Knowledge is power -- especially in a society that is increasingly being driven by ideas and technological innovations. As a result, employers are increasingly anxious about losing control of their intellectual property.
From an employer's perspective, that means it only makes sense to ask employees to sign some form of noncompete or nondisclosure agreements in order to gain a measure of security and control over what former employees take with them when they move on.
If you're the employee, however, it may not make as much sense for you to sign that agreement -- especially if you have a desire to move on to bigger and better things in the same industry or area anytime soon. At the very least, it's important to consider a few important facts before you commit to anything.
Know the difference between noncompete and nondisclosure agreements.
Noncompete agreements stop you from working in the same industry for a certain period of time or within a certain geographical area if you leave your current employer. The goal is to keep you from taking what you know and using it to steal the business away from your current employer.
Nondisclosure agreements are somewhat less limiting. They generally just legally obligate you not to reveal anything you know about your current employer's business practices, developing technology, client list or other important information in the event that you move on to another employer in the industry.
Considering bargaining with your employer for a better deal.
If you are presented with one of these agreements, you may be hesitant not to automatically agree -- especially if you are just now being offered the job. However, it's perfectly reasonable to ask for time to review the agreement before you sign. Consider also having an attorney look over the agreement in order to get a plain-English explanation of its terms.
Then, if the agreement doesn't suit you, try to negotiate for a more acceptable version that will accommodate your employer's fears while still giving you the ability to pursue your career more freely. For example, you may be able to convince your employer to accept a nondisclosure agreement instead of the more-restrictive noncompete agreement you've been offered.
An attorney can provide you with more information or advice on contract litigation and negotiation.
Source: Monster.com, "What to Know Before Signing a Noncompete or Nondisclosure Agreement," accessed July 13, 2017