My column that addressed a similar issue came out today.
For a reader who was concerned how her damaged credit is affecting her job search, here is an excerpted version of what I advised:
“It’s true that many companies assess a job candidate’s report before hiring, and having one that looks terrific rather than awful can work in your favor. But why would an employer pull your report in the first place? They’d do it because they’re looking for objective insight into your character, financial acumen and overall level of stability. After all, you may say you’re a perfectionist, but if they see a bunch of unpaid bills on your credit report those words may not mean much.
Still, your concerns about the impact of your credit reports may be having at this stage may be unfounded, especially if you’ve yet to be invited in for a face-to-face interview.
There are many myths surrounding credit reports and employment. To get to the bottom of how they are really being used, I spoke with Lester Rosen, president and CEO of Employment Screening Resources, a credit reporting agency and human resources consulting firm based in Novato, Calif.
Employers don’t randomly access credit reports from all job applicants. They only do so for those who are solid candidates, says Rosen. “If they are pulling it, congratulations! They are doing a background check, and that is good news, as they are seriously considering you for the position. They won’t run it before you are a finalist.” He also says they aren’t
checked for all occupations or industries. Most employers are looking at credit reports for people applying for positions that are clearly related to finance or have access to cash or credit. And in general, they don’t access credit reports for people applying for minimum wage jobs.
The only way an employer can pull your report is with your permission. Therefore, if they ask, head over to the human resources department and explain your situation — you borrowed money and got into a tight spot because you’ve been out of work. It’s a temporary problem and one that you will swiftly resolve when you are back to work as usual.
Do know, though, that a potential boss does not have access to the same type of reports that lenders do. The ones employers can see never include your credit scores or list your date of birth. All they can view is your credit history. Oh, and if you’re concerned about how these credit report pulls may harm your report further, you can relax. Unlike when a prospective creditor checks it, no “inquiry” will be listed.
OK, so that is the gist of my story. Now I’m not saying that a bad credit report CAN’T be used as an excuse to not hire a good candidate because he or she isn’t the “right” shade. However, they aren’t as powerful and important as you may think they are. If someone wants to hire you but you’ve had some problems with debt, chances are they will be willing to give you a break.