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I want to ask someone at my company, e.g. a manager, about using samples of work in a professional portfolio because I'm starting to look for a job change, but I don't want to let on that I'm looking elsewhere. I want to make sure I'm not breaching any company policies by posting examples of my work online.

I have looked on our company's internal servers but couldn't find any relevant info - I can keep looking but I suspect someone may just know the answer. Even if I ask them to be discreet I feel like it'll slip out somehow. Or if I ask the question plain and simple, it'll be implicitly obvious why I'm asking.

The reason I don't want my current employer to know is that they will probably start looking for my replacement, and I don't want this to happen until I've secured another job.

Or, am I being overly paranoid?

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    Why do you really need to include sample code/artifacts? If you're a technology/domain expert, or having knowledge in certain programming language, create a small project / codebase on GitHub and use that instead. That should be enough to showcase your capabilities. – Sourav Ghosh Nov 2 '20 at 15:23
  • Have you checked your employment contract? That should spell out who owns the copyrights to any work you've produced for the company (it's most likely the company). – Nuclear Hoagie Nov 2 '20 at 15:24
  • @NuclearHoagie the contract states that the company owns any work I produce on company time - however, I know there have been cases of e.g. external contractors being permitted to use curated samples of their work externally. – Touchdown Nov 2 '20 at 15:26
  • @SouravGhosh In general I agree, but in this case there's work I've done professionally that I'd like to demonstrate, and it would require a significant time and financial investment from me to produce something at a similar level of depth and quality on my own. So I was wondering if I could showcase what I've already done at work. – Touchdown Nov 2 '20 at 16:38
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Give a plausible alternative reason for asking.

There is an obvious threatening answer to why you would need this information. There are also plenty of non-threatening reasons, such as:

  • You are applying to give a talk at a conference.
  • You want to do a presentation at your kid's school on what it is you do
  • You are giving a career presentation to students at your alma mater
  • You are pitching an article and want to fill out your online profile more
  • You are thinking of mentoring students at a hackathon and want to show them well architected code

Not everything you might want to share fits one of those formats. I am not sure what exactly it is you want to reveal, but the point remains.

While they might give you an answer for that specific situation, they might also give you all information on policies generally in that area. You are hoping for the latter.

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  • Not enough for an answer, but I'd add - and follow through with your plausible reason for asking – Noel Nov 2 '20 at 18:05
  • Deceptively gaining access to company property to be used for personal gain? This feels rather like suggesting the OP hop across their bridges carrying an open container of petrol in one hand and lit match in the other. – motosubatsu Nov 3 '20 at 10:00
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Or, am I being overly paranoid?

No. You want to make sure you stay in control of the conversation and talk about your desire to leave (or any potential changes at your current job) when you are ready for it and with terms that you control. Letting it accidentally slip is not a good idea.

This may be a moot point anyway. You can certainly use whatever you want as long as it's in the public domain. If you can find it on Google or can link to it somehow, it's fair game and you don't need permission for it.

Anything that's not in the public domain, you are unlikely to get permission for, regardless of whether you ask or not. There is no benefit for the company to allow you to use confidential information for a private purpose (whatever it may be) and most employment contracts explicitly spell this out.

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