How To Negotiate More Vacation Time Without Sounding Entitled

Photographed by Erin Yamagata.
Congratulations! You've made it to the negotiation phase of a new job. At this point, you should feel assured they want you (they really want you!) — and hopefully they want to show just how much.
Remember that your compensation over time is really a package; your earnings can go beyond money. Some people might ask for flex-hours or more PTO if a boost in pay is off the table. If you know your future job won't make it easy to use that extra time, accruing all the days in the world isn't the best exchange. But if you'll be able to make good on those added vacation days, you should ask away.
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"We do want to match competitor offers so telling us about your previous vacation policy could be useful in your negotiations," says Colleen Zanicchi, senior VP of HR at Pentegra. She says many companies, including hers, have a published vacation policy, so do a little research to see where the bidding might start. (And if you know a few who already work at that organization and can ask for the lowdown, investigate with them.)
When you make your ask, be gracious and acknowledge the compensation package you are being offered before you make your counter. Then, Zanicchi says, you might say: "'Thank you for the offer. The package looks great — but I would like to revisit the vacation policy. This is what I was getting at my last job. Can you match that amount of vacation time?' Or: 'I was hoping for more vacation time. Is there any wiggle room in your policy?'"
It never hurts to ask for what you want, she adds, but what you'll actually get depends on your job level, expertise, talent, and experience. You might learn through the grapevine that a future colleague gets way more than you're being offered, but you don't know their full situation.
Try to learn how your background parallels theirs before you assume you should be on par with them. Perhaps their on-the-clock schedule is much more demanding than yours or maybe they carry more years — and therefore more seniority — to make such demands. Either way, when you make your ask, you'll have to focus on why it's a fair request for you and your situation, not to mention whether it will be feasible for the company.
"A few days or a week more than the standard package could be reasonably considered, but really depending on job level," Zanicchi says. So don't go too wild when you dream of those out-of-office escapades, but absolutely make the ask.
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