Many candidates are reluctant to drop names in their job search, thinking it will break some type of confidence. In reality the contrary is true. As long as you are not legally restricted from doing so, dropping names is fine and can enhance your opportunities in your job search. Let me give a few examples.
First of all, dropping employer names. This can fall into two specific areas: 1) “hidden” employers with whom you have worked; and 2) employers with whom you are interviewing. Let’s cover each.
For employers with whom you have worked, most candidates generally understand that it is permissible to use current and past employers names on both the resume and within the interview. However, many roles involve doing work on behalf of your employer for other companies. This is usually in the form of a client relationship. Unless you are specifically restricted from using the names of these other companies, you can use the name of the other company/employer on both your resume and within your interviews. For example, your actual employer may be a consulting firm or temporary work agency, but the actual work was for a known name brand employer. For example, if you worked for Google through Allegis Staffing, the most appropriate way to list this experience is in either of these formats:
Google (thru Allegis)
Allegis (on assignment at Google)
However, when you interview, you will be talking almost exclusively about Google.
Think about it from the hiring employer perspective. The fact that the work you did was for Google is far more relevant than the name of the company on your paycheck.
The second area where candidates are reluctant to provide names is telling an interviewer the other employers with whom they are actively interviewing. I used to be VP Global Talent Acquisition at Amazon. When we interviewed a candidate, we asked about other employers interviewing. It could be that we were exclusive, which is fine. But if the candidate was interviewing with Google, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft, we wanted to know. And having this knowledge didn’t hurt the candidate, it helped the candidate. It forced us to move quicker and make our offer that much more competitive. Any employer will react positively to the knowledge that you are also interviewing with several competitors.
The final area of name dropping is contact names. If you know someone who works at the employer, you should always contact them first before making your approach for a job. Why? Because most major employers have active employee referral programs, which give red carpet treatment to referrals from internal employees. You will not only have an advocate inside the company, you will also have access to insider information which most candidates do not. Your internal contact can help push consideration on the employer side and assist you in preparing for the interview. Be prepared for interviewers to reference you with your internal contact. So you can also help your internal contact to have as much information as possible about the role and status.
Knowing when and where to drop names can help you to move forward in your job search.