Is it unethical to say I still work at a company if I was very recently let go? (job search is easier when already employed?)

I just got fired from my job (public accounting). Reason was performance, I didn't like the job; but I honestly did try my hardest. But in the end, I wasn't good enough at it, so they let me go, performance being the reason. Overall, I would say I was well liked at this company, and most people were upset to hear what happened. I think this might factor into why they agreed to only give future employers my basic information, as well as the dates I worked, no negative feedback on me, just a clean, neutral, but not necessarily good reference. But I am now looking to transition into a role closer to finance, which I am much more passionate about, whether that be FP&A at a small company, corporate finance, treasury, sales, honestly, anything over pure accounting. And if it absolutely came down to it, I'd take a private accounting position if nothing else, but no way I'll go back to public accounting (unless advisory/consulting), I absolutely do not want to do that anymore.

Everyone knows its better to look for a job when you are already employed, and since this separation happened very very recently (a few days ago), would it be entirely unethical to market myself and speak as if I am a currently employed person looking for new opportunities? Just for the next week or two, so they gap is so small, it could look inconsequential. Or would I be shooting myself in the foot if they call my old job and ask for specific dates of hire, and then they would know that when I interviewed them I was already not working there?

One of the reasons I am considering this is specifically because they are agreeing to give me a clean reference (dates worked). So signed a form saying they wouldn't trash me if future employers called. Or should I just be glad they are giving me a clean reference and just say that I left the company? (I can easily get away with this since my old company will not give any details regarding how or why the separation happen) How often do jobs actually call your old company to verify employment?

Comments (4)

Feb 26, 2019

I think being honest is the way to go here - employment dates come up pretty quickly in a background check. There are plenty of stories on here about offers being rescinded over resume discrepancies, better to be safe than sorry

Feb 26, 2019
Fr0nt0ffice:

they agreed to only give future employers my basic information, as well as the dates I worked.

Yes, employment verification calls happen frequently enough that it would be a terrible idea to lie about it.

Feb 26, 2019
g keep:

I think being honest is the way to go here - employment dates come up pretty quickly in a background check. There are plenty of stories on here about offers being rescinded over resume discrepancies, better to be safe than sorry

HighlyClevered:

Yes, employment verification calls happen frequently enough that it would be a terrible idea to lie about it.

Thank you for your replies, I've been thinking about it and talking to people, and it seems like lying about employment dates isn't a good idea. I have another question:

  1. If I am to admit that I do not work there anymore, should I say in future interviews that I voluntarily quit my job, or that I was laid off for non-performance reasons?

I can get away with either one of these since my old employer agreed not to disclose why I was let go, just provide effective dates of employment. I don't like the idea of lying, but I think option 3, say I was let go because I did not perform well enough might be the worst option to go with, and no decent company will take a chance on someone like that. My company did recently experience an unexpected reduction in revenue due to new regulations, and they did hire more people than needed this year, leaving many of us with little work to do, but I (along with a few others) were deemed as the bottom performers and the company cut us loose. So I could throw that into the "laid off" option, plus I was looking for other opportunities after the spring anyway, so I saw it an a chance to make a change.

What do you think sounds better, "I quit because I wanted to look for a new job", or "I was laid off for non-performance reasons (1st year staff) , and I was seeking new opportunities anyway, so now I am seeking opportunities?" I know both are worse than "I'm still employed, but I am seeking new opportunities", but apparantly that is a risk I shoudn't take, in case they do a likely background and employment dates check.

Feb 26, 2019
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