I'm lucky enough to find myself among the several million brand new job hunters in the market. I'm still on good terms with my old employer (and wish to keep it that way of course).

I was involved with designing electronic products (PCBs, enclosures, software etc) and that is the kind of work I wish to continue in a new job. Therefore I feel like it would be very useful to be able to show potential new employers a few non-confidential photographs of some of the equipment that I have created in the past. Work that I am very proud of.

Obviously it would be grossly unethical to do so without my old company's express permission.

A set of images could be printed out on paper (that is important, so they would never be shown in a digital format) showing both the design process and the finished product working on a bench. The photos are not so detailed that one could reverse engineer any part of the product (that precaution was taken when the pictures were captured). I would keep the pictures after the interview.

EDIT (clarification)... I do not yet have copies of the images, the company does and I'd have to ask if I can borrow them. The images were intended to be used for marketing purposes (trade show stands, newsletters etc) and are entirely innocuous and sterile from an IP point of view. Some of them are even openly on the website.

I'm not planning on working for any of my old company's business rivals.

If my boss said it was OK, I'd still have to make it abundantly clear to a potential new employer that I went out of my way to get old boss's permission to show them these pictures. I'd be happy to show them written permission, although getting that is another question entirely.

Why do I need these pictures? It would be a lot easier for me to discuss the details of product design if I can have a set of visual cues for me to discuss and for the interviewers to look at and ask questions about. Also having evidence of an advanced, finished product, shown to be working is a huge reassurance to them that I know what I'm doing in this line of work. I'm not a natural verbal communicator (typical engineer) and find it hard to talk freestyle about something that is not visible to me or the audience at the time.

  • Why do you need to prove that you did something in the past? Wouldn't proving that you can solve it NOW make more sense? – Tymoteusz Paul Jul 23 at 9:59
  • @TymoteuszPaul, Because interviews are short and demonstrating experience can be difficult (at least I find it hard to promote myself because I'm an introvert). That's why people write Resumes and CVs, to show that they have the tools learned already to be of use immediately. – user47698 Jul 23 at 10:02
  • No, not at all. What I care as employer is whether you can solve my problems, not what problems you have solved in the past. Now you can draw on past experience to help demonstrate that, but besides that your past doesn't really matter. So why not do something like instead of using old, prepare new, just for the interview? – Tymoteusz Paul Jul 23 at 10:04
  • In my experience, in my part of the world, you get asked about past projects more often than not. – user47698 Jul 23 at 10:07
  • I think you're right. Sorry to bother everyone. – user47698 Jul 23 at 11:15

The only proof you need is that you can talk in detail about the design and the issues that you encountered with it. At the interview you should be using previous projects to provide examples of how you solved problems or used your knowledge and skill. The fact that you can confidently and clearly explain those things, with a true narrative showing the process, is all the proof you require.

Of course if they do offer you the job they can contact your references to get confirmation that you worked on the projects you say you did. Make sure your references are aware of your contributions.

If the interviewer demands more proof than that you can only explain that copyright makes it impossible, and then realize you dodged a bullet anyway because you don't want to work for a boss who doubts your efforts.

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    Some companies' policy is to not give references out at all, apart to confirm the start and end date of the person's employment. They simply won't say things like "Yes, Fred Bloggs worked on Project XYZ and did a good job." Not any more. Sad really. – user47698 Jul 23 at 10:47
  • That's true. Well in that case there isn't much else you can do... Or is there? I wonder if you could potentially sue your former employer for refusing to confirm those facts, costing you a job? Well in any case it shouldn't be make-or-break, your narrative description should be. – user Jul 23 at 11:02
  • No, it doesn't matter really. They have no obligation to even confirm I worked there at all. Even that is a courtesy I cannot assume they will provide. As I say, I don't have any ill-will with them, they handled the job loss kindly and professionally, I'm much luckier than most people. – user47698 Jul 23 at 11:19
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    @Wossname you don't need to rely on someone else impressing prospective employers what you know and can do - that's what interviews are for. Use your knowledge and experience there, and (as this answer says) "clearly explain those things, with a true narrative showing the process". – Player One Jul 23 at 11:19

I assume that your work eventually turned up in some product that I could buy in a store For little money or that my company might buy for an awful lot of money. So if it is not a secret that your company produced parts of these products, you could say that You developed parts of products A, B, and C. If product X was secret, you add “and one other product that is under NDA”.

You can ask your company if you are allowed to send photos of the hardware. Most likely I could get the hardware itself by buying the product and taking it apart, so your company may not mind. Or if they have brochures that anyone would receive from them, you could ask for them and mark what you specifically designed.

Do you need proof that you are designer? If I received this material, I’d say “he is either really good, or a blatant liar”. Anything in a CV could be made up, we all know that, so it’s no problem. You’d most likely get the interview.

PS. Anything that I as a random person could view on your company’s website you can obviously mention. Include a link on your CV.

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It all depends on the person interviewing you. But you must remember that businesses know that information is confidential, so they will not require you to break confidentiality.

How will the new (potential) employer that you do not lie about the work done? It is simple - you only need to talk about it, describe some of the aspects which matter, without being secret. Depending on the way you talk, it will be (relatively) clear what kind of job you did.

Example: how will anyone believe you that you did some great job, if you do not know the initials P.C.B come from. Or why are there small holes in that green / red / brown / whatever-color board.

Therefore I feel like it would be very useful to be able to show potential new employers a few photographs of some of the equipment that I have created in the past.

Merely taking confidential information outside of the company's premises is already very dangerous, if you do not have the proper written approval to do so. Showing the said info to third parties, especially other companies, only adds to the danger.

I work in international corporations for about 20 years, I changed jobs several times. I never showed anything during interviews (except the CV). I explained everything that was asked, without giving away confidential information. I never needed to look much for a new job.

Alternative (what I do)

Occasionally, I wanted to show pictures related to what I worked in the past. And I did, safely.

I just go to the official site of the company and search there the products that I worked on. I do this usually for the products which are not know to the wide public. I just use the information already made public by the company.

Or, I tell the people the names of the products for which I worked (if the products are known to the people). Usually I disclose that information only after the products were released, or at least presented in some shows. After that, anyone can search any information they want.

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  • I have added a clarification to the question. I do not have copies of these yet, I was merely describing a possible way to present them if I was to receive permission. You assume there is an intent to do wrong where none exists. – user47698 Jul 23 at 8:57
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    After your updates, I also updated my answer. – virolino Jul 23 at 10:50

If you are planning to use the photos as a conversation starter in your interview. See it as a crutch to set you at ease and to initiate a conversation about your work history.

As you say yourself you are not planning to work for a competitor or in the same sector.

You can explicitly mention that it is early high-level designs or prototype and not the final product perhaps.

As an aside ensure you describe these designs in detail on your resume/c.v as it showcases your written communication skills. A good communicator is a skill employers will be looking for, especially if you want to progress to a more senior position.

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    "use the photos ... is fine" - only if paying huge fines, or doing jail time, is fine too. Confidential information is... confidential. Sharing any confidential information (including photos) can be interpreted as industrial espionage. – virolino Jul 23 at 8:44
  • In interviews, I've had candidates show screenshots of what they have done. It would not have been detailed enough to make use of any of the detail shown. I would also treat the interview as confidential and not keep any of the material. Please note that Wossname states, ''The photos are not so detailed that one could reverse engineer any part of the product (that precaution was taken when the pictures were captured). I would keep the pictures after the interview' – fran Jul 23 at 9:24

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