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Before you sign: How to examine a job contract

The offer of a new job is often exciting -- but you can't afford to let yourself get swept up in the moment. It's important to take a step back and examine the contract you're being offered with a critical eye.

What are the most important things that you should concern yourself with in any employment contract? Here are some suggestions:

1. Are you given a clear job description?

Not having a job description that's specific is a recipe for disaster. If you end up in a dispute with your employer over the performance of your duties, the description in your contract may be vital to your case.

2. Can you be terminated with a notice?

If your contract allows you to be terminated with a notice of 30 days or more, you'll really be an "at-will" employee. That offers you a lot less security than a fixed term. Before you take that kind of offer, make sure that the job is worth it.

3. Are you permitted to freelance?

Some employers don't care if you moonlight, while others insist that you run every freelance gig by them first. If you plan on making some money driving Uber, you could find your plans disrupted by your employer's whims on the matter.

4. Does your employer own your creations?

Depending on your job, your employer could hope to lay claim to anything you create -- even if it's on your own time. If you're in the process of developing something fantastic, negotiate for the right to keep that apart from everything else you create during your term of employment.

5. Are you subject to a noncompete clause?

These are more common than in the past -- but that doesn't mean you should accept it without careful consideration. You want to make sure that any clause restricting your move to another employer or out on your own isn't so restrictive that you're forced on the sidelines of your chosen profession if you leave.

While these are just some of the important issues that you may face, they're generally critical to your career and your future. If you aren't sure if the terms of a employment contract are acceptable, consider having it reviewed for legal advice.

Source: Monster.com, "10 Considerations Before Signing an Employment Contract," John Rossheim, accessed June 15, 2018

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