accepting an offer. If you bring this up, do it in person, soon after you start. That way you can make sure it is coming across as a humble inquiry, not a presumptuous and tone-deaf demand. You can also more clearly gauge the reaction — and this soon into a new job, I suggest dropping the request if you detect any hint that it’s going over poorly. More important, if you accept and understand the possibility of a “no,” you will not be so disappointed. And maybe you will be pleasantly surprised.
Welcome aboard! By the way, I’m leaving
Q: I work in a field that, by its nature, has a relatively frequent turnover rate, especially at the more junior levels. In the course of managing my own career, I have sometimes found myself interviewing someone whom I want to add to my team — even as I am in the process of interviewing for another position and potentially leaving the company. Worse, there have been a couple of occasions when I have hired someone, only to resign shortly afterward.
My question is, how much am I obligated to reveal about my own work status to the job seekers I am interviewing? Obviously nothing is certain until an offer is made and accepted. But it feels a little strange to tell someone you just hired that you are leaving the company you just welcomed that person to. — M.W.
A: As a general rule, it’s certainly true that even if you are interviewing elsewhere, nothing is certain until it’s certain. So you can hardly inform a job prospect that you may be quitting; that would be reckless.
Trouble is, a general rule only gets you so far, and a lot depends on the specifics. For both personal and professional reasons, it’s better to avoid completely blindsiding job seekers who may have made a different decision if they had more facts. Suppose, for instance, you’re close to bringing on a new recruit — but you also think you’re on the verge of getting an offer elsewhere that you would accept. Consider holding off on making that hire until your situation is clear, and then be honest about it. If you still believe the recruit should take the job, even though you will be gone, then say so, and explain why.
Since you explicitly mention hiring for “your team,” I assume that working with you may be part of what the job seeker finds appealing about this new position. If so, think of ways to soften that: Make sure recruits meet other managers and team members, making it clear that they should feel good about working for this organization in general, not just a specific individual. The idea, as you think through any particular case, is to consider the process from the applicant’s point of view — and how you would want to be treated in the same position.
All of that said, you can be responsible only for the aspects of the process that are under your control. While it’s jarring when someone who just hired you immediately moves on (it’s happened to me), that is also part of the reality of the work world, in plenty of fields. (And after all, any given hiring manager may also be transferred, or even fired.) Operate according to a genuine belief that this new employee and the organization will ultimately prove a good match. That way, any unpleasant surprise will fade, and the relationship will take its course whether you’re in the picture or not.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times. Submit questions to Rob Walker at firstname.lastname@example.org.