Could Bad Credit Kill Your Job Chances?

By Zaneta Lowe  - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - A viewer recently emailed us asking how and why companies check your credit during a job search. So we went straight to the experts to find out.

"They don't want to know necessarily what you've got in your checking account or how much you owe on your car or how much your mortgage is," says Columbus ManPower Branch Manager Delia Postell.

However, experts say companies do dig deeply into a potential employee's background, including their credit history.

"A lot of companies look for something called judgements, judgements against you where you have outstanding debt that has gone to collection," explains Postell.

Postell says these credit checks often take place with certain types of companies and for employees who would have access to a company's or a customer's personal and financial information.

Plus, it gives them sort of snapshot of a person's values.

"If you've been mature and responsible with your own finances, then chances are you're going to be fiscally responsible with that company's information," adds Postell.

If you are looking for work and worried about your credit, Senior Financial Advisor Greg McBride offers these tips.

  • Order a copy of your credit report.

Georgia residents are entitled to free copies twice a year.  Just log onto annualcredit, and make sure you get a copy from each major bureau.

  • Examine the report carefully.

Often times there are mistakes, which brings us to the next tip.

  • File a dispute to get any errors corrected.

McBride says those are the best options to cleaning up your credit in the short term.  For the future however, paying bills on time and paying down existing debt, McBride says are critical steps.  He says those two things alone account for two-thirds of your credit score.  However, in a job search, employers will be researching your credit history (not necessarily your score), so that's what job seekers should focus on.

The good news though, Postell says she believes some job seekers could get a break.  She says company officials likely realize some folks have fallen on hard times given the current economic climate.

"I think the economy and certain conditions have sort of mandated that companies re-examine their standards and kind of marry up those standards with what's going on in the environment."

One more thing to keep in mind is that job searches, especially once you get to the interview phase, are judged on an individual basis.  Postell says employers will weigh your credit issues with your job history and many other factors.

However, if you are in trouble, go ahead and get some professional help.