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How To Negotiate Vacation Days in a Job Offer

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Many people believe that searching for a job (especially in a difficult economy) can mean more work and stress than actually working full time at a job. But if you gotten past the interview process to the point of an offer, the most difficult part is over. Still, getting the benefits that you want, without coming across as too demanding or selfish, can be difficult. The most important part of negotiated benefits, such as vacation days, is remaining confident and calm.

Thank the employer or human resources officer for the job offer and express joy for the opportunity she is offering you. Be sure to seem genuinely glad and thankful, but do not gush or seem too desperate to take the job.

Ask the employer or human resources officer if there are standard or companywide benefits already in place for this position. If there are, ask for details; if there are not, then move on with the conversation.

Take your time when replying to the offer. Let the employer or human resources officer know that you would like to take some time to think about the offer, and discuss it with your family and loved ones. If possible, avoid setting a deadline for your decision.

Wait a few days if the position is relatively high up, and wait one day if it is an entry-level position. The higher the position is, the more companies are willing to wait and negotiate. Then send the employer or human resource officer a list of benefits you're hoping for. If there are a standard number of vacation days given and you want more, state a viable reason for needing the extra time. Maintain a warm, professional tone and end by saying that you're looking forward to reaching an agreement and beginning work.

Wait and evaluate the offer that comes back from the employer or human resources officer. If the new company accepts your vacation terms, complete the agreement. If the company does not accept your vacation terms, go on to Step 6.

Wait a few more days and then make a phone call to ask the company to offer an alternate plan for vacation days. Ask the company representative to describe why the alternative is important to the company. If the reply offer is agreeable to you, accept it. If not, make a counteroffer, explaining why these terms are so important to you.

Wait and review the company's counteroffer for a few days, stating that you'd like some time to consider its generous offer. Then either accept by telephone or in person, or let the company know that you'd like to look elsewhere.


Remain calm and confident. Keep in mind that your desires are reasonable.


Avoid making ultimatums--they can backfire.

  • Remain calm and confident.
  • Keep in mind that your desires are reasonable.
  • Avoid making ultimatums--they can backfire.

Cam Middour has an M.F.A. in writing from Columbia University, and has worked for "The New Yorker," "Narrative Magazine," and the Poetry Society of America. Her work is forthcoming, or has appeared in "New England Review," "Western Humanities Review," "Sarah Lawrence Review" and others. She has been writing professionally for seven years.

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