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I am a software developer. I am a little worried about my future as my company doesn't allow its employees to reveal anything about their projects, even after they have left the company. Currently I have about 1 year of experience. When we apply for a job, the first thing the interviewer asks about is our industry projects. They have detailed discussions about our projects before going forward with the technical interview. But what can I write in my resume if I can't even reveal the name of my project?

Of course, I can write that I worked in x technology using the a, b, c tools but it wouldn't look good unless I have something to tell them about it.

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    BTW (I know this will not help you right now) That is a warning before signing a contract with the next company: ask them before taking on the job how they will support you solving this dilemma when it's time to move on (They might fire you). Also "doesn't allow its employees to reveal anything about their projects" is quite a demand and may be legally disputable. But legal discussions is not what this website is for. – Jan Doggen May 13 '13 at 7:38
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    You might want to look at this closely related question/answer at workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/8789/… – Steve May 13 '13 at 15:03
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    You can be very broad. Worked on a circuit board call it Project X. Describe your duties. If you used those tools be sure to mention that. If they asked for details just explain you are under a NDA. If people for the CIA can get jobs outside of the CIA you can describe your duties. – Donald May 15 '13 at 17:09
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    Unless the projects you work on are widely known by their name, what difference does it make? You can't reveal secrets so you call it project "X", but the real name is project "Y", so what? – user8365 Nov 29 '13 at 13:48
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The name of the project does not matter. The nitty gritty details of how the project fit in to the company's business model do not matter. The technical aspects of what you did are what the company is looking for.

For instance, let's say I was working on Google's search algorithm and not allowed to disclose it.

I am currently working on an algorithm named PageRank which creates search results based on a link weighting system. Each page on the internet is given a ranking based on how many other pages link to it. So if a page has many other pages linking to it, it is seen as more reliable. And if a more reliable page links to another page, that page is seen more reliable by association. This way we are able to create a better web search that allows ranking to be based on something akin to reputation rather than keywords.

The above description is a great explanation of what the company is developing, but doesn't say anything about what I'm actually doing.

I am currently working on a complex algorithm in PASCAL that analyzes over a trillion data points that maps the relationships between those points to assign a value to each.

This description focuses on what I'm doing without giving away any trade secrets whatsoever.

Having a non-disclosure clause in your contract is something you should respect, but it doesn't mean that you can't discuss in general terms what you are working on or what problems you are tackling.

Use common sense and just ask yourself, "If I shared this information, would it harm the company I'm working for?" The second description shouldn't, and should be enough for your prospective employer. If during the interview they ask for more specific details which you are uncomfortable sharing, just explain something like:

I can tell you that the data points I am working with are a network of linked items (think friends on Facebook), but due to my non-disclosure agreement I can't tell you the specifics of what we are actually analyzing.

At the end of the day, if you can't explain what you are doing without explaining what the overall project is, you probably aren't going to have a very good interview.

  • Also, if come company simply wants to know your projects' name and nothing else, then it probably is not too good. Because any idiot claiming to have worked at a great project will be hired by them. – KK. May 13 '13 at 12:21
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    I've interviewed candidates coming from military employers, including the actual Israeli army. They had no problem discussing their projects with me, with specific exceptions about classified parts. – Jonathan May 13 '13 at 19:12
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    good ol' Pascal :D – Hard Worker Mar 19 '15 at 15:00
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You can include high-level description of the projects, such as 'eCommerce software', 'software for X type of company" (banking, insurance, etc.), and at the interview discuss technical challenges in developing such software, without mentioning any names or concrete project details. Be sure not to break the confidentiality, including on any technology implementations if they are under NDA (keep in mind, that most of the technology is not a break-trough innovation, so apply common sense to what should go under the terms of NDA). The eventual employer not only will understand that you can't reveal any details, but this would form a good impression, because you are not breaking your promises even when you are leaving your employer.

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I work on a project that I describe as 'real estate' related when the 'real estate' component is somewhat trivial. In short, don't try to describe what you're doing, but find analogies or similar kinds of work in other industries and describe how yours are 'somewhat like' those. Within that framework, you can describe issues you confronted and what you did about them. At one point I worked on a project 'Converting an IMS mainframe application to VB.NET and SQL Server'. That didn't really tell anyone who the client was or what the project was, but it would speak volumes about what someone could expect me to do.

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Most companies request an updated resume from their employees. Some do it as part of their annual review process, others have their own schedule.

The purpose of the resume is so that it can be used to bid on projects, and to be used as part of a database when looking for internal ways to fill positions.

Generally when there is a significant amount of work that is done for projects or customers that must remain confidential, they also provide a way to help the employee write that section of the resume. They will also vet all the annual updates to those resumes to make sure they still don't break the rules.

The goal for the company is to help the employee create a resume that is true, yet shows the extent of skills and experience. They need to do this to win future work.

  • All seven of the companies I have worked for have required it as part of the annual process, plus a few midyear updates for specific contracts. – mhoran_psprep Nov 29 '13 at 13:42

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