Non-compete agreements are more common than ever across many industries as employers strive to retain talent. As a job seeker, you should prepare for the potential that a job offer may include signing a non-compete agreement as a prerequisite to your employment. If you have never had to sign one before, it is important to understand the document and its legal enforceability.
Below are a few things to consider before you sign such an agreement:
Know the contract term
Before you sign a non-compete agreement, read the contract closely to understand the non-compete term. Some agreements prohibit you from working in a competitive role for up to two years after you terminate employment. Florida does not enforce agreements that extend beyond two years.
Understand the consequences of violation
If you violate a non-compete agreement, most contracts have established punitive measures, including an injunction to stop further violation and financial damages. These consequences apply even if you violate the terms accidentally, so make sure you understand the terms of violation before you sign.
Consider your long-term goals
Building a career means being prepared for growth and advancement. Sometimes that advancement comes from moving on to another company. When you sign a non-compete agreement, the contract may prevent that movement. Think about where you want to be in five and ten years, and ensure that the non-compete will not hinder those plans.
Sometimes it is in your best interest to have a non-compete agreement reviewed by a lawyer before you sign. At the very least, take a day to consider it carefully first. Making an educated decision about the contract can help you feel more comfortable about your choice. It is also highly recommended that employees concerned about the enforceability of the noncompete already signed consult with an attorney to obtain advice as to whether and to what extent the agreement may be enforced and what steps can be taken to reduce the chance of your employer filing a lawsuit against you and impeding your ability to advance in your career.