How To Write a Resume If You Have Had an NDA

If you’ve completed work under an NDA, this guide will walk you through how to write a compelling resume without sacrificing confidentiality.

a month ago   •   5 min read

By Resume Worded Editorial Team
Table of contents

NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) aren’t uncommon, but they can be tricky to work with — especially if you’re trying to write a resume with an NDA in mind.

What is an NDA? Basically, it’s an agreement between you and a client or employer that you won’t talk about certain aspects of your work. This could include sensitive information, details of unreleased projects, or even the name of the client.

An NDA might seem like a dealbreaker for a resume — after all, how do you talk about your work if you can’t actually say anything about it? — but it doesn’t have to be. Here’s how to write an effective resume without violating your NDA.

How to deal with an NDA on a resume

  1. Read the exact terms of the NDA. Make sure you’re familiar with exactly what it prohibits.
  2. Obscure identifying information.
  3. Focus on your contribution rather than the overall project.
  4. Explicitly mention that you’re under NDA so the lack of details doesn’t look odd.

Let’s go over each of those steps in a little more detail.

Familiarize yourself with the NDA

No two NDAs are exactly alike. NDAs vary in how strict they are, so make sure you know where the limits are. Can you talk about what you did for a project but not mention it by name? Reveal that you worked for a company but not the details of what that work entailed? It’s unlikely that you’ll need to leave it off your resume entirely, unless it was a matter of national security, so knowing exactly what you can and can’t say is an essential first step.

Look for information like:

  • What are you allowed to reveal about the work?
  • What can you explicitly not say about the work?
  • What are the limits on the NDA?
  • How long is the NDA in effect?

Be vague about identifying information

Not only is this a good strategy for abiding by the terms of your NDA, it can also help recruiters by providing more context for your previous accomplishments. There are a few different ways you can do this:

Don’t use company names. Instead of “launched marketing campaign for Facebook,” change it to “launched marketing campaign for social media website.”

Don’t identify the project. Instead of “led 5-person team to design Robinhood app,” write “led 5-person team to design commission-free stock trading app.”

Don’t use absolute numbers. Instead of “closed government contract worth $5M,” keep things harder to identify with “closed new high-value government contract, increasing revenue by 10%.”

Focus on results

Hiring managers are unlikely to care if you leave out the details of a project as long as they can tell what you actually did. The best strategy for keeping your resume accomplishment-focused without straying into NDA-violating territory is to talk about the tools, languages, or platforms you used.

Example:

  • Wrote back-end APIs for a geo-distributed web application using the React framework capable of supporting 50m+ concurrent users.
Detail specific tools, software, and other hard skills in your bullet points to avoid mentioning NDA projects by name
Detail specific tools, software, and other hard skills in your bullet points to avoid mentioning NDA projects by name

Mention the NDA directly

If it’s allowed under the terms of your NDA, you can mention it on your resume to explain why that section is light on details.

You can mention the NDA in your job title if you can’t say exactly what you did. For example, “NDA (Engineering Project).”

If you can’t reveal any information about a project but want to include it on your resume, mention the NDA
If you can’t reveal any information about a project but want to include it on your resume, mention the NDA

If you’re allowed to share your role in the project but not details about your accomplishments, you can list the NDA in your bullet points. For example, “subject to NDA, no further details available.

Mention an NDA in your bullet points to explain a lack of details on your resume
Mention an NDA in your bullet points to explain a lack of details on your resume

Tips for dealing with an NDA on your resume

General or industry-specific NDAs

  • Most NDAs have an expiry date. After it ends, you’ll be able to reveal any details that were previously classified.
  • Some companies will have pre-approved talking points that you can use, which may save you some time (and a lot of potential worry).
  • If you’re still unsure about the details of what you can include in your resume or portfolio, ask the company directly.
  • Double check to make sure that you’ve redacted any identifying information and haven’t violated the terms of your NDA. If in doubt, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Military NDAs

If you’re under an NDA because you were in the military or have security clearance, your NDA is likely to be stricter about what you can and can’t say. The good news is, you should also have a little more guidance on how to navigate it. In particular:

  • Get familiar with pre-publication review. Before you publish anything — including your resume — have someone more senior read over it and certify that it’s okay.
  • Check for pre-approved bullet points. These might not sound very flashy or impressive, but they’ll convey the basics of what you did without breaking your NDA.

If you were in the military, read our guide on how to include your military experience on a resume.

How to say you handle confidential information on a resume

Applying for a job where you’re likely to be handling sensitive information or under an NDA? Here are some basic guidelines to follow:

  • Respecting any existing NDAs is a good first step — most employers will understand that you’ll treat their information the same way.
  • If you really want to emphasize discretion, explicitly mentioning the NDA and being extra careful not to give too much away can actually work in your favor.
  • Include accomplishments that show your ability to handle sensitive information, for example “Prepared confidential reports …” or “Created confidential data pipeline …”

Resume NDA examples

Ready to start writing your NDA-compliant resume? Let’s have a look at some concrete examples of resume accomplishments that won’t breach an NDA.

How to redact a client name

  • Before: “Led Facebook’s ‘We’re so Meta’ marketing campaign, generating 500,000 new Facebook accounts and $3M in revenue.”
  • After: “Led major marketing campaign for social media website, generating 500,000 new users and $3M in revenue.”

How to avoid mentioning a project by name

  • Before: “Redesigned and formatted WealthMap.”
  • After: “Redesigned and formatted 200-page wealth guide to inspire and motivate other clients.”

How to remove identifying information

  • Before: “Increased annual volume from $5 million wholesale to over $20 million by introducing discrete assembly lines.”
  • After: “Increased annual volume by 400% by introducing new production methods.”

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