We all know that having bad credit can cost you huge interest fees. Did you also know that potential employers can apply your credit card data and history to determine whether or not you get a job?
According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 43 percent of companies polled in 2006 said they ran credit checks on at least some of their job applicants. Further, those who applied for airport screening jobs with the US Transportation Security Administration were rejected if they had more than $ 5,000 of debt.
Clearly financial history is a factor in employ-ability. The theory is that a good credit history shows that a job candidate can handle money. That is, the person pays bills on time, can manage their budget and control their spending. Someone who can do these things is perceived as responsible. One the other hand, someone who has a large amount of debt is seen as irresponsible.
However, in a tight economy, many people argue that a job loss can contribute to greater overall debt. If a person suddenly loses his or her job, whether because of job performance of a faltering economy, the person has no opportunity to find other ways to get money to pay those bills.
The result, they say, is a never-ending circle: They can't pay the debt and no one will give them a new job to pay the debt. They then incur more debt in order to try to pay the bills they already have.
If you find yourself in this situation, there are several steps you should take.
1. Get a copy of your credit report. The three credit reporting agencies usually allow one free copy of your report each year. Get it and study it to make sure it is accurate. Contact the credit reporting company if there are errors.
2. Do whatever you can to pay down your current debt. Simple things include paying cash whenever possible. Avoid splurges like lunches out and apply the savings to your credit card and other debt.
3. When you apply for a credit card, the issuing company will tell you whether or not you are denied. Pay attention especially if you are turned down because of debt. Be aware that potential employers are supposed to inform you if your credit history resulted in being denied a job or promotion.
If that happens they are supposed to give you a copy of the report, tell you which company provided that information and the means for you to dispute that claim. (However, many companies simply find another reason to not hire you.)
4. Also be aware that a bankruptcy is not a legal reason to deny you a job.
5. Have at least one major credit card but avoid having a fistful of them. Having one or two cards with a small balance that you pay off each month shows that you can handle your funds. Too many cards, even if they have a zero balance, can result in a low credit score.
Knowing that an employer can apply credit cards' information and their use to determine which candidate gets the job can make a big difference in how you spend money. While you're polishing up your resume, polish your credit card history too.