Did you know employers may want to check your credit before they hire you? While companies are more likely to be concerned with credit when the job specifically involves managing money, credit could come into play as a factor for anyone who will be handling money. The concern is that people in the midst of financial problems may not be the most responsible when it comes to handling an employer’s money.
Many people have been denied opportunities as a result of their poor credit score, and I was recently interviewed for a Wall Street Journal article on the subject.
One thing I discussed with the journalist: if you’re looking for a job, be sure to check your own credit, as you may be surprised to find something is not exactly right. Perhaps someone has stolen your identity and brought down your credit score; you want to have time to address it before an employer asks about it.
However, it’s possible the low score is accurate. You’ll want to be prepared to discuss this with the employer if you are asked to sign a waiver to allow your score to be checked.
How can you handle bad credit in the job search?
When it’s clear the employer will be checking credit before offering the job, consider explaining if there were extenuating circumstances leading to the poor credit score. Maybe a family emergency or a health expense led to the issue. Be sure to explain why the problem is in the past and wouldn’t lead to another concern on the employer’s part. For example, if you had to cover expenses for a family member’s medical issue, it would be best if that issue is now solved and not ongoing. Otherwise, the employer may worry about a candidate being distracted by an ongoing family issue. You can see why explaining this problem is really a case-by-case issue; you will need to decide what information will be most favorable to you and share it accordingly.
If the issue is years old
If your financial woes or mistakes are in the past, you may want to explain what you’ve learned from past financial mistakes and what steps you’ve taken to correct them. Perhaps an employer would accept such an explanation, especially if the candidate can illustrate improvement.
Be sure to read the piece in the Wall Street Journal for more specifics.