Should I Ask for Time Off Before Starting My New Job?

Dear Work Coach,

I am currently unemployed but have a 2nd interview for a job. I also have a friend coming to visit me from overseas in 10 days for 2 weeks. Would I completely kill my chances of being hired by telling my potential employer (who knows I am not currently working) that I can either not start for a few weeks or that I need some time off just after starting my new role? As this friend is coming quite soon, I don’t feel it’s something I could mention right after being hired either. How do you handle these pre-arranged life engagements while interviewing for jobs?



Hi J!
Good question. You’re smart to think this through, since things like this can leave a very bad impression unless handled correctly. The good news is, depending on the type of job, they may actually have allowed for flexibility as to when the job starts because an employer understands that most people have a real life and other obligations. Of course, if this is a job where they need coverage immediately, then that answers your question.

Your best bet is to go through the entire interview process and see if you get the job offer. When they bring up the start date, if they tell you there is an absolute date with no give – then again, you have your answer. But if they ask you when you can start, that’s the time to ask if it’s ok to start the day after your friend leaves. No need to tell them the details — just tell them you have prior personal commitments that you’d really like to take care of if at all possible. If they say they need you earlier but sound fairly friendly about the whole thing, you might try asking nicely if there is any way you could have a couple of days off or maybe leave early on some days to take care of those prior commitments. (Asking for the whole two weeks after starting probably would be a deal breaker – and if not, it could start you off in a very bad light. I’d stay away from that one if I were you.)

If you really want this job and they need you to start before your friend leaves, then be prepared to spend time with your friend during non-work hours and just chalk it up to bad timing. I know that sucks, but these things happen. If it’s a good job, do what you can to start off on the right foot.

Of course, you may not want to work for a boss/company that shows absolutely no flexibility and reacts badly to your even mentioning your needs, so pay particular attention to how they react. As long as you’ve asked politely and shown that you are flexible, a good employer should at least respond in kind – even if their answer is “no”.

Everyone has a personal life and may have some loose ends to tie up before starting a new job. On that point, I found this on a blog called Overpronator:

Everyone has a personal life that exists separately from their job. You can’t schedule your cousin’s bar mitzvah around a product launch, and you can’t clear your calendar before you take a new job.

So when you’re figuring out which job to take, be upfront about what sort of time you expect to be taking for yourself. If you want Tuesdays off for kickboxing class, then say so. If you have a vacation planned for two weeks after the proposed start date, then say that. Some jobs have unmovable start dates, and sometimes your personal life will preclude taking a job.

That’s OK. Why bother with the absurd job-interview song-and-dance where you pretend that your personal life doesn’t matter, and that only getting the job matters? You wouldn’t want to work for anyone who had that attitude, so why pretend to have it yourself?

But assuming you like the job and the people and yet they can’t accommodate any of your requests, you probably want to play it smart and just go ahead and meet their start date. There are often good business reasons why an employer needs you to start sooner than you’d like…if that’s the case here, show them you’re a team player and come in 100% committed to doing the best job you can. Don’t feel like you’ve lost anything – you’ve gained a job and a new adventure that can lead anywhere!

Good luck getting the offer and good luck working this all out.

Ronnie Ann


About the author…

Ronnie Ann, founder of Work Coach Cafe, bases her real-world advice on her many years as an organizational consultant where she helped interview and hire people, added to a certificate from NYU in Career Planning & Development and her own adventures as a serial job seeker. She can also be found on her new blog, and on Google+.


  1. zino korichi says:

    please i’m struggling to write a letter to my boss asking him to let me do my other which’s a new job to me and a better pay, my current job with him it is only part-time working for him for nearly 6 years. Now that i have a new job starting soon, he is trying to make it difficult for me not to co-operate to let me take some time off because the new is so important and better pay and he know that even i told i want leave if you help me not to work for you certain days.
    can send semple letters to me please
    kind regards,

  2. Sorry zino.

    I don’t create sample letters for my readers. If I did, I’d never get to leave the computer! 😉

    And to be honest, I don’t quite understand your situation. If he doesn’t respond to a one-to-one meeting with you respectfully asking for what you need, then I am not sure a letter will help. If there is a human resources person there, maybe he or she can help you? In any event, I wish you much luck getting to the new job.

  3. Sachin says:


    I am currently working full time and have been just offered another full time job… I would like to accept tis new job and continue my current job as a part-time position. My new employer is asking for a P45 otherwise I will pay more tax in this job… How can I avoid this happening?

  4. Hi Sachin!

    Unfortunately this is not an area I know anything about. I never even heard of a P45. Sorry I can’t help.

    I wish you much luck figuring this out and making the best decision for yourself!

  5. So i’m starting a new job at an airline, an they are usually pretty strict about attendance and such, I did the interview already and i got the job but i failed to mention of a travel arrangement i already have a month from now. How should i go about with talking to a manager about the situation?

    • Hi Joe!

      Actually, this is something to mention in a final interview or when accepting. Contact them as soon as possible. Employers don’t like surprises like this especially if they’re counting on you. Best to think ahead of time what you will say if they say you can’t go. I hope that doesn’t happen, but I’ve seen cases where it does. Good luck making it all work out for you!

  6. ChristinaC says:

    So, I just started this new job, and I was wondering how long should you be working for someone before ask for time off?
    I would like to go to a friends for new years and I would be taking 4 days off.

    What should I do??

  7. Hi Christina!

    First…congratulations on the new job!

    As for your question about asking for time off, there’s no general answer. Some companies have formal policies in their handbooks, often saying you can’t have paid days off until you’ve worked a certain amount of time. Others, keep it informal and decide on a case by case basis. You haven’t been there long, so please know they might say “no”. Also they might say “yes” but with no pay. This is not unusual.

    On the other hand, they might be totally ok with it, advancing you some vacation days if you haven’t earned any yet – especially if they feel like things will work out. All you can do is ask politely, knowing they are totally within their rights to say “no”. If that’s the answer, be ready to go with it, ok? A good job is worth hanging in for.

    Good luck!

  8. Hi,
    I have landed a new job but don’t start for 4 weeks. I also have made plans to go to a wedding overseas in September. My son is the page boy. We will be going for 11 working days. I want to know how to ask/tell my new boss about the trip. I didn’t mention it in the interviews or acceptance correspondence as I didn’t think of it until now. Should I email and ask before I start or should I wait till I start work. It isn’t untill 6 months after starting.

    • Hi Scarlett,

      Tough call, but I think it would probably be worse to wait until after you start to bring this up.

      Before I let them know, I would see if I could figure out a way to be gone for fewer than 11 working days. That’s a very long time to be gone from a new job, close to half a month if this is a typical 5-days-a-week job. For most employers in the USA, 11 days are more days off than the average employee earns the first year, and many employers would be reluctant to give the whole vacation period to someone who hadn’t been there a year yet.

      Assuming you know the vacation benefits for the new job and that you will have earned a few days of vacation by the time you need to leave, I would offer to take some/most/all of those days off without pay.

      Good luck with this!

  9. Hello, i could use some help, I have a job interview tomorrow and the employer already loves me,
    we have spoke on the phone a few times and emailed about he job vacancy, The vacancy is an
    immediate start (not sure if this means next day) but i have 5 hospital appointments the week after the interview & im worried if they do want me to start the next day i won’t be able to and this will cost me the job? I am really worried please could you help

    • Hi Kim,

      Most employers do not expect the job seeker to start immediately. Explain that you have some long-standing appointments that you must keep this week, and cannot start until next week. You do not need to explain what those appointments are for. He should understand and be flexible about your start date.

      Good luck!

  10. Hello!! I was wondering if you could help me with something!

    I just had a job interview, and while it may be presumptuous of me, I really feel like I nailed it. With that being said, I am trying to plan out the future for this position. You’ll see why..

    It is 4/12/2012. I am getting married/honeymooning from 5/12-5/18. They don’t have a definite start date, but she said it would likely be around 4/30.. Now, if I received an offer, before I accept it, should I mention that I would need those dates off? I am thinking if I warn them in advance before I accept, they might be more accommodating. I did not mention this in the interview, because I didn’t want it to ruin my chances. I feel like since they aren’t sure when the position will start, they might allow a big thing such as a wedding slide? Any suggestions on how to go about telling them if/when (I am hopeful) I get an offer? Thank you so much!!

    • Hi Rae,

      I think you are right to let them know before you accept their offer, so they don’t feel like you hid something important from them. And, of course, make it clear to them that you do not expect to be paid for that week away from the job.

      If you can afford it, consider the possibility of starting the job after you return from your honeymoon. It could be a bit awkward to have just a couple of weeks on the job (the last 2 weeks before your wedding, no less) before disappearing for a week. You might not be able to give your full attention to your new job with all the “wedding stuff” going on in the background, and that wouldn’t be good for you or for them.

      And then all the “official paperwork” for the IRS, etc. would have your new name (if you are changing your name when you get married), eliminating the need for more paperwork to update everything with your new name.

      Let’s hope that you have this “problem” to resolve! That would be excellent!

      Good luck!

      • Hi Susan,

        The recruiter called me and asked how the interview went, and if I would accept the position after having the interview and meeting with my potential managers. I figured it would be a great time to bring up the days off that I needed, and luckily for me, they were VERY understanding. I just got a call today to let me know they want to offer me the position and I should be getting the written offer in the mail tomorrow. 🙂 THANK you for your advice! I now feel comfortable and am happy they are aware of the situation beforehand so I don’t seem like I am keeping anything from them just to get that offer. I feel very relieved, so thank you again for your help!


      • CONGRATULATIONS, Rae! That’s wonderful news! Thank you for sharing it with us.

        Hope all goes well in your new job!

        Good luck!

  11. Hi!
    Please help!! My situation is that I live in Puert Rico and went to an interview in united states. the job interview was very quick, it literally lasted a minute and a half, I had to rush thru my conversation and I couldn’t ask them much about anything. I got the job and I will start in 2 weeks, however I will need 3 days off in a month after start date. How should I handle this? Call or email and how to approach them.


    • Hi Alice,

      I think that this kind of situation is better handled over the phone, rather than email. Particularly when people don’t know each other well, the “tone” of the email is easily misinterpreted. When you have a voice on the other end (for both parties), it’s much easier to pick up clues about how things are intended and also how they are received.

      Think about what you want to say in advance. Maybe write it down, and say it out loud a couple of times. You don’t want to sound like you are reading something but you do want to be sure to say everything that you need to say and say it correctly.

      Good luck!

  12. I’m a university student, currently looking for a summer job, and I have a question about asking for time off. While I’ve not heard back from any locations as of yet, if the opportunity arises for an interview, I’m wondering when would be the best time to tell my potential boss that I will be traveling this summer for school? I will be attending a field school overseas from July 24-August 30. Since that’s such a huge amount of time and during the tourist season, I was wondering when would be the best time to mention this to a potential employer? Is this something I should include in my cover letter/resume? Should I mention it in the first interview? Or wait until an offer for a job is extended? No one can seem to give me a direct answer so I’d appreciate any advice. Thanks in advance!

    • chandlee says:


      This is such a large block of time — that I think you should address it by applying for summer jobs that have — or will accept — a definitive start and end date. Be upfront with employers and let them know your availability at the outset. Given that you will be away for five weeks and that it is a summer job to begin with, it doesn’t make sense for an employer to train you and then have someone else take your place while you are gone.

      Instead, I recommend you seek out applications for listings that are listed as temporary with a definitive end date — or call first and make contact with every employer you are applying to. When you have a conversation, you begin the process of becoming known to an employer. And getting known is what helps you get hired.

      Good luck!


  13. Hello,

    Iam joining new job from July 9,2012. I need an vacation leave of about 10 days in next month. (1th Aug – 22nd Aug) As iam married on May 6th 2012, since this is my first festival after marriage, i need to visit my in-laws. I would like to inform this to my employer on my joining date. Cud anyone plz help me with the official format to ask vacation leave to my employer.

    Eagerly Waiting for ur reply’s

    • chandlee says:


      I recommend you discuss this with your employer now — before you start. Otherwise, they may feel blindsided. I would mention this to them verbally rather than in writing; they may not be open to you being away for ten months in your first full month of employment. If you want to keep the position, you may need to be flexible on dates and duration of time away.

      Do not ever write to employers in the short hand language you are using now. Cud, plz, ur — are all inappropriate short hand to use with employers — that may be viewed as disrespectful.

      Good luck with your new job.


  14. Greetings Work Coach ,

    I have been recently offered a position , but they have not given me a formal letter stating salary , benefits and on the e mail they have given me a date to start which is not going to be possible due to my prioir comittments with my old Job . How do i address that to my new employeer . Regarding salary on the final round i had discussed on what numbers i am looking at i never got a definate answer or either a Yes or a No . I am switching from a midsize company to a very small company with in the same industry . I would really appreciate if you can help me with telling that i want the JOb yet, i need to know salary before i would make a decision . i am feeling by saying that will make me little arrogant and abnoxious and they might change there minds.

    • chandlee says:

      Hi Zane,

      Wait until you get the formal offer letter to start negotiation of terms including salary and start date — and once you get the offer letter, remember that you have to work with people if you get hired…so it is very important to be nice.

      Good luck.

      All the Best,

  15. how can i bring up going to school during job interviews, i have to leave 2 hours early 2 days of week, i really need to get this job , what shold i do ? thank you so much

  16. Hello,

    I need you opinion or suggestion. I got my dream job offer, it was verbal and followed by a letter. Time during my interviews didn’t allow for me to advise them that I had a pre-planned/paid family vacation which is about 6 1/2 weeks after start date. I called the recruiter the day after to tellet her but got her v-mail.
    I left a detailed message about my vacation plans and followed up with an e-mail. I haven’t spoken to the manager of the office where I will be working yet, I planned on telling them as well. It’s been a whole day since I left the message for the recruiter and she hasn’t called back.

    Do you think this could be a negative reaction? I am worried that they may be re-thinking about the employment, but I am prepared to choose the job over the vacation, although I will be losing money invested.

    What do you think?

    Thank you:)

    • Carrie,

      Remember that people have other things going on in addition to job offers. A day isn’t a long time in the scheme of things. Call on Monday if you don’t hear back tomorrow. Don’t leave a voice mail again…You need to have an actual conversation with them.

      Good luck and keep us posted.

      All the Best,

  17. Hi, I have recently accepted a new full time position with the city and I have an approved 4 day vacation in Feb from my previous employer. I am scheduled to start my new job on Dec 3rd. How do I ask for this leave? It’s already been paid for and I would be losing thousands of dollars.

    • Khloe,

      If possible, I recommend calling your supervisor before you begin the position. Let them know of the prior plans and ask for permission to proceed with your current plans — with the understanding that you will do whatever you need to do to make up the hours if you can do that. If possible, speak to your new colleagues rather than emailing them about it — then confirm in writing if they do approve it.

      Good luck,

  18. Hi, I am going for an interview this week (end of November) for a new job that would substantially improve my life circumstances . If I am hired, I am concerned about future week-long family vacation plans that have already been made in March. I am the type of person who never goes on vacation, so it is somewhat unfortunate that it lined up this way. For years I worked a job where I was on call nearly 24/7 and everything I did in my life was planned around my job. I am definitely the type of person who devotes myself fully to my work. I understand that such things should not be discussed until an offer is on the table, but I can’t stop thinking about it. If an offer is made, what is the best way of going about this? Normally I would blow off the vacation, but it is perhaps the last one I will ever have with an elderly family member who is in declining health. I would gladly forgo pay or work extra hours/undesirable shifts to get this time off.

  19. Nicole Parkins says:


    I need your advice asap. I just had an interview at a coffee shop in which i only plan on working weekends and have a feeling i nailed it and will get the position. The interviewer said he will call me a week from now to let me know if i got the job but the only problem is my family is planning to go to my uncle’s cabin in the poconos in three weeks. Should i tell my boss that i need the weekend off this far in advance or should in tell him that i can work friday and just go up a day after everyone else goes up (which would be saturday). I am not sure what to do but everyone i’v talked to about this said wait until i know if i got the job for sure.

    What do you think i should do?

    Thank you

  20. Hello,

    I’ve been on several interviews and not sure if I got the job, however I’ve made plans for 3 weeks from now. What happens if it’s a temp job? Does that change the situation? I just don’t know when to bring up my plans; it would only be for one day. I’m afraid that I bring it up than I wouldn’t get the job offer. I just don’t know what to do.

    Thank You

  21. Hello

    I have a job interview 4/1. I really want to get this job. However I have a honeymoon planned 4/22 for a week? Would it be best to tell them I can start the date following my vacation? Or should I tell them I can start immediately and when offered the job I mention the days off?

    Thank you

    • Hi Kate,

      NOT a good idea to start out with a new employer by essentially lying to them about when you can start. Some employers would pull the offer at that point and not hire you, viewing you as someone they couldn’t trust to be honest.

      If – during the interview process – they ask you when you can start, be honest. Tell them 4/29 (or whenever) because you will be on your honeymoon starting on 4/22. Most employers will understand, and if they really want to hire you, they will wait. If they don’t ask you about when you can start during the interview process and you do receive an offer, then explain about your scheduled honeymoon trip and negotiate the start date to be after your trip.

      Good luck!

  22. Hello
    I have a job interview next thursday 10/17 and my family has scheduled a family weekend trip to Canada the weekend after. So do I mention that I have scheduled a weekend family trip when they interview me? This would be my first job so I don’t wanna risk losing the job. Please help me out! Thanks (:

    • Susan P. Joyce says:

      Hi Alexis,

      If this is a typical office job, I doubt that your family weekend trip will be significant to your job search, perhaps if it was going to last a couple of weeks that could possibly have an impact. But a weekend should not be a problem.

      The employer is probably interviewing several people, and I doubt that they will need to contact you the weekend after your interview. Things don’t typically move that fast for most employers.

      Good luck with your job search!

  23. Hi!

    I accepted a job offer on September 2, 2014. During the offer I was not asked about preplanned vacation and it completely slipped my mind. I start on September 22 and my days off are supposed to be Friday, September 26 and Monday, September 29.

    I just sent an email and asked if it would be okay and said I can cancel it otherwise. I am very nervous as I do not want to make a bad impression.

    Please help me out! Should I just cancel it?

  24. kcaccount3 says:

    Hi Work Coach,

    I’m currently looking for a new job, and am optimistic I’ll get a callback. However, I have an out-of-state surgery at the end of February, and the dates aren’t flexible. I’d unfortunately be out of town for approximately two weeks. Should I let my interviewer know, or wait until after hire? I’d prefer not to wait until March to start.

    I know that I can’t be fired / reprimanded for a legitimate medical purpose (and would obviously have a medical note), but I’d feel guilty withholding that information prior to being hired. The position is a State job, but I don’t know when the benefits would kick in (or if that would generally look bad). Any suggestions?


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