Over at the Atlanta Journal and Constitution,there is another article about pre-employment credit checks. This is a fairly well balanced article, pointing out the absurdity of the situation where credit checks are used to deny employment for little or no reason. While the law does require that employers inform applicants when they are denied a position due to information on their credit report, the reality is that they rarely ever do. In fact, few employers give applicants any kind of rejection notice, and giving a reason for their rejection is extremely rare.
What To Do If You Are Worried About Your Credit Affecting Your Application
There are many people in this economy who have fallen into debt due to unemployment. It is incredibly cruel to deny someone a job for this reason. If your credit has suffered, but a company would like a credit check before hiring, there are few things you can do.
First, speak candidly with the person making the hiring decision. Explain why you had problems with your credit, and show them how it will not affect your ability to do your job. The reason is important. If you were in debt due to unemployment or a medical issue, one would hope an employer would be more sympathetic than someone who got into debt due to a gambling problem. Don’t lie, as your credit report will show who you owe money to.
If you can, try to put off authorizing a credit check until the end of the interview process. If you receive a standard application, and you really feel that your credit is not relevant to the job you are applying for, do not sign the authorization. If the person accepting your application asks you to sign it, explain that you would prefer to discuss the matter with the person making the hiring decision first.
Ask to obtain a copy of your credit check as a condition of your authorization. At the very least, it will give you an opportunity to address and correct any errors in your credit report. Practically speaking, you should always be checking your credit report for errors, especially if you are looking for work.
Form A Relationship
Getting hired is all about selling yourself. The key to overcoming a problem credit report is relating to the decision maker as a person. Convince them that you are the most qualified applicant, and that the circumstances behind your adverse credit information are not relevant to the position. The challenge is to do so in a way that does not make you seem like someone who always has an excuse for everything. For example, you could say:
“Prior to last year I had excellent credit. Due to a medical condition, much of which was not covered by my insurance, I was unable to pay some of my bills on time. Thankfully, I was able to make a full recovery, but I take responsibility for my debts and I believe in working hard pay them back and rebuild my credit. “
Framing your bad credit as something you take responsibility for as a motivation to work hard disarms the interviewer from the notion that someone with bad debt is a deadbeat and threat to steal from their employer. Instead, you have used this difficulty subject as an opportunity to frame yourself as responsible and hard working.
Timing Is Important
The most important piece of advice that I can give is to have this conversation before the credit check is run, rather than after. For one, you will probably not get the opportunity to respond to a bad credit check, an employer will merely decline to present you with a job offer. Secondly, an employer who is aware of credit issues will not be surprised if you have told him or her about it ahead of time. They might even be pleasantly surprised that your credit is not as bad as it could have been.
Short of an unexpected windfall, gaining employment is a necessary first step to getting out of debt and improving your credit. It is important that you use every possible technique to overcome a bad credit report when your prospective employer decides to take a look.