Personal Finance

Poor Credit Can Complicate Your Job Hunt

| by PhilipTirone

A recent report from Inc. Magazine says at that at least 60 percent of employers run credit checks on potential job applicants at least some of the time. This is a 17 percent increase from 2006.

And given the high unemployment rate, this is particularly concerning. With a much bigger pool of candidates to choose from, employers can narrow the pool of qualified candidates by looking at a job applicant’s credit score.  Fearful that a poor credit score is a sign of irresponsibility, an employer might not offer a job to a candidate with bad credit.

This means that job applicants may be hit with a double dose of trouble. Not only are they out of work, but they also are unable to make regular payments on mounting mortgage and credit card bills, which is causing their credit score to plummet. Since many employers are making credit checks a mandatory condition of employment, job applicants with bad credit may find themselves stuck in a vicious cycle: No job translates to no ability to pay bills, which in turn causes poor credit, which means a person might be ineligible for jobs.

If you are a job applicant worried that an employer will run a credit check, your best bet is to be candid with possible employers and let them know about your experience. Since the recession has had unfortunate consequences for many people, the employer might be sympathetic to your plight. Pitch your situation as a learning experience so that you can show the employer that you are ready to move on from your mistakes.

Explain that you have started the process of learning how to build credit to minimize damage and improve your credit score.

By taking serious steps to repair your credit, your credit report might indicate that you have had a shift in the positive direction. If you walk into a job interview armed with a the facts about your credit score, how you have turned over a new leaf, and what your credit report indicates about your current behavior, a potential employer might be sympathetic, especially if you have extenuating circumstances brought on by the recession.

Though credit checks for job applicants might create barriers in the already-tight job market, employers are also likely to value an honest account of your situation. By being forthright about your past mistakes and offering evidence of your progress, employers will be more likely to look past a three-digit number and offer you the job.