You just got offered a job and you’re excited to get started. It’s a new chance to show the company how great you are and try something new. Then, they send you the employment contract to sign and you realize you don’t know what you’re looking at.

While it would be easy to just sign it and trust that your company has your best interest in mind, that could lead to some very sticky situations in the future. Here are a few signs to look for in your contract that mean a professional should probably look at it:

Loophole keywords

Sometimes, legalese will be slipped into a contract that will give your employer a loophole that could be detrimental to you. Look for words like “notwithstanding” or “hereunder”. These could mean that your contract isn’t going to be as good as you thought it was.

Financial obligations

Clauses that make you responsible for payments can cost you thousands and are difficult to get out of. You may be getting stuck paying for the other party’s legal fees if there is a dispute.

Forum or venue selection

If there is a conflict, a forum selection clause could make it impossible for you to bring a lawsuit against your company within your physical area. This may force you to pay even more to litigate against someone in a chosen jurisdiction.

At-will clauses

As-will clauses in your contract mean that you can probably be fired without reason or compensation. You will have little footing to defend yourself if you sign a contract with one of these clauses.

Contact duration

It’s important that you understand the legal duration of your contract. Look for the time frame and your responsibilities in terminating, like how early you need to notify the company. If you have questions, seek clarification with your employer or a lawyer.


If your company is constantly revising and making changes to your employment contract, even before you have signed it, pump the breaks. They may be trying to hide something or change your agreement.

Companies typically have an attorney on retainer who creates their employment contracts, so it’s going to be easy for them to hide things. Without carefully understanding your contract, you can very easily be put in a bad position.