Re: job shop--non-compete clause??

Subject: Re: job shop--non-compete clause??
From: Tim Altom <taltom -at- IQUEST -dot- NET>
Date: Sat, 28 Dec 1996 11:18:00 EST

At 10:35 AM 12/28/96 -0500, you wrote:
>Hi, all--I have a question about non-compete clauses.

>I am a semi-novice at tech writing--I've been working part-time for a
>documentation house for the past two years, but that relationship has
>ended. Now I'm shopping around for contract work.

>I've interviewed with a woman who has been a contractor for over a decade
>and has now started a placement/management service, i.e. she will place
>writers with clients such as Banker's Trust, etc., in Manhattan. She does
>a certain amount of liason stuff too, in exchange for her cut--I'd
>actually be paid by her, rather than directly by the client. She'd pay me
>as a 1099.

>She wants me to sign what she says is a standard "non-compete" clause
>before she even thinks of introducing me to a client. Effectively it would
>bar me from working for a company she "introduced" me to "directly or
>indirectly" for up to a year after I leave her employ. It seems very broad
>to me, and I think an experienced contract writer would probably refuse to
>sign it--but I'm not that experienced, and she would a) presumably help me
>get jobs and b) offer somewhat more in the way of support than a big
>recruitment firm like KTI. Her whole pitch is that she's not a big
>anonymous recruitment firm, she's more selective in whom she hires and
>where she places--really tries to make a good match, etc.

>Does anyone have any thoughts about this, pro or con?


>Randy Burgess ghost -at- netaxis -dot- com
>freelance writer,
>tech writer, ghostwriter

In our area, non-competes are common and accepted. A year's duration is hard
to defend in court, but a six-month span would be upheld.

I believe so firmly in the justice of non-competes that I've honored short
tacit ones even when the subject wasn't broached. Non-competes protect the
placement company's investment in contacting, schmoozing and selling to the
prospect. This takes time and money to do, and from the standpoint of the
placing firm, you're just a commodity. The real interest of a placement firm
is getting a relationship with the client, not getting a relationship with
the commodity. Now she introduces you to the person she may have worked for
months to see and cultivate, only to have you call this person the next day
and undercut her prices by a buck an hour?

Randy, if she didn't strap you to a non-compete, she'd be an idiot. And you
don't want to work for an idiot. Look at this in a long-term view. So you
can't go back to XYZ Corp for a year after leaving her. So what? If you and
the client turn out to be pals, let the client know you're bound by a
non-compete and that you'll be happy to work for him 12 months hence. Then
keep up your relationship. A non-compete can't keep you from having lunch.
It also can't keep you from striking out on your own and lining up XYZ as a
reference. With a little luck, you can go to XYZ after a year and slide
right into a good contract, partly on the basis of your integrity. In the
meantime you're getting great experience. Long view always, Randy. Don't
ruin your relationship with the placement company, either. Keep to the
letter of your agreement and as close to the spirit as you can. Don't burn
up a relationship unnecessarily.

Tim Altom
Vice President, Simply Written, Inc.
317.899.5882 (voice) 317.899.5987 (fax)
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