“Negotiate for more”
If you had to choose between more money or more paid vacation time, which would you take? If you’re like a lot of folks I talk to, you’d go for the time off. The money would be nice, but most say it’s time off to be with family or to indulge in a hobby that they’d pick.
I notice this trend especially when someone is changing jobs. After they’re offered a position and the negotiations begin, job hunters are asking for an extra week or two of vacation-even if that’s not company policy.
Traditionally, American firms determine vacation based on how long you’ve been with the company. For example, 82% percent of American employers give at least two weeks vacation to salaried exempt employees after one year, says Hewitt Associates, a management consulting firm. After five years, 75% offer three weeks.
Employees around the world seem to have more of what American workers want-in some cases nearly three times more. Vacation time in other countries is often mandated by law, regardless of how long you’ve been with a firm, says Hewitt Associates.
For example, if you work in Denmark, after one year you’re eligible for 31 days of vacation (this is based on a six-day work week.) Finland and Austria both give 30 days of vacation, based on a six-day work week. Only Mexico offered less vacation days than the U.S.-six days after one year of service. In most cases, it’s only after 15 or more years of service that you are awarded time-off allowances similar to those mandated in other countries, says Ann Leeds, a Hewitt consultant.
Some firms now offer a bonus week of vacation when you reach certain milestones. Others let employees buy additional paid vacation days. But even with flexible arrangements, U.S. companies can’t compete with these mandated vacation allowances.
A word to the wise: when you’re negotiating for your next position, don’t assume that the number of vacation days a company offers is the final word on the subject (even if it’s their policy.) Most employers will bend to get a quality worker. But don’t put so much emphasis on the issue that it sounds like you’re more interested in the benefits than the job.