In my latest career advice blog for Life Reimagined for Work, I look at the impact of a non-compete clause on a career. What can you do if you can’t work in your field for one year or more?
As an experienced professional, you may face a non-compete that prevents you from taking a similar role with a competitor if you leave your job. You are probably at a level where you directly affect your employer’s competitiveness and profitability. This was the case for a biotech executive I recently met: she left her management post abroad to return to the U.S. and cannot work in the same industry in a similar role for a year. She wants to work or at least stay competitive until the restriction expires. Here are three ways to do just that.
Keep Current You don’t need a job to maintain your expertise, develop your hands-on skills and cultivate a relevant network. Get active in a professional association in your industry. Read the insiders’ blogs. Stay in contact with your industry connections on a personal level. Support a local academic institution that does research in your area. The challenge during your time away isn’t a lack of opportunity; it’s motivating yourself to maintain high standards for your knowledge and skills. This requires planning from the day you leave your job, so you’ll have time to earn credibility in groups you join, as well as adherence to a schedule.
Explore other industries Even if you intend to return to your field, there is value in looking into other options during your non-compete. You demonstrate versatility and flexibility. You hone your functional and management skills in a different context. You meet new people and gain a different perspective, which might give you breakthrough insights into your previous industry. If you’re facing a one-year restriction, there may not be time to launch a thorough job search and get traction in a new job, so aim to consult, rather than land a full-time role. This mitigates some of the risk for the company hiring you, and may allow you to sample more than one project or industry.