Answered by Dana, Hiring Expert at ManpowerGroup, on Thursday, February 19, 2015
Regarding the first question: I think this all depends on the position you’ve been hired for, why you were hired and what kind of company dynamics are going on, and how far in advance you let them know about the vacation.
Typically, I preferred that my candidates told me about any upcoming time off or vacation plans as we approached an offer, or just after they had accepted the offer. Sometimes candidates are wary about mentioning an upcoming vacation to recruiters or Hiring Managers until after things are set in stone, e.g. they’ve been hired and issued a start date. That is not unusual. If you’ve already accepted an offer, or you’ve recently begun a new job, this is probably a good time to bring it up, even if the vacation is still a month away.
But be wary: If you were hired to replace a critical team member who left suddenly, or to tackle a serious set of issues or projects that are time sensitive, you may come to realize that it’s not comfortable to take time off within the first six months. Trust your gut, and observe what your colleagues are doing and how they handle PTO requests during this time frame.
I think most companies would be very understanding, and naturally expect that you would want to take at least some time off during the first six months, unless there are odd circumstances going on, and they have informed you about this in advance. It’s healthy to have a strong work-life balance, and taking some PTO can ultimately help you to be a more productive, successful, and happy employee.
Ask your recruiter or HR contact how time-off is accrued or distributed at this company, though, and if you are allowed to “borrow from the future.” If you won’t have enough PTO hours earned by the start of your vacation, you might be able to take them anyway, putting your PTO total into the negative, without any penalty or negative consequences. Then you may be able to continue to work and build this back up to a positive number over the ensuing months. But find out if the recruiter or HR contact recommends this, and if it’s appropriate for a brand new employee to do so.
Regarding your second question: I would take all of the PTO you are given. If you get three weeks a year, take all three weeks. It’s important for you to have that balance, and establish this as a priority for your wellbeing. The only cautionary note would be to make sure you are not taking it all at once (unless they’ve told you this is OK), or during a “high season” when a lot of senior employees are off. You may need to be strategic about when you use your vacation time, to ensure adequate coverage for your team.