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This question already has an answer here:

Scenario: I'm 20 (pursuing a degree in Computer Engineering) and a self-employed IT consultant with VAT number and everything needed here (Italy).

For the past 2 years, I've been working for BigCompany (very big company), but in reality my invoices are being sent to SmallCompany (very small company), which is the actual provider of consultants for BigCompany. The fact is, I have basically no contact with SmallCompany and have been there just a couple times. As far as I'm concerned, it's like they don't exist. They're just the mean by which I got to work with BigCompany after a successful internship: I talked with BigCompany, they reached an agreement with SmallCompany, I work for BigCompany and send my invoices to SmallCompany.

Now, the question is, am I wrong in writing on my resume that I'm a consultant for BigCompany? To me, it's great because having that big name there makes a really nice impression, but I also know that technically there's a third party in between. But then again, I even have a BigCompany email address and have never been told anything about what's written on my LinkedIn (and I have more than a couple contacts from BigCompany).

marked as duplicate by Bilkokuya, gnat, HorusKol, Draken, mag Oct 10 at 7:41

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  • Did you interview with BigCompany or SmallCompany? Who approved you being hired? – Renato Dinhani Oct 8 at 1:32
  • I should probably have specified it, but yes, I am in no way an employee of any of the two. BigCompany gives me stuff to do, I do it, they pay SmallCompany, SmallCompany pays me. – Davide Oct 8 at 4:16
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You don't need to say that you worked for the large company. Keep in mind, telling the full truth will only take up a few extra words on your resume. Seriously, there's nothing wrong with:

2017-2019 - Data Analytics with Disney, through Smalltown Consulting Co.

... or something similar. This isn't a choice between A) Say you worked at Smalltown Consulting Co. or B) Say you worked at Disney. Just tell the truth - you worked at Disney due to consulting through Smalltown Consulting Co.

And an additional reason you really want the Smalltown Consulting on there in relative prominence: when the company does your work history check, how confident are you that Disney would have a record of you, since you weren't an actual employee but a contractor of Smalltown Consulting Co?

  • The fact is the OP isn't technically an employee of Smalltown consulting. He's self-employed so is a contractor of Smalltown that acts as a middleman for bigcorp. – Michele L'Intenditore Oct 8 at 10:10
  • @MicheleL'Intenditore - Possibly. I think that might be a bit of hair-splitting, though - the pay/invoices go through Smalltown, and likely the employment history checks will need to go through Smalltown. For the purpose of a resume? "Working with Disney, through Smalltown Consulting Co." is perfectly accurate and concise. – Kevin Oct 8 at 13:15
  • Being in a similar dilemma I like this approach since it puts mentioning both companies on the same level. – Leon Oct 9 at 8:50
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You can say you're working on projects for Big Company, but not for them as a consultant. This is a direct untruth.

Always be scrupulously honest whenever there is a grey area. Small company is paying you, you work for them.

Any background check would find this out pretty quickly and put your CV at the bottom of the pile if not discard it altogether.

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    This looks like the most reasonable thing to do. Taking into consideration what Rupert Morrish's answer said, I might just edit my resume to say "Working for Small at Big". That would be the complete truth. – Davide Oct 8 at 4:14
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    The background check point is important. What you put on your CV must be consistent with what the HR departments involved would say if asked about you. – Patricia Shanahan Oct 8 at 6:51
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    On my linkedin it used to say: Position at BigCompany (via SmallCompany) This is what most people at small company did. On my CV it said Posistion at SmallCompany and then describing my work at the bigcompany as a project – user180146 Oct 8 at 7:45
  • @user180146 depending on the country you can get in trouble for stating that. Again depending on the country the correct statement should be "Position at SmallCompany in service for BigCompany" – Juliana Karasawa Souza Oct 9 at 8:33
  • @JulianaKarasawaSouza I am not a lawyer. Although I do not see any lies in my statement, you could be right. – user180146 Oct 9 at 10:01
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Been there, done that. Most consultants in Italy say that they work for the final customer (in your case, BigCompany) and, at the same time, for their real employer. I was employed by SmallCompany which leased me to BigCompany which leased me to BiggerCompany and, at some point, I was approached by my line manager in BiggerCompany and told that I should update my LinkedIn profile, because "it doesn't show you as part of our team".

In fact, all the recruiters and HR people I know, when reading a resume, can understand that overlapping work periods in different company are consulting, because it's common practice.

  • This was particularly useful, coming from someone in the same country :) – Davide Oct 9 at 11:55
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Not sure whether it works in Italian, but in English I've described my previous contract employment as "working at BigCorp", which is not the same as working for them.

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    If all SmallCompany did was place me at BigCorp, then, no. Even if in some cases SmallCompany was much larger than BigCorp. – Rupert Morrish Oct 8 at 0:15
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    The same is very common within New Zealand. If you're a contractor (as the OP clearly is), the focus tends to be on "where you were working" rather than "who were you working for". Also work for implies an employer/employee relationship. Listing the companies you were assigned to work at rather than the recruitment agencies you contracted through. In other words, not just mentioning I worked for this recruitment company, and then that one, and then another and another. That gives potential employers / agencies a better idea of your experience within particular environments or industries. – ChrisFNZ Oct 8 at 1:09
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    That is a good point, I guess potential employers would care more about what I've been doing rather than who sent me there. But as other answers have said, entirely omitting the intermediary could cause some problems. Writing "working for X at Y" may be the best solution after all. By the way, this also works in Italian. – Davide Oct 8 at 4:58
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    I'd phrase it the other way around with the important first: Worked for Bigcorp, placed through Smallcorp – Borgh Oct 8 at 6:49
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@Rupert Morrish beat me to the answer (upvote)

If you want to keep you conscience clear(ish), you could always say "I work at BigCompany, Inc" and let others draw their own conclusions.


I will enlarge a little.

I have been a software contractor for much longer than you have been alive, and use "I work for" since BigCompany gains from my work (more than the middle-man); they use the software that I develop, while the agent only takes a cut.

But, the important part here is where you ask

Now, the question is, am I wrong in writing on my resume that I'm a consultant for BigCompany

You could do that.

2017 - 2109 BigCompany, Inc, Position: consultant

Personally, I put

2017 - 2109 BigCompany, Inc, Position: senior software engineer

But I would never, ever, ever name an agency on my CV.

The reason is that hiring managers in the industry can gauge your suitability from companies where you have worked. So, having experience at British Aerospace is of interest to a hiring manager at Boeing, etc.

That only leaves you to worry about your position. I doubt that anyone cares about positions when you apply for consultancy positions, only experience, so put whatever seems reasonable.

You don't have to mention consultancy, as, when you have more experience, anyone reading your CV will think "this guy has a string of 6 to 18 month jobs and is applying for a contract position ... must be a contractor".

tl;dr company name on the CV, never agency & whichever position seems reasonable

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Can I say i'm working for the first?

You definitely can. You can even say that you are best buddy with the Mars Rover and together you hit pubs and strip clubs on Jupiter every evening.

But if you want to the completely true - and the information in the CV MUST always be completely true, even if presented in a favorable light - then you should go like this:

Work experience

  • 2017 - present: self employed, working for BigCompany, billed through SmallCompany

am I wrong in writing on my resume that I'm a consultant for BigCompany?

It depends on who reads it. But it might not be completely true in the eyes of everybody. If you do not have a direct relationship with BigCompany, some people might have problems accepting your statement as true.


I even have a BigCompany email address

It is not really relevant for anybody, except maybe for yourself, as a token of self-achievement.


have never been told anything about what's written on my LinkedIn

LinkedIn was not relevant even when it was "good".


To me, it's great because having that big name there makes a really nice impression

I agree, having big names in the CV makes a nice impression. That is what I did myself. However, I wrote that I worked at company ABC in projects for customers X, Y, Z... instead of simplifying and saying that I worked for X, Y, Z. (X, Y, Z are world-wide famous companies).

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This depends entirely on your specific situation. Some contracting arrangements are fine with this, others very much are not.

I recommend one or both of the following:

  1. Check your contract
  2. Ask your manager at SmallCompany: while they may not be involved much in your day-to-day work, they still need to answer for any mistakes you make (including misrepresentation)

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