I'm currently a student about to join a cyber security firm in their SOC department. My worry is that along with everything else I sign they may force me to sign a Non-compete agreement which probably will state that I can't work this field for X amount of years in X states.

As a minimum wage employee at an entry level job I would like to have flexibility to grow and survive.

EDIT: The reason I brought this up is because the IT job I worked now as level 1/2 had that agreement. Granted they were a small shop but I've asked around and I've been told that this is a common thing in the computer field.

  • 5
    Where do you live/work? Often a non-compete is limited - or invalid if it forbids you to take on future work...
    – Daniel
    Commented Jun 25, 2018 at 17:44
  • 1
    i've not head of many minimum wage jobs with a contract, much less a non-competitive clause...
    – dandavis
    Commented Jun 25, 2018 at 17:48
  • 5
    It is less common to be asked not to "work this field for X amount of years in X states" as that would be WIDE and LONG restriction. Possible duplicate of Is this 3 years NCA reasonable for a 3 month contract?
    – Sandra K
    Commented Jun 25, 2018 at 17:49
  • You can try to negotiate anything you want, but doing so could also cost you the opportunity. See also: One-year non compete clause Commented Jun 25, 2018 at 17:53
  • 3
    I've never known minimum wage employees to get exposed to enough information where the employer would even care where you work next. If your work is valuable enough to protect with a non-compete, you shouldn't be making minimum wage.
    – cdkMoose
    Commented Jun 25, 2018 at 18:52

3 Answers 3


Non-competes are mostly just smoke and mirrors. Don't let that impact your job search.

  1. Don't speculate. Read the agreement in question (when the time comes) and then check whether there is anything objectionable in there.
  2. If you feel it's unreasonable, you can certainly negotiate. Be specific though: suggest very specific changes and/or mark up the agreement. That's not particularly unusual in the US
  3. Check your local laws. In many legislation non-competes are legal but not enforceable. That means, the company can ask you to sign it, but they can't take any action if you violate.
  4. Even if it is enforceable, the chances of a company going after a relatively junior employee are vanishingly small. Legal action is time consuming, complex, very expensive, and really bad PR. There is almost no benefit to the company, even if they do win . Why on earth would they do that?
  5. Any legal action is quite rare and almost always restricted to extremely senior employees of large companies, where there is enough money in play that it makes it worth the considerable pain of going to court.

What can I do?

First, you should find if they do have such non-compete agreement. If not, problem solved, no need to make molehills out of this.

If they do, and you definitely don't want one, then perhaps you should be looking for a company that does not ask for such agreements; it is unlikely that you will be able to negotiate your way out the NCA.

If a company has it, it's because they have reasons, and it is unlikely they will make a special contract just for you when everyone else has another.

However, don't just throw this option just yet. If they had a NCA, it would be wise to read it thoroughly first, to see if it's something you may be willing to accept or not.

Edit: As suggested in comments, you should also check (with a lawyer, perhaps) the legal enforceability of such document when you get a chance to read it or take a copy. That way you will make sure it's the real thing and not some made up thing.

  • 2
    You've missed another huge option - ensure that the non-compete is legally enforceable. Many countries seriously curtail such agreements between employer and employee because it's an artificial burden to working - something that's bad for pretty much everyone (Apart from the old employer).
    – Dan
    Commented Jun 26, 2018 at 12:15
  • @Dan good point. To know that, OP would have to read such NCA first, as suggested. After that a lawyer can be consulted to check if it has legal weight. Editing answer to include those possible future steps, thanks :)
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Jun 26, 2018 at 16:09

You read the non-compete agreement and see if it is acceptable to you. You could also post what country you are in - there are huge differences.

There are basically three possibilities: No agreement. A reasonable agreement that you can accept without worries. An unreasonable agreement. The unreasonable agreement comes either from a company that will do its best to rip you off, so don't even think about getting a job there, or from someone who went overboard trying to protect his company's valuable rights, and doesn't have the imagination to figure out it might be inacceptable to an employee.

That kind of offer, you tell them "your non-compete agreement is totally unacceptable, no reasonable person would sign that. Either that makes them think or it doesn't. If anyone says "it's just a formality and we would never enforce it", which happens, then you can ask for it to be removed from the contract.

Anyway, you cannot be forced to accept a non-compete agreement. You can ask for it to be removed from the contract, and if that doesn't happen, you walk away.

  • 2
    I'd also add to the list of types "An illegal non-compete clause" which can't be enforced but is just there to scare you.
    – Peter M
    Commented Jun 25, 2018 at 22:35

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