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For the last 3 years, I've been working as a contractor, providing services to a large company--let's call it "XYZ". I've chosen not to become a permanent employee of XYZ because my hourly rate as a contractor is much higher than what I'd get on salary for an equivalent position.

When I initially got the job, I was told that it would be a 3-month project, but due to pressing needs and my relatively rare skill set, I was kept on. Realizing that this was likely to be a long-term job rather than a quick contracting gig, and that XYZ was a much more widely known company than my contracting agency, I identified my employer as XYZ on Facebook. Over the past 3 years, I've gone through several different contracting agencies but continued to provide services to XYZ, so I've kept them listed as my employer.

Is it appropriate, from an HR perspective, to list XYZ as my employer on Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media? I'm not actually their employee, and don't have benefits through them, but my contracting work with them is full-time 40+ hours per week, and now seems to be indefinite.

Some other Workplace.SE answers indicate that there's no problem with listing XYZ as my employer on my resume, but my social media content is more publicly available than my resume, so I'm wondering if it's appropriate professional behavior to present myself as working for XYZ, given that there's no way for me to identify it as a contract job on my Facebook profile.

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    Do these places let you list a job title, or just an employer? (I know with LinkedIn you list both; I don't know about Facebook, nor what other sites you're talking about.) I've seen people list job titles like "Contract Software Developer" or "Test Lead (Contract)"; would that work for you? – Monica Cellio Apr 4 '14 at 2:28
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I think this is probably fine while you are actively working for company XYZ. I use probably because if there's a problem, someone will say something to you and you can easily correct it.

The tricky part becomes when you look for another job, purely because more and more companies cross check resumes with social media profiles and reference checks. If a discrepancy exists between these, it could get confusing and delay things at best and at worst, cast aspersions upon you.

I'm assuming from your question that your Facebook profile is open and public? If it's not and it's used purely for personal reasons, this should be fine. But if it's open and public like LinkedIn is, I think you need to be a little careful.

I've worked with long term consultants for many years in big companies and they tend to do things like "title=IT Consultant" and "company=XYZ"—I think this portrays things accurately and still allows you to use the company's name.

  • This answer works the best for me because a) it specifically addresses social media and b) discusses potential issues that can arise from improperly declaring my employer (e.g., discrepancy). – sigil Apr 4 '14 at 18:56
  • Thanks @sigil! You are wise to consider and take seriously what information you put down on social media sites. Employers are becoming more and more social media savvy. – NatzG Apr 4 '14 at 19:24
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I don't see why not. Your paid by XYZ, you do work for XYZ and if you ever needed a reference it would be provided by XYZ. As long as if anyone ever asked if you were full time employed or not, you specified that you were a self-employed contractor, currently working under contract for XYZ then there's no harm. You're not deliberately misrepresenting yourself because as you mention, there are no options on Facebook, LinkedIn or other social media to say that you are a contractor rather than a full time employee.

I think the only exception to this would be if XYZ saw that you had put your employment status as working for XYZ on your social media and asked you to change this. Why they would though I can't imagine.

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Not only is it entirely appropriate, it's also very normal. You may wish to highlight that you're a contractor, but you don't have to.

Ultimately, semantics aside, this is the company who are in receipt of your services and there's absolutely nothing wrong with borrowing their name to highlight your credibility. If you were a rocket engineer and had a contract with NASA you'd want to highlight it, wouldn't you?

Even if you wanted to make the job title a generic 'Consultancy Services' role, it would still be very much encouraged to name drop them. People like to know where you've been and what experience you have and it's generally to your advantage.

In addition, unless you mean you're own personal company, I've never seen anyone put the name of the agency down. It's absolutely immaterial and won't mean anything to anyone.

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People use social media sites like LinkedIn to keep in contact with former co-workers, and to find new positions. You are a contractor, which isn't a bad thing, so you should state that what you are. Your text can describe the nature of the work you did/do, but each contracting company should either be listed or use the generic term contractor as employer.

I wouldn't list company XYZ as my employer on either my resume, or social media. You aren't an employee of Company XYZ you are an employee of contracting company ABC.

Frequently when you need to provide work history for a new job, they will call a toll free service who will verify that person X worked for company XYZ from start date to end date. You won't be in their database of current or former employees. You will be on the list of people that were given contractor access to their facility; the same as the cleaning crew, or the people that restocked the soda machine.

Keep in mind that in some cases you can't reveal the customer, or in some cases the customer varies but not the contracting company. In my case I worked for 1 contracting company for years, but supported 3 different government agencies. In government contracting the contracting company may be more well known than the customer.

  • That's a good point about the verification service. I've been issued an XYZ company email address, so it's possible that they will have me in their database; good to be aware of the potential issue, though. – sigil Apr 4 '14 at 18:44
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You definitely worked for Company XYZ and Company XYZ did pay for your services, although through contractors.

This what I would write on the resume: "

Company XYZ (date-range)

Consultant Software Engineer

Provided software engineering services ... "

You'll tell the HR of whatever prospective employer you are interviewing with that you provided consulting services to Company XYZ through a series of contractors, which you'll be happy to name. That's all there is to it. Prospective employers are looking for two things on your resume: (1) who you did it for, and (2) what you did for them. Leave out of the resume complex/intricate details that add nothing to anyone's understanding as to who you did it for and what you did for them - You'll get your chance to include them later in the hiring process.

And yes, get references from Company XYZ.

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