Getting an offer is the endgame we want during the job hunt but you are also expected to walk away from one at some point. Most fresh graduates would jump on any opportunity to get their first real job, even if it wasn’t on a ladder they want to climb. But sometimes it’s the first offer isn’t always the best one. You have to look at the big picture when given an offer. How much the salary should be? Is it competitive or too low compared to similar jobs in the area? What is their benefits package? Are you really excited about this job or just any job? These are questions you need to ask yourself before saying yes and signing that contract.

I had to learn the hard way about asking questions. I was offered a job I’ve always wanted but it didn’t turn out as great as they advertised during the interview. Since then I made sure to ask questions and read the contract carefully. The second one is easy enough but understanding the legal terms on paper is the challenge. It’s best to research a few clauses that might be mentioned in the employment contract. I thank God I researched the day before negotiating the job offer with HR. Because this company had one clause that would’ve hindered my career.

Explaining the Non-compete clause

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To understand my decision, I would need to explain the clause mentioned in the contract. Under the “Non-compete clause,” the employee agrees not to enter into or start a similar profession or competitor after severing their ties with their employer. The length of time which the employee cannot enter the same field or profession varies. For some companies, it’s 6 months and for others, between two to five years. Breach of contract would cost you thousands.

Basically, if the contract you are signing has this clause you are going to unemployed for the length of time under the clause. Unless you find another profession that is not within the same field or competition of your previous company.  Usually, this clause is for an executive position job but lately, it has boiled down to entry-level jobs. Many companies have this clause to make sure their secrets won’t be leaked to the competition. It could also be a tactic for companies to keep their talents.

Why I had to say no

Fresh out of college being offered a job is a great thing but you always need to read the contract. Research is key here. You cannot walk into a job signing without knowing the legal terms. I am lucky the night before meeting with HR, I scoured the net about what I should expect in a job contract. Luckily, I came across the “non-compete clause,” if I didn’t then I wouldn’t be writing this blog post.

Walking into HR, I felt confident but at the same time nervous. I hoped that I could negotiate my salary without sounding like a brat. I also hoped they didn’t have that clause. Sadly, there it was written in the draft. I caught it immediately even before HR explained it. I asked for a more competitive salary than what they offered and to remove the clause. On the contract, the non-compete clause is enforceable for two years after termination.

Because if I said yes it would mean I would be trapped. The Non-compete clause not only hinders my career but also chains me to the company. They can treat me poorly or they can pay me poorly because they know I can’t leave. If I leave I’d have to be unemployed for two years or pay a hefty legal fee. I would be locked out of the industry I want to break in. It felt like I had to sell my soul along with my creative rights. So, I thanked them for their time and due to the clause, I would not work for them.

A Message for Jobseekers

I understand how exciting it is to start your career or even just getting a job but always read the fine print. You do not have to sell your soul or your career for your first job offer.

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