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Reading the Fine Print on Your Non-Compete
Increased "information theft" has forced many companies to add non-compete agreements to their regular contracts, restricting employees' future career plans, as well as their spare time activities while on staff. Do you know what you're signing up for?
Job seekers have enough power in this job market to negotiate the agreement so that it's not detrimental to their career.
Joining a high tech or multimedia company can be one of the surest routes to a lucrative career. All you have to do is work a few months, soak up the tools and tricks of the trade, and then get hired away by another company at a higher salary or apply your skills to a new venture.
But there's just one catch: increased "information theft" has forced many companies to add non-compete agreements to their regular contracts, restricting employees' future career plans, as well as their spare time activities while on staff.
"When I was hired, I wasn't really thinking about what would happen when I left," says Kristin Barker, who signed a non-compete agreement when she started with Envision, a production company. Like many young employees with little experience in the working world, Kristen didn't worry much about the clause. "It was just something I had to sign, like another piece of paperwork." But as non-compete agreements become more common in other industries besides high tech, it is important to recognize what they mean and what your rights are.
The Fine Print
"These situations are going to become a lot more prevalent," Courtney says. "All of a sudden people are going to be bound to one employer at a time when it's very common for people to have three or four employers in a year's time."
What the Courts Say
Until there are more legal precedents, or until non-competes become more standardized, your best bet is to read the fine print on your non-compete agreement before you sign it. Protect your rights where you can, or at least be aware of the ramifications.
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