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Last week, the Federal Trade Commission announced that they are banning non-competes across the country. And, this new ruling applies to almost all workers. You read that right. The FTC does not want your employer to be able to force a non-compete onto you.

Employers have long believed that a non-compete allows them to protect their trade secrets. They believed, non-competes allowed them to protect their financial investment into workers. And, employees often had no choice. If you wanted to take a job, a non-compete was just part of the arrangement.

In reality, non-compete agreements often tie the hands of employees. When an employee has spent the bulk of their career in one industry, it prevents them from going to other companies in the same industry. Often, a non-compete will remain in effect for multiple years, and can sometimes prevent employees from working in entire industries. It’s also worth mentioning that many companies invest less of their resources into workers today than they have in the past.

Non-compete agreements discourage employees from switching jobs. And, they prevent those same employees from pursuing more money, or a better workplace. Non-competes take away the options an employee has when switching jobs. It can lock someone into a company where they are underpaid, and may have an unhealthy work situation.

Even before the FTC decision, I would often hear people say that it’s hard to enforce non-competes. Some people felt they didn’t really matter. But, I would argue that this is not true. Even if an agreement is not very enforceable, the employee must go through a lengthy and expensive legal process to prove it. And, many employers don’t want to risk being involved in such a process with a new employee. Companies would rather play it safe than hire someone with an active non-compete.

The FTC estimates that one in five workers today are bound by a non-compete agreement. That means that this change will impact 30 million people. The FTC estimates this ban will grow startup activity by 2.7 percent. And, they believe an average worker stands to make $524 more per year because of this change. The FTC believes that allowing people to switch companies and remain in the same industry will create more competition. By allowing workers to switch jobs more freely, companies will be forced to pay a higher wage.

Going forward, companies will have to move beyond the non-compete. They may want to look at fair pay and treatment. And, they must focus on protecting their actual intellectual property in more specific ways. Protecting intellectual property is fair. Blindly restricting someone’s right to work is not.

Unfortunately though, the fight is likely not over. It is expected that the FTC will get a significant amount of pushback from companies who wish to keep their non-compete agreements in place. But for now, this change is a big win for workers.

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland


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