How Your Credit Score Can Affect a Job Search

Ethel Gonzales

Background checks and drug tests on prospective employees have become routine in most industries. Most job seekers understand that a background investigation will include criminal and employment history. Unfortunately, many do not realize that the majority of all background checks also include your credit score. Consent is required for release of this information. Ask if the consent to a background check includes a credit report. Refusing to grant consent for a background check, of course, raises big red flags and immediately eliminates the candidate from serious consideration for the job. The key here is preparation. When consent is given for a background check, be sure you know in advance what to expect. Every American is entitled to an annual free credit check. Be sure you request this report. This will provide the opportunity to resolve any errors on your credit report. If there is any legitimate negative information on the report, you can attempt to resolve the problem or, at the very least, be prepared for tough questions from a prospective employer.

Although employers may hire a candidate with financial problems, a low credit rating can affect your chances of a job offer. This is especially true if the open position includes any financial responsibility. If your job search includes a recruiter, be sure you keep the recruiter informed of any negative information that may be revealed. This will enable the recruiter to counsel you on if, and when, the situation should be discussed with a prospective employer. Depending on the company and the position, a low credit score may be the end of a job possibility. If this is the case, do not waste your time or the time of the interviewer. On the other hand, the recruiter may be able to discuss the situation with the employer and pave the way for an interview and ultimate job offer.

If the open position did not describe necessary requirements for your credit score, you may not need to discuss credit issues until a serious job offer has been made and you know that a credit check is imminent. At that point, request a meeting with the appropriate person, most likely someone in Human Resources. Take a copy of your credit report to the meeting. Be prepared to explain what caused the low score, mention that it did not affect previous job performance, and explain what you are doing to raise the score.

In summary, do your homework and obtain a copy of your credit report, resolve any errors, take steps to improve the score and be honest. With honesty and a positive attitude, a prospective employer may be willing to give you the opportunity to prove yourself worthy of the job.

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