How To Ask For Time Off At Your First Job


Watching the sunshine come and go from the comfort of your cubicle may not have been the “workplace culture” you envisioned.

Like Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, maybe you need a little holiday in the sun and the only thing between you and squishing your toes in scorching hot beach sand is figuring out how to tell your boss that you need some time off.

To help you get your necessary vacation time, we’ve put together a few tips and tricks to help get you out of the office and into relaxation-mode:

The early bird gets time off

If you know that you will be planning a trip to the Himalayas or even a few nights at the cottage, do yourself and your boss a favour and tell them well in advance. Putting it on the company calendar early will minimize how many things need to get moved around to accommodate your leave and generally make it much easier to say yes to your request.

Getting your dates in early is especially helpful if you’re looking for time off close to a statutory holiday, when other people in the office are likely to also be asking to head out. Whether it’s time off for a holiday or a few days to recover from National Grilled Cheese day (April 12), asking early will boost your odds of getting approval.

Put it in writing

If you’re like me, nothing will get done unless you write it down. When it comes to asking for vacation leave, puttin your request in writing will help you and your boss keep track of when and what you asked for.

Give your reasons

It didn’t work when you told your teacher that you couldn’t write the exam because you were planning on being sick that week and similar antics won’t work now. Rather than telling your boss you’re planning to have a family emergency, just be honest with them. Tell them what you’re hoping to do for your vacation or why you need the time off. Honestly, just be honest.

Timing is everything

Like getting to the gym just as the Kardashian’s marathon begins, timing is everything. When it comes to asking for vacation days, The Great Office Escape recommends telling your boss later in the day and later in the week, preferably Thursday or Friday, so that most of their work will be completed and they’ll be more open to your request.

Timing is also relative to the rest of the office. If Sally is planning to go to Hawaii and Jim is off getting that nose job he always wanted, it might not be the best time to see if you can get some time away from the office. Try to schedule your holiday dates so that they don’t coincide with other people’s time off or peak deadline periods and busy times in the office.

Don’t make people stretch, get flexible

Just like when you present a work proposal, when it comes to your vacation proposal, you want to come prepared with a plan B. Showing that you’re able to be flexible with your dates will help your boss work with you to make sure you get the time off that you want in a way that works for both you and the company. Robert Half recommends that, if possible, you provide your boss with a few options for dates or timings of your potential time out of the office.

Cover yourself

Before you leave, cover your assignments. Get your time sensitive projects out of the way and create an email and voicemail notification indicating that you’re away and who people can contact with inquiries in your absence. Update your team and your boss on what you’ve done so that everyone is on the same page. You may be a superstar in the office, but you’ll shine even brighter if you make it possible for things to continue on smoothly in your absence.

Photo credit: Joe Kirschling

About the author

Ishani Nath is a proud McMaster alum, aspiring writer and current journalism grad student at Ryerson University. When she's not hammering out articles, she can usually be found on a patio or nestled on a couch trying to keep up with those crazy Kardashians. She hopes to one day have a job that makes her excited to get up each morning, or at least one that gives her free food. Intrigued? Enthralled? Learn more by following her on @ishaninath.