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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

career counselor is advising me to lie

A reader writes:

I was told by a career counselor that if asked in an interview why I left my previous job I should answer that I was laid off. I was actually fired, but the company did not dispute my claim for unemployment so I am now collecting. I feel to tell an interviewer that I was laid off is misleading, but this career counselor stated that in the eyes of the government since I am collecting it is ok to say I was laid off, since technically you cannot collect if you are fired.

That career counselor, unfortunately, is an idiot. I hope you weren't paying this person.

First of all, you can indeed collect unemployment if you were fired, at least in most states -- as long as you weren't fired for gross or deliberate misconduct. If you were fired for mere incompetence, bad fit, etc., you can get unemployment.

Second, prospective employers don't care if the government has deemed you eligible to collect unemployment or not. You can't lie and say you were laid off when you weren't. What's going to happen when they call your employer to check references and are told you were fired? When they come back to you to ask about the disparity (if they even bother), are you going to say, "Well, they didn't challenge my unemployment so I've decided to call it a lay-off"?

This "career counselor" is giving you wrong facts and really bad advice. Run.


Kerry said...

I agree.

And I continue to be frustrated that there are people out there giving such unbelievably bad advice to job seekers who need help, not crap like this.

What exactly are this person's qualifications to be a "career counselor" anyway?

Anonymous said...

Her qualifications are probably "extensive employment-seeking experience."

Anonymous said...

BAD Career Counselor, worst advice ever!

Evil HR Lady said...

Bad advice from career counselor.

However--while it's a little late for this person--if you ever get fired, negotiate a term reason. Often, to get you to shut up and go away, they'll list your official term reason as something other than the real reason.

It's worth a shot to make job hunting easier.

And you can negotiate a voluntary termination reason with an agreement that the company won't challenge unemployment.

Charles said...

Evil HR Lady;

How is your solution - "negotiating a term reason" different from lying?

Is it simply because you won't be "found out"?

Or is it because two parties have now agreed to tell the same lie?

Evil HR Lady said...


There are at least two sides to every firing story. Usually 4 or 5 sides. In a situation where gross misconduct occurs the company won't negotiate. In a situation where the employee is terminated for non-willful non-performance it can just as well be the manager's fault as it was the employee's fault.

If the job was misrepresented, or the work changed the company can think, "this person isn't performing up to snuff" while the person is saying, "hey I did the job I was hired for just great. that job doesn't exist any more. My real job was eliminated!"

And it is important that you know exactly what your former boss/company is going to say about you before you go job hunting.

Anonymous said...

(Totally Unique Anonymous here...)

I'm in the same position as the OP.

I have consulted with my former supervisor, senior manager, and primary customer for that position, and they are all willing to give me a positive reference, in spite of the circumstances under which I left the company.

Is there a good way to find out what the HR department will say?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous (3:23 PM) - who said the career counselor was female?

Ask a Manager said...

I did. I refer to all unknown people as "she," just because I'm a she and it's easier.