Job hunting is daunting in itself, and there is nothing more thrilling than seeing an email with an interview request. As questions fill your head and you begin to prepare for your interview, there is one question you need to make sure you ask. Will you be required to sign a noncompete agreement?
How does an employer’s right to protect their interests apply to you?
Depending on your job title and duties, a noncompete agreement might prohibit you from using information gained at one company to benefit another in a similar role. These clauses typically specify a timeframe and location in which you agree to limit certain activities that could potentially take business from your employer.
It is common for businesses to use noncompete agreements as a means of protection for their interests. However, these restrictive covenants often create challenges for potential new hires and, in cases of an acquisition, current employees.
You don’t agree with an employer’s specified limitations, they may not hire you. Yet if you violate the terms of their contract, you could face a lawsuit.
What can you do?
You probably understand why an organization would want to keep competitors from gaining access to their proprietary information. However, can you retain your options while also releasing some of your rights to your employer?
Three things to consider before you agree:
- Understand the terms and conditions. Make sure you read through the entire document before you sign it, so you know what your employer will expect.
- Negotiate for modifications. Ask your potential employer to change some of their conditions, to allow your more freedom. For example, would they be willing to decrease the duration of your contract to lessen the amount of time you would need to wait before accepting a similar position elsewhere?
- Continue job hunting. Don’t stop looking for a job until everything is in place and you have copies of your completed onboarding paperwork.
In some situations, a noncompete could benefit your employer without restricting your earning ability. Before you enter into a legally binding agreement, think about what you are willing to give up accepting the offer before you. Then, regardless of what you decide, proceed accordingly.