Employers often have employees sign non-compete agreements, because it’s one way to guarantee that those employees won’t leave and join another company with information that could impact their businesses. As an employee, you may wonder if you have to sign an agreement like that, though, because if you do, that agreement could limit your career options.
Many businesses do require, and enforce, noncompete agreements, but you should know that you have an opportunity to review a job offer and the noncompete agreement before you accept it. If you’re told to sign a noncompete agreement, you may want to take the contract to your attorney to make sure it’s fair or to help with negotiating a better arrangement.
Don’t you need to accept a job offer when it’s made?
You will likely feel pressure to accept a job offer, almost like the employer is doing you a favor by offering the role to you. However, you do have something to offer the company, so it’s reasonable to take time to consider your starting date and the noncompete agreement that you’re signing.
Resist that pressure and tell the employer that you’d like a copy of the documents and to review them, even if it’s only for 48 or 72 hours. Take that time to reread the contract, mull it over and learn about your legal options before signing.
What if you disagree with a noncompete agreement?
If you disagree with a noncompete agreement, the employer may decide not to hire you. However, in some cases, especially if you’re taking over a hard-to-fill role or have specialist skills, the employer may be willing to negotiate a more customized contract with you to keep you on board.
Remember that a noncompete agreement will specify a length of time when you can’t go into a competing industry or to work on competing projects. For example, if you’re in IT, you might be told you can’t switch to the same industry in a specific prohibited territory for two to five years, and the company would be in their right to do that. Long-term agreements like that should be considered carefully before you sign, so you don’t impact your career prospects.