My only non-compete was as a high tech recruiter / staffing consultant. The length of time should be rational given the sales cycle. The industry standard seems to be a one year non-compete agreement with a 50 mile or more radius from the company’s market area. A year is certainly excessive since within 3 months almost all job orders open at the time will be filled, and the majority of active candidates (certainly the more marketable ones) will have new jobs. Six months is certainly more than enough protection for a company, if it is necessary at all given that the contacts and other relationships they protect are acquirable by other means such as cold-calling and advertising.
I’ve been told – this is anecdotal, I do not have actual evidence – that courts ultimately overturn the agreements because they clearly prevent the person from working in their career field, and there is no intellectual property – just relationships that can be otherwise established. But that typically takes up to six months to establish and is expensive for the employee in terms of legal fees.