Today's Ask Dem Should I go on holiday

Hi Dem,

I work as a sole owner for the first time this year. What am I supposed to do regarding time off? I used to have 2 recruiters working for me who would cover my work but I fired one and the other left and I want to stay on my own for now.

I have an answering service that takes messages for me. I want to go away in April but knowing my luck, lots of good job orders will come in when I take time off! :-)

Any ideas?


The ability to have a flexible schedule and take time off are two of the major reasons people go solo to begin with, so you absolutely should do this, do it guilt free, and trust one thing that I have learned the hard way, often going years without a holiday because I thought my budding empire would fall apart:

  • Your world will not end while you are on holiday. There will still be jobs and people to recruit who can do them upon your return. It takes thousands of years for evolution to change the basic human dynamics that make this true, so unless you are immortal, catch a plane to Zanzibar, for crying out loud.

Having disposed of the guilt, let's talk business. I think it’s tacky to have a voice mail message that says the office is closed during April while you are on holiday. You're not an ice cream stand or car wash, dependent on seasons or precipitation. What your clients hear when they get this message is:

"Hi, you've reached a not very committed recruiter with very few resources, so if you had any thoughts of a long term, serious relationship, you should probably call elsewhere".

Technology allows us the illusion of 24/7 service. People expect voice mail, so they're not offended when they get a message saying you're out and you'll call back. Leave your email address on the message as an alternative. The only language to add is this:

"The week of April 2nd I will be out of cell phone range and may have a hard time returning your call on the same day, but I will get back to you as soon as is humanly possible".

This buys you time. Now here's the hard part:

You chose this profession, and you made a good choice. It has incredible rewards and privileges. In return, you don't go on sabbatical like an academic. You NEVER earn that. You have to check in once or twice a week and put out fires. Respond only to what is urgent and important. Let the rest pile up. You might say that doesn't allow you to totally unplug. Then you're in the wrong business. You get to unplug 90% of the time as a sole owner on holiday, but the trade off is you get more holidays. I think it’s a fair deal. Tons of flexibility and material rewards in exchange for setting some time aside once every few days to return calls and emails?

Not bad. Now call your travel agent!