3 things you need to know about start-ups and noncompete agreements

Okay, the dream of going straight from university into a graduate job is long gone. The average career path usually moves through a few internships, an obligatory period of unemployment, many failed interviews and then maybe working at a start-up. The demand for staff combined with the desperation of graduates means that start-up jobs will become more common and with those (sometimes) come noncompete agreements.

So, first things first, what is a noncompete agreement? In short, it’s a clause you sign when dealing with new products that states that you agree not to “enter into or start a similar profession in competition with the party you’re going into business with”. It’s basically a safeguard to protect intellectual property.

The issue with these noncompete agreements is that they usually last a few years and you might find your hands tied if you’re offered a job you legally cannot take.

Here are three things you need to know about noncompete agreements.

1. Feeling grateful is short-term

You know that exciting feeling you get on your first day of a new job? That will fade. Sorry, it will. Similarly, you might be super grateful for a job offer with a noncompete clause but you can’t predict what’s going to happen in the future. You might have a multi-million pound idea you legally cannot pull the trigger on because you worked for three months at a similar company.


2. Read the fine print (please!)

As Mashable point out: “templates of legal documents are widely available on the web these days, it’s possible that your employer downloaded a generic form without tailoring any of the content to your specific hiring”. The positive of this is that there’s plenty of room for negotiation.

Firstly, check the duration of the agreement since that will determine your future, as we’ve mentioned. The agreement can also specify locations where you aren’t allowed to work for territory purposes. These things need to be double checked!


3. Move to California

All in all, moving to work abroad might just be all-round good career advice but what’s better is that state law says that noncompete agreements are illegal. This means that job mobility is very common. You will have to sign NDAs and that kind of thing as not to trade secrets but your future will be a lot more open than anywhere else in the world; the surfing scene is great, too!