Resumes & NDAs
December 8, 2009 6:41 AM   Subscribe

Resume Hell: How to cite a consultant position when you can't name the client? (Less inside: identifying details smudged.)

I have a freelance gig working for ZYX Company on a project for Joe Smith's Super-Impressive Industry Leader, Inc. (hereinafter, "the Client"). I had to sign an NDA, but it kills me that I can't put the Client's name on my resume, because it would be a much-needed boost. MUCH needed. So how do I properly word this? My point being that there's no point in citing ZYX Company because they're just the contractor, and their name is not impressive. Right now the heading on this part of the resume says "Data Consultant, ZYX Company, 2009-present"; below that, the description goes "Evaluate and critique horse feathers information for leading hovercraft industry company."

Is "leading" enough? Or "major"? How about "industry dominant"? (I really like that one.) First time I've ever had to deal with this situation. Please help the needy this holiday season. Thank you.
posted by scratch to Work & Money (19 answers total)
 
Leading sounds fine to me. If the interviewer asks, all you have to say is you can't name the client due to an NDA but they're in the top X in the field (or whatever).
posted by reptile at 6:44 AM on December 8, 2009


And, personally, I'd mention the NDA in the resume--on the margins, it's more interesting. E.g., "Evaluate mission-critical horse feathers information for confidential project at industry dominant hovercraft company (subject to non-disclosure agreement; no further details available)."

Sounds terribly juicy--I've been watching the domestic and international hovercraft industry for a while now, and I think the steam-powered underwater hovercraft the Belgians announced at Hovercraft Expo 2009 really will revitalize this segment. Good luck with the job hunt!
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:56 AM on December 8, 2009 [7 favorites]


Describe the breadth and dollar amount of the project.

"Horsefeathers consultancy services for $20 kajillion, 300-man project for leading hovercraft industry company."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:58 AM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I hope you have a copy of the NDA. Read over it to be sure you really can't use their name. NDAs vary pretty widely in what's not allowed to be talked about.
posted by cschneid at 7:04 AM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'd go with cschneid here. Most NDAs won't let you discuss the details of the project, but except for the CIA, most of them do let you discuss the existence of said project.

Barring that, the suggestions on here seem fine. I'd definitely include Cool Papa Bell's suggestion about the scope of the project.
posted by valkyryn at 7:16 AM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


If the NDA does indeed prohibit you from using the company name, "leading" or "industry dominant" both sound way better than "major." Could you get even more quantifiable like "Fortune 500" or "NASDAQ-traded"?
posted by dayintoday at 7:26 AM on December 8, 2009


Refer to it as "Fortune 500 Hovercraft company"?
posted by sciencegeek at 7:27 AM on December 8, 2009


(subject to non-disclosure agreement; no further details available).

I would avoid a phrase like "no further details available." The person who's quickly scanning your resume might get a negative and incorrect impression from this: "What, is not willing to say anything more about the project if it comes up in an interview?" Unless you can word it more clearly and concisely, I'd focus on the positive (Cool Papa Bell's suggestion - "$20 kajillion, 300-man project for leading hovercraft industry company") rather than the negative ("gee, I'm sorry I can't tell you very much about it").
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:37 AM on December 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


* is he not willing to say anything more ...
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:38 AM on December 8, 2009


Ditto cschneid and valkyryn - read over your NDA and make sure you can't use the company's name. However, I can tell you that I am currently under such an NDA with a client (not the CIA or any other three-letter government agency), where I cannot disclose even the name of the company or the nature of the project on which I am working with them. My NDA does have a sunset clause that expires 6 months after the end of the project, so look for one of those, as well.
posted by deadmessenger at 7:41 AM on December 8, 2009


On top of quantifying the size of the project, you could quantify the size of the company that you did the project for. Revenue amount, market capitalization (if public), etc.
posted by arm426 at 7:54 AM on December 8, 2009


Thanks, folks. All helpful. I'm inferring that (a) you all think I should leave ZYX Company's name on there, because after all I'm working for them and not directly for the Client, and (b) that quantifying the Client's position w/objective stuff (yes, Nasdaq and F500) is crucial.

(Special to Adm. Haddock: The Belgians, maybe, but don't discount Zaire just yet.)
posted by scratch at 7:59 AM on December 8, 2009


Workaround: leave the name off of your resume, and network. You may not be allowed to disclose your employer's client list, but if somebody else lets it slip, it's not your fault, right? Most likely it's already common knowledge among recruiters and hiring managers in your industry (you telling me not one of your colleagues has ever let it slip?). Include just enough in the resume/cover for people who already know to connect the dots.

"Hi, Spats, I'm calling from Acme Recuiting Group, your old colleague Joe at [client] forwarded your resume and tells me you're looking to make a move..."
"I can neither confirm nor deny that I worked with Joe at [client]. What have you got for me?"


The client-disclosure part of the NDA isn't there just to inconvenience you (that's what non-competes are for!), the point is to keep competitors from poaching. Or at least making them do their own legwork first...

(IANAL, and reread your NDA!)
posted by a young man in spats at 8:29 AM on December 8, 2009


Another option is "Worldwide Leading Hovercraft Firm".
posted by smackfu at 8:52 AM on December 8, 2009


Re: "leading.
I'm somewhat iffy about using the word "leading". I come from an advertising/marketing background and it seems every fly-by-night startup calls itself "leading" or "industry leading". To my ears, it's become a meaningless, fluffy qualifier.

I think I'd much prefer something more objective and substantial, like Fortune 5, Fortune 20, Fortune 500, Dow Jones Index Member, etc.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:06 AM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm inferring that (a) you all think I should leave ZYX Company's name on there, because after all I'm working for them and not directly for the Client, and (b) that quantifying the Client's position w/objective stuff (yes, Nasdaq and F500) is crucial.

I handle a few thousand resumes a year. And yes, this is what I expect to see on a resume regarding a consultancy gig. It's very, very common, and you do not need to mention the NDA or make excuses for it.

When you say "for an F-500 firm", it's pretty obvious that you're being discreet, and people understand (and even appreciate) that. For the same reason, don't complain about not being allowed to talk about in your interviews. Your discretion and respect for your contract is a positive attribute.
posted by rokusan at 12:02 PM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


(And don't get too clever, like "a Fortune 500 manufacturer of personal computers, music players and cell phones based in Cupertino." Not cool.)
posted by rokusan at 12:03 PM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Rokusan:(And don't get too clever, like "a Fortune 500 manufacturer of personal computers, music players and cell phones based in Cupertino." Not cool.)

I used to work for a company that referred to their biggest client as a "Fortune 5 retailer headquartered in Arkansas." About as subtle as a cannon blast, that.
posted by deadmessenger at 12:38 PM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I used to work for a company that referred to their biggest client as "A major Finnish telecommunications company"...
posted by HiroProtagonist at 5:44 PM on December 8, 2009


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