Don’t sign a non-compete until…

Don’t sign the non-compete…. until you review it with a lawyer.

I heard a heart breaking story last week of a high achieving job seeker who got an offer from an industry competitor. When asked if she had a non-compete by the recruiter, she responded no because she couldn’t remember signing one. She even asked a peer at her company who confirmed her memory.

Here’s the problem- during her orientation week when she started her first job, she signed a bunch of new hire papers. Including a non-compete. Because the non-compete was thrown in with the rest of the first day paperwork, she didn’t read it or even remember signing it. Her company rolled out non-competes for new hires shortly before she started so her peer who started a few months before wasn’t asked to sign one. Now she in a huge bind because she gave notice & found out after the fact that her company will try to enforce.

Non-competes are only growing in popularity. 20% of American workers are currently bound by these agreements, including 14% of workers earning less than $40,000 per year, according to a study by University of Michigan. According to the US Treasury, 37% of workers are asked to sign a non-compete AFTER they’ve signed a job offer. Ask in the interview if this is a practice.

Check out my original post on LinkedIn for a really rich discussion including legal industry experts. Thoughts?


  • Sarah Johnston

    I’m a former corporate recruiter and industry “insider” who got tired of seeing talented high-achievers get passed over for opportunities because they did not have the right marketing documents or know how to position themselves in interviews. I have relocated multiple times across the country as a “trailing spouse” and have had to execute job searches in completely cold markets (where I literally knew no one!) I have been named a LinkedIn Top Voice in the career space in 2019, HR Weekly’s Top 100 Most Influential People in HR, named the owner of the “best resume writing firm for experienced executives” by Balance Careers and a “top follow” by JobScan in 2019 and 2020.

Sarah Johnston

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