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I've been working with Bob (name changed) as a subcontractor. He's always had some interesting projects with well-known companies and well-known people. However, since I had been working as a subcontractor, many of those companies and people might not know that he had been aided by other people.

To get to the heart of the issue, if I don't include these projects, my work experience would be very light, since he is one of the first people I've worked for on serious projects. I've worked for Bob almost full-time, almost every day, and during working hours. I still consider it as a freelance gig, since we don't have a written contract between us, and if I have other work to do, I just inform him of the work.

Is it professional to include subcontractor work, or should I ask for Bob's permission first?

  • Why don't you refer Bob as your client? If Bob has got good projects, he should be famous among peers, why don't you present it as you have done XYZ work for Bob. – QAMate.com Aug 24 '14 at 7:01
  • Why not check with Bob and tell him you are looking for other avenues (beyond bob) and if bob has any issues with that. – alpa Jul 3 '15 at 18:27
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I've worked with some clients that have very high privacy expectations (military, etc), and the rule of thumb that I always stick to is that if the paper or concept is available online and can be found easily by anyone using Google, then there is no issue mentioning it. NDAs generally cover information that is unique to the company that is not available elsewhere. For example, I could mention that I implemented a kalman filter for a company, but I wouldn't be able to talk about how I did it in specific.

So in your resume you can probably mention general broad details without mentioning specifics. By keeping it broad, you also minimise the chance of Bob being caught out.

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Unless you have a non-disclosure agreement, I do not think you need to worry about any legal repercussions from disclosing your work with Bob. If Bob is giving his clients the impression he is doing all of the work himself, then it is his problem to deal with. If he hasn't asked you to sign a NDA, then it is likely he is not doing that.

With that being said, as a matter of professional courtesy you could consider asking Bob if it is OK. Of course, if he says no then you risk burning a bridge by disclosing the work.

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It's perfectly fine to mention Bob as your current or former client. But on paper or while in discussion, be careful about mentioning the finer details of Bob's business. You can talk about off-the-shelf technologies that you used to solve a problem while you were working for him because methods of using development tools are no big secret and such information is openly available.

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