Are you hot when it comes to negotiating the terms of your employment? Negotiating an
employment agreement, or simply salary for that matter, presents a unique challenge. You do not want overly aggressive negotiations to sour your relationship with your new employer. That said, for many upper level positions, employers want to see how well you negotiate for yourself as it reflects your ability to negotiate on behalf of the company later on. Here are a few general guidelines to consider as you look into your new opportunity:

It is not uncommon for parties to write something in a contract, with the understanding, that the reality differs. For example, the contract states that you must remain at the office during office hours which are Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. However, the Vice President hiring you agrees that you can work 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and take off Fridays. This scenario may work fine for a year, but what happens when that Vice President leaves? Will the new boss agree to this side agreement that differs from the written contract? If you go through the process of drafting a formal agreement, make sure you get what you want in writing.

Many court battles are fought not because the contract specifically said “A” and the person did “B,” but rather because the contract does not clearly state “A” or “B.” These ambiguities likely result from the back and forth negotiations producing multiple versions of an agreement. Some terms may be inadvertently excluded or typos and poor grammar cloud the intended meaning. After looking at the same agreement five times over, you do not catch the error. To reframe your perspective start your review at the end. I am not suggesting that you literally read words from right to left. Instead, start with the last section and work your way to the beginning. You would be surprised how simply reading something out of order will reveal an error otherwise overlooked.

Although the goal of this article is to give you some overall guidelines, the increased use of non-compete agreements merits specific attention. What is a non-compete? Typically by signing a non-compete you agree that for a certain period of time, and probably within a certain geographic region, you will not engage in the same business as your current employer. For many years it seemed that Texas Courts did not enforce these agreements. This has changed. Texas Courts enforce non-compete agreements.

This plays a role in your new employment contract for two reasons. First, you may have a non-compete agreement with your soon-to-be former employer that prevents you from taking this new job. No doubt something you want to investigate before giving notice. Second, you will want to consider the long term consequences of signing a non-compete with your new employer. Although it may not be possible to avoid a non-compete all together, you may be able to shorten the parameters – either in time or geography. Or perhaps you can request that if the employer terminates you for reasons other than misconduct – the non-compete is not enforceable.

For more in depth articles on non-compete agreements, you can visit the Texas Workforce Commission web page and type in “non-compete” in the search engine.

DISCLAIMER: This article is provided for educational purposes only. This article is intended to give you general information regarding the law and not to provide specific legal advice. There is no attorney client relationship between you and the authors of this article. This article should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your jurisdiction. With respect to any parts of this article that may be considered attorney advertising, please know that prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.