Career Calling

May 11, 2014

Read Before You Sign

Two of my clients are facing problems with their current employers.  In both cases, the clients — let’s call them Mary and Bob — neglected to read employment documents before accepting a job.  Mary works in education as a administrator.  She was recently laid off with no warning.  To make matters worse, she was informed that the employer would not be paying her final check or vacation pay because she had signed a form calling her initial pay during a probation period a “loan” which the company would collect if the employee was terminated.  I’ve never heard of such a thing in the 13 years I’ve been working as a career coach.  However, I believe Mary told because she the story in a convincing manner and says she has a  lawyer helping her.  The problem is that even if she gets the pay she deserves, a good part of it will go to her attorney.  Had she read her employment agreement before signing it, Mary could have asked to have this clause removed or she could have chosen to work for another company.

Bob has an even trickier problem.  He works in a very specific area in IT.  When he graduated from college in 2009, it was difficult for a new graduate to find a job.  Bob joined a company that required him to sign a non-compete agreement.  This means that he cannot apply to the companies that would be most likely to hire him.  Bob was so excited to get an offer that he didn’t notice the non-compete agreement, which lists 10 specific companies that he cannot work for in any capacity.  The good news is that Bob thinks he can get a job in consulting that would led him fill a function not covered in his employee agreement.

These examples demonstrate the importance of reading anything given to you by a potential employer.  If you don’t understand something, ask if you can have it reviewed by a lawyer.  Any employer who will not let you do this is probably trying to manipulate you.  A good employer will have nothing to hide and will welcome a review.  Before accepting any job, remember this simple principle:  Read before you sign.

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