When going through the hiring process, your potential employer may ask you to sign a non-compete agreement. A non-compete restricts where you can work if and when you leave your new job. The idea behind the contract is to keep employees from working for competitors within a small geographical area.
According to CNN, millions of workers sign non-compete agreements, but some do not recognize it. Generally, a company may ask executives to sign non-competes because it keeps the executive from bailing a new company with its secrets.
Should you negotiate a non-compete?
Be careful when you have to sign any paperwork for your new job. Some employers hide the non-compete within the business handbook. Before you sign the contract, you can negotiate the terms. Talk with your employer about whether he or she may negotiate some elements. For example, maybe you want to narrow down the geographical area the non-compete applies to or perhaps you want it to last a shorter time.
Should you take non-competes seriously?
Some people sign a non-compete under the idea that the company probably will not sue them anyway. Companies will file lawsuits against former employees who violate non-compete orders. If you do fear you may be violating a non-compete, you should contact your former employer. Send a letter explaining how you do not believe you violated the order and give the company a few days to answer.
Generally, companies file lawsuits against former employees when the employees begin to take clients. For example, if you move to a new company or start your own business with the clientele from your previous company after signing a non-compete, you may face litigation.