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I have a background in IT sales and consulting. I have a number of recognizable companies that I have worked with internationally for which I did not sign an NDA personally nor have knowledge of an NDA.

Is it unprofessional to state something like the following in a cover letter?

I’ve conducted business with Company A, Company B, and Company C — all of which resulted in major sales.

If this is not appropriate, how can I demonstrate the same level of past success? I've tried other wording such as:

I've conducted business with several Fortune 500 firms resulting in major sales.

That doesn't seem to convey the same track record to me.

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  • I wouldnt state something like :"resulted in Major sales". Doesnt seem like something you put black on White. Commented Nov 9, 2016 at 14:17

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I'd go with "I’ve conducted business with Company A, Company B, and Company C — all of which resulted in major sales."

You have to be specific. Otherwise, your claim to be effective at sales is as vacuous as mine - and you would not want your claim to be as vacuous as mine because I am not a sales person.

In general, if you make a claim in your cover letter, put some substance behind it. Enough substance to pique their interest and hopefully get them to be curious enough about you and your capabilities to call you in for an interview.

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  • +1 for for specificity. My resume includes a sub-bullet: "Added over 150 SaaS customers over 6 years accounting for more than 33% of company revenue in 2015" Other answers do a better job of addressing whether you can reference these customers specifically.
    – Chris G
    Commented Nov 10, 2016 at 16:19
  • @ChrisG - Good. Adding 150 customers over three years is pretty intensive, successful customer development and sales experience and that's what the data you cite is supposed to indicate. And even better, you cited the impact of your work on your employer. I was Acting Head of the Security Practice of a marketing/sales consulting firm that targeted high tech clients. I did mention the names of some of the high power clients we developed and worked with on my resume - nothing confidential about those names, at least according to my company's policy. Commented Nov 10, 2016 at 16:28
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There could be a confidentiality clause in your contract that you should look at which should tell you how much information you're allowed to reveal.

If nothing seems to forbid you to bring specific names up and if this information is available already to the public then it should be okay to mention that you were the one to establish these deals.

However, if these deals or partnerships, are nowhere to be found publicly, i.e. online or mentioned by the companies on their websites, news, interviews, etc, then it's a risky business to say the least.

If in doubt go to the latter approach you mention. Describe which kind of companies you've made business deals with and which positive impacts the deals had.

You can always try to ask your former manager about how much information you're allowed to give to explain what you've accomplished for the company.

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We have pretty similar question as a company. We're a subcontractor to many big companies, and did quite a few unique things, we cannot talk about.

Rule number 1 - no matter how much you want to tell those stories now, remember, that you entered a contract and promised not to share names.

So, with this in our mind we do the following: 1. We describe the challenges for each project really carefully (if the challenge is way too unique, it may identify the project and the client, so you need to be really careful about that). We also say how we overcame those challenges and if the client was happy, how we compare to others and so on. 2. Then some clients would still ask for specific client names (from my experience - companies in the financial sector to this a lot). I tell them, that if I reveal the name - I am violating a contract with another client. And if I violate a contract with someone else, how can they trust me I will not violate their contract as well.

Usually this works, and it also shows your future client what they want to see: 1. Explaining the challenges and how you solved them should tell your employer / client, that you have the skills they need. Be specific here. Use domain language, so they see that you really actually are a rock star. 2. Explaining you are not about to violate a contract shows you're a person they can trust, and this isn't something common these days.

The above tactic usually works for us as a company and I believe if someone I am interviewing shows the same level of honor and skills at the same time he or she will be hired in our company right away.

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  • You say "remember, that you entered a contract and promised not to share names" but the OP explicitely states "for which I did not sign an NDA personally nor have knowledge of an NDA" Can you please explain how you infer that the OP is under obligation to not share names? Commented Nov 10, 2016 at 9:12
  • I suppose when you work for company by default you are expected to keep client names secret. So yes, maybe you are right, that if you haven't explicitly signed a contract in which you are required to keep client names secret you can take advantage of it, but even in this case I don't think it's a good idea. Especially for a consultant. I would definitely first make sure I have the blessings of my company and the client before I use names. Commented Nov 11, 2016 at 7:09

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