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I am a private/personal chef located in the US. My previous employer had me sign a very specific NDA where I could not state location, details of diet, heath, salary...not even disclose WHOM I WAS WORKING FOR. In fact, they had me live in a unit downstairs so it seemed I was a tenant and I never had to be seen accessing the building in uniform daily as any other chef would.

So now I find myself with a multi year gap on my resume, something that is keeping me from finding a good position. How would I express this on my resume, to recruiters and in interviews with new clients? I feel like I have already lost opportunities.

  • @Monstar deleting it would limit it to those with 10,000 rep and above. The question could then be re-asked after scrubbing of info. – Matthew Gaiser Feb 2 at 22:26
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    Could you ask your client's lawyer for a letter saying you were working, and perhaps stating your salary? Your client's lawyer probably has several clients who could employ a personal chef. – Patricia Shanahan Feb 2 at 22:30
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    Related question: How to mention project names on CV where name can't be disclosed due to non-disclosure agreement, just for a different type of job. – sleske Feb 3 at 7:58
  • Keep in mind that you have not shown us the language of your NDA, and also that most people here are not lawyers anyway. While you have some good answers here below, they mostly all make assumptions about what the NDA allows you to say and what it does not. It remains your responsibility to be sure you understand the language of your NDA and that whatever you do put in your resume is compliant with those terms. – J... Feb 4 at 13:02
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They had me sign a very specific NDA where I could not state location, details of diet, heath, salary...not even disclose WHOM I WAS WORKING FOR.

That's not as outrageous as you seem to be making it, I can't imagine that anyone hiring a personal chef would want that person to go on and put on their resume: "I worked for XYZ FAMOUS PERSON and had to handle DIET FOR PEOPLE WITH BAD GAS at their prestigious home at CELEBRITY ADDRESS HERE". It is not material for your resume and a massive no-no in terms of privacy, even without signing an NDA.

What you can put down though is something akin:

Personal chef to a family of four. My duties consisted of preparing XYZ meals every day, catering for specific dietary and health issues of the clients.

And whatever else is important for a chef on their CV, but that cannot even hint at who you've worked for, just do not go into any specifics. And if still in doubt, run it by a lawyer, it should not be expensive to get a comprehensive opinion. On a side note, that's something you should've done before signing any document you are not 100% sure about, but as we don't have a time machine, getting that now is the second best thing.

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    It's okay to be slightly more specific to give an idea of the quality of the "family of four." For example something like: "Personal chef to an A-list celebrity and their family." You need to be able to make sure that even if you can't say, for example, "Brad Pitt" that they know the type of your employer without giving out personal information. Saying "personal chef to an A-list actress who lives in southern Arizona with her 2 kids and dog named Jo" is obviously too far. I'd say, if the list of possible candidates from all details is less than 30-50, it's too personal. – Aaron Harun Feb 3 at 13:11
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    @AaronHarun As long as it doesn't lead to possible identification it's alright. So how much detail this allows really depends on details that we cannot know, due to the NDA, and why I recommend for OP to run it by a lawyer first. – Tymoteusz Paul Feb 3 at 13:40
  • You probably can also check with the original employer's lawyer and see if your resume's entry fits their NDA. Barring really toxic people, NDAs of this type is not to screw you over, but to protect themselves. They're not trying to make you unemployable... – Nelson Feb 3 at 15:34
  • The problem is, combined with OP's residence history which is likely easy to obtain and might even be on a background check associated with seeking employment, this trivially identifies who the celebrity is. – R.. GitHub STOP HELPING ICE Feb 3 at 16:12
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    The bit about living in the same building is a detail that should not be mentioned, in a resume or interview. Without that (and with the rest of the answer's suggestions) I think OP is safe from accidentally revealing their client. – aherocalledFrog Feb 3 at 18:08
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Keep it simple:

Personal Chef: June 2016 - January 2020

Cannot disclose details due to NDA

Worked in a southern state for an athlete.

During your interview just make sure to stick to the generic explanation outlined above and focus on your overall skills as a chef.

The interviewer might not like it so they'll have to choose whether to believe you but it's better than having a gap.

If the interviewer keeps pressuring you for details then make sure not to give them ANY. It could very well be a test to see whether or not you reveal secrets under pressure.

You may also wish to run this by your previous employer. They would certainly be happy to let you know how much is too much. You may also be overthinking it and be shocked at the leniency of what they allow you to put in your resume.

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    Although, I suppose if a potential employer (or anyone with access to OP's resume) did a background check on OP, they could probably find their address during that time and figure out exactly who it was without a lot of effort. IIRC, address information is a matter of public record by default in my state. I'm not sure about FL, but, from a quick glance, it looks like it might be public by default there, too. – reirab Feb 4 at 4:06
  • @reirab Assuming that OP didn't advise the potential employer to perform the background check in order to learn this information then I think OP is still well within the NDA. – MonkeyZeus Feb 4 at 13:00
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You can still put the job in your resume, however instead of a detailed description, you would put a disclaimer like "Unable to disclose due to legal reasons". This will alert whoever is reading your resume that you simple cannot discuss the details, but you were still employed.

Its better than having a large gap in your resume and having a generic job title like "Personal Chef" will help the reader understand what sort of role you were in.

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    @JoeStrazzere Private/Personal chef for NBA player in Miami, who was in Miami during at least period X-Z seems like very specific info and likely a violation of the NDA. Even the fact that OP has already exposed that a Miami NBA player has an undisclosed health issue is almost certainly a violation... – Mars Feb 3 at 2:41
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    @JoeStrazzere OP's location is on the resume, and even if it wasn't, it would then be assumed that it's an LA player instead. That could raise different kinds of issues – Mars Feb 3 at 3:23
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    Instead of "NBA Player" you could simply write "celebrity athlete". There is more than one sport being played on a professional level in Miami, so that should preserve the privacy of the employer while still demonstrating the special challenge of the position. – Philipp Feb 3 at 14:15
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    Vague "legal reasons" is a very bad idea and suggests the matter of your past employment is a subject of litigation. – R.. GitHub STOP HELPING ICE Feb 3 at 16:14
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    @R..GitHubSTOPHELPINGICE I would put, "Unable to disclose due to contractual obligations" – Nathan Goings Feb 3 at 20:51
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Other answers are good. I would suggest reaching out to your client and asking for assistance in finding a gig. The logic is that they have somewhat limited your employment options, getting in return excellent service and discretion.

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    I agree. Or if they could make an exception and be a reference. If it is famous or rich person, having a private chef is in itself nothing to hide. – d-b Feb 3 at 12:15
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    @d-b As I understand the secrecy is because of the undisclosed medical condition, and the way it's set up (where they haven't even seen OP arrive in the kitchen from the street) there is very little way for them to make a hard-link if OP were to leak this information, in some way, shape or form. But if the celebrity were to recommend OP, and then OP blabs... Well, secret is gone. – Tymoteusz Paul Feb 3 at 14:01
  • I'd ask for an explicit letter of reference (which would likely come from a law firm) giving a start/end date and (possibly) salary for the unnamed client. What's written on a CV doesn't mean much if there's no reference available to support it. – Gary Myers Feb 3 at 22:05
  • @GaryMyers I haven't been asked for a reference since I was a teenager, and even then I don't believe they ever actually contacted any of them... – Mars Feb 4 at 2:16
  • Can you explain why you think OP is "somewhat limited in [their] employment options"? – Mars Feb 4 at 2:18

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