Q & A: They Asked When I Can Start – But I Have Vacations Planned Soon – What Should I Say?



I received this question from a job seeker client of mine recently. She has had a series of interviews with a preferred employer (woo hoo!) when she came upon this dilemma I bet at least some of you have faced…


I was able to land an interview (total of 3 for the same company and my top choice!!) and during the meeting asked me when I was able to start.  

I am currently unemployed and am able to start immediately ….. BUT….

I do have two trips that I booked over 6 months ago.

Problem is, my start date may fall in the next couple weeks meaning I would probably start and have to take time off almost immediately.  I don’t want to give the wrong impression but these trips were planned around the school calendar (aka spring break). 

Trip details below:

  • 5 day trip (within 3 weeks from now) – flying to a bachelorette trip far out of state.  Will be able to access email and can join calls/meetings when not in flight. (Probably won’t be an issue since the job is remote) 
  • One week trip (within 5 weeks of now): international trip planned during our school’s spring break
When is an appropriate time to bring this up or how do I present this? “


A bit tricky, to be sure, and also, I’m sure, she’s not the only job seeker that has had to figure this one out!
It’s impossible to know when you will be offered a job and the start date, people may have planned trips when they were employed, but are no longer with that employer that approved the trips, etc.



Well first, congratulations of some sort is in order … I’m not clear if you’ve been offered the job** (see below), but if not yet, that you are close to that possibility, so either way, that’s good!


The quick and best answer I can give is that it does depend on the above – the rule of thumb would be to not disclose about planned vacations until after an offer has been made, preferably in writing. Doesn’t mean they COULDN’T retract it, but that would be more rare after an offer is made and you’d have more leverage, knowing you’re their choice.


There really isn’t a “right” answer here, IMO, either way, though, because each employer is going to respond to that news differently.


Some things to consider. First, I’d ask yourself:


— are you willing to change/cancel either or both of those trips?

— are you willing to lose the job over either of them?

— are you willing to work for an employer that would force you to cancel/change the trip(s) to keep the job?


HOWEVER, if they haven’t offered yet, just hold tight & don’t say anything; employers can reallllllllly drag their feet and it may not be an issue, or, the timing might turn out that it will be obvious you couldn’t have waited or planned around them, for example. Whereas disclosing early could cost you the offer. Look out for yourself #1 – that’s what an employer will do after all.


Also keep in mind that it is very common for employers to have to wait for an new hire to give notice at a current employer, so the trips might not really matter – although, the fact you may be able to start immediately might be in your favor, it also means you may accept another offer if they drag their feet because you aren’t already working.


See? SOOOO many factors and unknowns at play here. I wish I could give you a black & white answer, but, in my professional opinion, these are all gray area considerations.





**I felt like if they HAD already made her the offer, then she would have


1) said that, in excitement and/or

2) not have asked me, because the start date/onboarding process would likely already be in motion, so she’d likely already have disclosed the trips, so I didn’t address that here.


However, my answer if she’d already been offered the job would be to disclose the trips at the offer because I feel like that transparency is warranted to start the job offer with trust and respect.


That said, I can also imagine that other employees, even other job search/career coaches, might say not to disclose until you’d started, when they were already invested in getting you onboard and less likely to say no or retract the offer. However – that comes with what I think are obvious downsides of not communicating important information in a timely manner to your supervisor… which I think is riskier than disclosing upfront.


You’d each have to decide which you’d rather risk for yourselves, all things considered – and YOUR situation / details would also be different, and those details would matter and influence the decision, of course)


Again, a lot of food for thought, a lot of ‘gray area’ in any scenario like this. How it is handled – by both parties – speaks volumes about the future of the employer/employee relationship, values, and “MO”.


Choose wisely, in accordance with what feels aligned with YOUR priorities.