Advice & Resources

Does my credit affect my job hunt?

Applying for a job is stressful enough. Filling out an application and sitting for an interview can be intense and stressful. You might feel that everything about you and your history is being judged: your experience, your intellect, even your appearance. All of this can be overwhelming to say the least. However, these are things that you can prepare for - you know that an employer is going to ask you these questions and scrutinize your history, but what you don't know is what your potential employer already knows about you.

What employers are looking for

When you apply for a job and sign a release form, you are consenting to a background/credit/personal history check. The reports your potential employer receive will tell a story about you, where you have been and what you have done. First and foremost, the employer will be looking for any blemishes concerned with legal matters (background check), but what about the credit check? How does that affect your potential to be hired?

When your information is requested, credit bureaus will send over a variation of your credit report meant specifically for employers. This means that they won't see quite everything that a lender can see, for instance, with the biggest difference being the absence of your credit score. What is going to show up? Delinquencies, bankruptcies, judgments, liens and a list of your loans, mortgages and credit-card accounts - this is where your underwear preferences can become the target for the office gossip hotline. If you open a charge account at Victoria's Secret and spend $1,000 a year there, that line of credit will appear on your credit report.

Be Prepared

Find out what's in your credit report before you start your job search. Obtain a copy of your credit report so you're not blindsided by an inaccurate item that you don't know about until an interviewer asks. If there's a mistake on your report, contact the creditor that made the error, clear it up and ask that agency to report the mistake. If there's adverse information about unpaid student loans, charge-card bills or bankruptcies on your report, don't waste your time and money on credit repair schemes. You can't erase the truth from your credit file. But time heals all wounds; most bad credit incidents will disappear from your record after seven years.

No secrets

When you apply for a new credit card or loan, you provide information about your current employer. That information is passed along to the credit reporting service. If you leave a job off your resume and it appears on your credit report, someone may notice the discrepancy. That's another good reason to pull your own report so that your resume covers all your past work history and doesn't make it look like you are trying to hide something. If you are turned down for a job because of credit problems, the employer has to give you a copy of the report and explain your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

There is so much uncertainty involved in the process of seeking new employment, wouldn't it be nice to be confident in one more variable? Knowing your credit history as reported by the bureaus is just one more leg up to increase your chances of landing the job you really want or need. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you can access your credit report for free once every 12 months - it doesn't make sense not to be in the know, especially if it isn't costing you anything.

We wish you the best of luck on your Job Hunt.

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