One of the most common obstacles preventing people from changing jobs is their vacation time.
Let me explain.
Many of us start our jobs with a certain amount of available vacation time — say 1-2 weeks. With each passing year, more days are added to your yearly allowance. After a while, you may find that you now bank 4-5 weeks of vacation time every year.
It took you so long to earn that precious month off every year. The prospect of moving to a new job and starting over at 1-2 weeks seems terrible. So, you stay put in a job you don’t really love, a job you’ve outgrown.
But here’s the thing: Vacation time is negotiable. Especially if you’re interviewing with a major corporation, you have a good chance of negotiating more than the typical starting amount of PTO.
I get it. There’s a company handbook. The human resources team lays out the rules. Everyone starts with two weeks. When you start a new job, you start over.
In reality, everyone starts with two weeks until they negotiate for more. When you are negotiating your job offer, you can negotiate for more vacation just as you would negotiate for more money or a different start date. Just remember that you can’t ask for more of everything. If you ask for more vacation, you may not want to ask for a higher salary, for example.
Often, it is easier for a company to give you more vacation than it is to give you more money. Many employees don’t realize this because they themselves value vacation time more than they value a few extra dollars.
If you’re thinking of switching jobs, don’t let your current vacation time stop you. It’s very possible that your new employer will be open to the idea of matching your current vacation time.
Wait until you have a job offer in hand to ask for more vacation. When the time is right, explain that you love the new job, but that you have earned a certain level of vacation time at your current company. You would hate to lose that time.
If the company approves your request, be sure to get it in writing. An increased allotment of vacation days is often an agreement between you and your manager. If your current manager were to leave the company, how would your new manager know about the agreement? At a bare minimum, get your approved vacation time in an email so that you can share it with a new manager.
If you ask for more vacation, you very well might get it. It doesn’t always work, but if you don’t ask, you’ll never know.
A version of this article originally appeared on Copeland Coaching.
Angela Copeland is a career coach and CEO at her firm, Copeland Coaching.