In short my question is: can I say/reply "I work for company X" in a
professional environment even if I am not specifically an employee of
You can say something like "I work for company Y and I'm currently deployed at company X".
Yes! I've worked at several Fortune 500 companies. In one case I was a contractor. Usually I would put "Big Name Company, Such and such Title (Contract)" on my resume. I've passed background checks with that. You just give the contract agency contact info when you provide references.
What's wrong with:
My current position is as a contract employee at xyz Corporation. Here's what I'm currently working on for them...
It's a networking event. People in IT know that contracting is common. I've been exactly where you are at. Both as a straight contractor and a contract-to-hire role.
I have a similar thing going on with my CV - in my case, I put it down as
Company X (On behalf of Company Y)
And in fact, for me, it's even more complex because sometimes I'm actually personally contracted through a third firm. In my case, all three are names I want to appear on my CV so I've got one portion which is like this:
Company Z (2011 - 2014)
You are only doing this because the customer is better known.
You are asking about a situation at a networking event. That means that many others are likely similar to you. You should stick to the truth that you are an employee of a company who has contracts with other companies. In many parts of the world that is a very common occurrence, and the ...