You've shined your shoes, know where you see yourself in five
years and boned up on the firm's bigwigs. Before applying for that
dream -- or even interim -- job, you may want to pull your credit
report and deal with any problems first.
Nearly half of all companies check an applicant's credit report
prior to a hiring decision, according to a
by the Society for Human Resource Management. While some only give
the reports a cursory glance, certain industries are especially
discerning about what's listed. If your file indicates that you've
had money troubles, you may score the interview, but not the
position. To date, only
limit an employers' use of credit information in employment
Here are seven jobs for which checking your credit report is de
1. Parking booth operator.
As long as it involves financial dealings, no job is too small for
a credit check, says Steven Kane, a human resources expert and
former associate general counsel for labor and employment law at
Baxter international, a Fortune 500 global medical services and
Even if you're considering such casual work at a car park, your
credit report should be clean. "The parking booth where they take
in money all day long is a good example," says Kane, who is also
board president of the Oakland Zoo in Oakland, Calif., where they
also check reports on potential employees. "If someone has a
bankruptcy, that's something we'd look into and question. If it's a
mortgage issue and there was a foreclosure, late payments or
extremely high debt, that would also be a red flag." When you
handle hundreds of dollars in cash each day, a report that shows
you're trustworthy is important.
2. The military.
So you want to do your civic duty by joining the armed forces?
Fantastic. Unless, that is, you have a credit report that has
collection accounts, unpaid loans or bankruptcies on it. Those
black marks will affect your security clearance, which is an
inquiry that focuses on your character and conduct. Financial
responsibility is one of the key factors it gauges.
Each branch of the military has its specific credit
requirements. The Air Force, for instance, will reject you if your
monthly consumer debt exceeds 40 percent of the anticipated pay.
Bad checks, repossessions, canceled or suspended charge accounts or
indebtedness exceeding half the annual salary of your future pay
grade will sink your chances in the Navy.
Whether your goal is to become a CPA, auditor or other professional
who balances books, it only makes sense that your own record should
be above reproach. Since you'll have access to individual or
company private data, a credit report that indicates indiscretions
will be flagged.
4. Mortgage loan originator.
Securing loans for homebuyers can be a highly rewarding occupation.
But a mortgage loan originator requires a license, and according to
the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry, the way
you've borrowed and repaid your personal debts is
a factor in approval
. Each state regulator independently reviews the credit information
of mortgage loan originators in their jurisdiction, and your
license may be rejected or revoked if your credit is damaged. As
per their resource center, mortgage loan officers need to have
"demonstrated financial responsibility, character, and general
fitness such as to command the confidence of the community and to
warrant a determination that applicants will operate honestly,
fairly, and effectively."
The impetus for the high standard? Tony Deblauwe, founder of
HR4Change, and author of "Tangling with Tyrants: Managing the
Balance of Power at Work," cites the subprime mortgage debacle of
2008, when some in the industry were overstating incomes to get
people loans they didn't qualify for. Today, banks are more
selective with their employees, paying close attention to their
financial management. "I don't think there's a bank or lender today
that would knowingly hire someone who has a poor credit history,"
5. Transportation Security Administration.
Walk through this credit check slowly: The
expects its employees to possess stellar credit. As per its job
application form, the administration is "very serious about the
reliability and trustworthiness of individuals hired into the
agency." You'll be turned down if you have cumulative delinquent
debt of more than $7,500 and any amount of unpaid federal or state
tax liens, delinquent child support, unsatisfied court judgments or
delinquent student loans.
6. Law enforcement.
Picture this: You're about to arrest a crook, when suddenly he
whips out not a gun, but a wad of cash as incentive to let him run
free. Do you take it? If you have overwhelming debts, you might
hesitate. Therefore, a credit report that shows you're consistently
behind on bills or maintain massive balances makes you appear risky
to the department, says Richard Weinblatt (aka "The Cop Doc"), who
is also dean of the School of Public and Social Services at Ivy
Tech Community College in Indianapolis.
"If someone is under financial pressure, they are more open to
bribes," says Weinblatt. "The other thing we look for is people who
have patterns of responsibility -- or irresponsibility. A one-time
blip on a credit report is not a problem. But consistently not
meeting your debts? That is a problem."
7. Temporary service positions.
Hold on to your resume if you're trying to get by with a temporary
position. A placement agency may not just hire you, but
you if your credit report isn't up to snuff. Pre-employment
screening is the norm and, when not disallowed by law, credit
report reviews are standard procedure. According to the Robert Half
Professional Staffing Services' document, "
What You Should Know about Background Checks
," they're conducted "to get a sense of whether a candidate is
responsible with money or has financial difficulties that could
affect his or her job performance."
There are a few reasons temp agencies look for a blemish-free
report, says Deblauwe: "They take a risk by putting you in the
position where there could be a security breach. Also, a good
percentage of temps turn into permanent employees, so if everything
is perfect and nice going in, there's less trouble in the future."
It gives the agency flexibility with assignments, too. You may be
working where excellent credit is not needed one week, but is the
Where might job seekers not experience discrimination for poor
credit? Serving as a U.S. politician, apparently. As a society,
Americans may be becoming more sympathetic to others who have money
woes, and so can be surprisingly
. As for what's on the credit reports, well, that's not public
information. So while you may need to fix financial indiscretions
before a job search, a mayor, senator and even the president is
safe from the same scrutiny.
How bad credit can affect your job search
6 myths about credit report checks by employers