Here's everything I did at my last job
October 19, 2013 12:32 PM   Subscribe

If you work a job where you're expected to provide "samples" in your job search, how do you deal with the confidentiality aspect? I feel like if I was an employer, I would find it similar to the taboo against saying anything in negative in an interview. "Well if you're willing to say this about them, what are you going to say about me?" = "If you're willing to show me everything they're up to, how can I trust you to keep my information private?" But presumably people get jobs in this field every day, so there must be a lot of this going on? So there must be some expectation this is acceptable? Nobody I asked has been able to give me an answer to this other than a shrug.
posted by bleep to Work & Money (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
What field are you talking about?

My field involves confidential psychological reports on children. When applying for new jobs, we do a find-replace to remove names and school information.
posted by Nickel at 12:36 PM on October 19, 2013

I've been asked as part of job applications to send samples of legal documents I've drafted, and those involve confidential information about clients that is covered by attorney-client privilege. So, you change everyone's names and case numbers and enough of the details so that it's not recognizable as any particular person. Also, I always got permission from my former employers to send out the redacted versions, but if you don't want them to know that you're looking for work, I don't think that's strictly required.
posted by decathecting at 12:57 PM on October 19, 2013

When I used to design online ads, graphics and microsites, I'd just Lorem Ipsum out the text and leave the other elements intact.
posted by kimberussell at 12:59 PM on October 19, 2013

Response by poster: What if the design of the document is such that even if you did find/replace, replaced logos, did lorem-ipsum, etc., it would still be impossible to obscure what company owned the work?
posted by bleep at 1:04 PM on October 19, 2013

Do you have a confidentiality or other agreement with the company that says you're not allowed to take credit for the work you did for them? I mean, most people are allowed to put on their resumes, "created the logo for WidgetCorp," or whatever. If you're allowed to do that, would actually attaching a picture of the work violate their confidentiality in some additional way? I guess the question is, are you worried about disclosing some secret information about the client, or more about disclosing that you ever worked for the client in the first place?
posted by decathecting at 1:11 PM on October 19, 2013

I see from previous Asks that you were working in web design. Is this still the case? If so, a list of URLs as well as a description of the work you did, specifically, on those web sites should suffice.
posted by seawallrunner at 1:14 PM on October 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Do you have a confidentiality or other agreement with the company that says you're not allowed to take credit for the work you did for them?

are you worried about disclosing some secret information about the client

Most of the stuff actually done by me isn't publicly visible on the web.

I didn't specify what field because I'm interested in hearing how it's handled in all fields.
posted by bleep at 1:29 PM on October 19, 2013

I don't actually have an answer, but I'd like to chime in that this is really not an unthinkable position for someone to be in. I myself work in a field where many people are able to easily demonstrate the source code or outcome of their work, but due to the nature of my own employer & clients, I absolutely cannot reveal almost anything really meaningful and a "portfolio" is out of the question.

One solution some people have found, which I'm looking into myself, is doing personal side projects, freelancing, and similar kinds of work for which I could show off the work, purely for the sake of having non-confidential work products. Obviously that may be easier for some skillsets and fields than others, but it's one solution to the problem.
posted by Tomorrowful at 1:56 PM on October 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

I develop training courses, both instructor-led and for asynchronous eLearning. Many of the courses I've developed involve proprietary information on new technologies, sales methods & strategies, or just general info that needs to be kept within the company. Especially for eLearning, I've developed other standalone courses & modules to use for interviews or other portfolio things that use the same interactions and learning strategies, so they still show off my skills, but are completely unrelated to what the original course content may have been.
posted by ThatSomething at 2:17 PM on October 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Many designers show work in interviews that they don't put on their public portfolios. It is not unusual.
posted by dame at 3:42 PM on October 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

As an attorney, the common practice is to either share documents that have been filed in court (and are therefore publicly available, with my name on it) or documents that are readily anonymized such that attorney-client privilege won't be violated.
posted by mchorn at 6:23 PM on October 19, 2013

Most software development jobs have similar confidentiality issues that can make it impossible to show "work samples" to potential employers. Instead, many programmers now have "portfolios" of open source projects they've contributed to, either or on the job or in their free time.
posted by mbrubeck at 8:56 PM on October 19, 2013

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