How to Tell My Boss I Want to Join the Military Reserves

Your military service may become a point of pride for your company.
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So you’re a patriot – the kind of person who aspires to be the best you can be at your professional job but who also wants to serve and protect your country. You can successfully do both by joining the military reserves. Once you’ve chosen the right branch of the military for you – Army, Navy, Air Force or Marines – you must apprise your boss of your intentions. Remember that you’re not asking for permission; after all, the choices you make about your personal life belong to you. However, your boss will want to know how joining the reserves will affect your job, so prepare a reasonable and rational plan of attack.

    Step 1

    Research the branch of the military you wish to join. Know exactly what is expected of you as a reservist. At a minimum, you will be required to serve one weekend a month, which may not interfere with your professional duties, and one or two weeks a year. Military requirements are not negotiable.

    Step 2

    Calculate how much vacation time you have earned at your company. Then, create a schedule so that you can fulfill your reservist requirements.

    Step 3

    Ask your boss when it would be convenient for her to talk with you about “a personal matter.” Schedule a time that is largely free of distractions, such as before or after work.

    Step 4

    Proceed in a manner befitting the circumstances. If your boss knows nothing of your interest in serving in the military, brace her for the news bulletin. You might say, for example, “Well, I realize this may come as a surprise, but after a great deal of soul-searching and research, I’ve decided that I want to join the Navy Reserves.”

    Step 5

    Explain the requirements of the military reserves. Be very specific in explaining how the commitment will affect your job – the issue your boss probably most wants to hear about. Assuming that the one-weekend-per-month requirement poses no conflict with your job responsibilities, explain how you will use vacation time to fulfill the two-week service requirement. If your vacation time falls short of two weeks, offer to take unpaid time from your job.

    Step 6

    Acknowledge that in case of a national emergency, you may be called on to perform extra duties as a reservist. Offer to take this time as unpaid leave, too.

    Step 7

    Assure your boss of your commitment to the company and that it remains the focus of your full-time energies. Explain your rationale for joining the reserves, perhaps by saying that you view it as a way to demonstrate your patriotism while earning money for continuing education.

    Step 8

    Ask your boss if she has any questions about your intentions. If she is genuinely enthusiastic and proud of your plans, guide her to the appropriate Web site so that she can read about the reserves at her leisure. Your military service may well become a point of pride for your boss and your company.


    • Write down your thoughts before meeting with your boss. The writing process may help you to clarify your ideas.

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