Dodging Career Landmines: A Savvy Executive’s Guide to Conflicts of Interest and Non-Compete Clauses

Jun 20, 2023 | Overcoming Perceived Liabilities

Dodging Career Landmines


As executives ascend the professional ladder, they usually face increasingly complex issues such as conflicts of interest or non-compete clauses, which can result in legal and ethical challenges. Encountering these obstacles can create significant hurdles in the job search process. But never fear, with a bit of understanding and knowledge of how the terminology can ultimately impact your success, you too can smooth out your career transition by making deliberate choices that enhance your prospects. Here are five critical areas to direct your attention. 

Conflicts of interest happen when personal or financial relationships influence your professional judgment and decision-making. Non-compete clauses restrict working with direct competitors or starting similar businesses for a specified period. Both scenarios carry ethical and legal implications that can damage your professional reputation and invite lawsuits if not handled appropriately. 

During part 7 of this 8-part series for navigating the challenging parts of your job search process, we will explore the implications of conflicts of interest and non-compete clauses. 


Part 7: A Savvy Executive’s Guide to Conflicts of Interest and Non-Compete Clauses


Understand Your Obligations

Review existing agreements from previous jobs and consider restrictive clauses limiting future jobs. Consider legal advice for terms or condition clarification.

Complete Honesty and Transparency

The open book approach is the most effective when managing conflicts of interest. Before starting a new job, it’s essential to discuss such issues with your employers or stakeholders. By being upfront about your situation, you demonstrate integrity and give everyone involved the opportunity to work collaboratively to find a solution. In cases where you’re bound by a non-compete clause, disclosure can help to clarify whether the proposed job violates your agreement. However, the timing of this transparency is critical to success. Don’t introduce a roadblock to getting the offer, but don’t go after roles that are a conflict of interest.

Don’t Let a Roadblock Lead to a Detour

If a non-compete agreement or conflict of interest is impeding your career growth, negotiation can be a practical solution. Such agreements are open to interpretation and often amendable. Should your non-compete clause seem overly restrictive, consider negotiating its terms – from its timescale and geographical limitations to its scope. Doing so may pave the way for increased career opportunities. Be ready before your exit interview to set the parameters for your treasure hunt for a new role.

Manage Conflicts Responsibly

If you find yourself in a situation where conflicts of interest are unavoidable, it’s crucial to manage them responsibly. Mitigation strategies include recusal from decision-making where the dispute arises, or establishing a clear divide between personal and professional relationships. For non-compete agreements, following the clause’s specifications without violation demonstrates your respect for prior commitments.



Successfully managing conflicts of interest and non-compete clauses may appear overwhelming, but by comprehending, revealing, negotiating, and responsibly controlling them, you can avoid hampering your professional advancement. Balancing the attainment of professional goals with ethical and compliance responsibilities highlights your executive integrity.

Seek legal advice whenever necessary, and consistently remember that your reputation is a valuable asset during your executive journey. Protect it with utmost care.


Next Week, Part 8: “Balancing Work and Personal Life During the Job Search”

Patrick Lage

Written By: Terri Wiksten, Chief Operating Officer

Terri Wiksten is a dynamic powerhouse who works harder than anyone you know and tackles every task with 100% effort while maintaining her enthusiastic, cheerleader attitude!

She loves helping professionals save time and money as they search for their next challenge and thrives on how technology turned this industry on its head, allowing for constant change and opportunity to do things better and more effectively for our clients.