Insight News

Feb 06th

Is this your first job? How to take time off

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Arene was one month into her first summer job when her parents told her that they were all going out of town for the weekend. "But I'm scheduled to work," she told them. "You'll have to find someone to cover," they explained. So she tried. Two hours into the road trip, she was frantically typing into her phone and commented that she couldn't get anyone to take her shift. "I'm sure your manager will figure it out," her parents said. The puzzled look on Arene's face told her parents there was a disconnect. Arene hadn't talked to her manager.

People who have experience in summer jobs, internships and careers assume everyone knows what they know about taking time off. When it's a first job, however, it is helpful to have things spelled out. That's how the rest of us learned, after all. So, here are a few pointers on taking time off for those just getting started in the working world.

First, don't. Do not take time off because you were out late last night, have a party to get ready for or just don't want to miss out on the fun your friends seem to be having. Even in a single summer, there will be events you will want or need to attend (a college orientation, a family reunion, the concert of the century). Save your time off for these big moments. Workers who consistently show up for work are more likely to get the time off when it really matters.

Second, tell your manager first, in person. And be honest. Explain, my mom and dad planned this trip and I have to go along. Explain, the concert of the century is three weeks from Friday and I really want to attend. Then, ask permission. "Is it possible to take the day off three weeks from Friday?" You are giving as much notice as possible, allowing your manager time to figure out how to cover your shift.

After you ask permission, and if your manager agrees, say thank you, of course, and then ask if you should make a note anywhere. People who manage people are busy and often doing several things at once. Your request can be lost in the shuffle if it isn't written down. If the manager says, "No, I'll remember," then help yourself out by sending a quick text or email saying, "Thanks for the time off on August 3rd. I really appreciate it." Later, when the manager says she never agreed to give you the time off, you will have a written record of the conversation, and so will she. Trust me, this small gesture can go a long way throughout your career.

Finally, ask if the manager would like you to find someone to cover. If he says yes, then do your best, starting immediately. If you don't have luck, let him know about your progress. After Arene let her manager in on her problem, things got easier for her. The manager knew someone who was asking for extra hours and was able to easily cover the gap.

Asking for time off can cause anxiety for workers at any stage in a career, but doing it right and not very often can make the process smooth and painless.

Julie Desmond is IT Recruiting Manager for George Konik Associates. Looking for work? Send your resume to Julie at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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