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Are Credit Checks on Job Seekers Really Necessary?

Credit CheckFinding a job is tough enough today. Unfortunately, some employers make it even tougher by asking to look at your credit history. As if that should make a difference when you’re applying for a job in, say, teaching or nursing, or if you want to oversee computer networks or – umm – even write for a web site.

Certainly, checking your credit is justifiable if the job is in accounting or finance, or in the financial services industry. Companies, after all, don’t want people with financial problems watching over their assets. But is it really necessary to base a hiring decision on how much credit card debt the job applicants have, or whether they were late with a mortgage payment, or fell behind on medical payments because they had no health insurance - since they have no jobs?

Lawmakers in at least 16 states find this practice as insidious and privacy-invasive as I find it, and they’ve filed bills to curb most credit checks by employers. I mean, how can someone improve their credit rating if no one will hire them because of some temporary financial blemish on their credit history?

Some employers will argue that running a credit check gives them an idea of the candidate’s honesty and sense of responsibility. Really?!? They could find out that and even more by calling references and doing a web search. Or is that just too hard and time-consuming?

Fellow career blogger Eve Tahmincioglu addressed this topic last week on her blog, CareerDiva.net. She argues that an employer could even take credit screening a bit further by using it as a cover to discriminate against minority hires.

Under federal law, an employer must get an applicant to agree in writing to have their credit history checked—if an outside screener does the fact-checking. But no permission is required if the employer does the checking itself.

But anyone who refuses may be sinking their chances. And in today’s economy, unfortunately, many unemployed people will do anything just to start drawing a paycheck again.

Have you ever agreed to a credit check by an employer or potential employer? Did you feel it was necessary or did you believe you had to agree to it? Tell us about your experience.

RELATED LINKS

Good Job Seeker, Bad Credit: Are You Screwed?
Job Searching with an Imperfect Past or Criminal Record
Jobless? Don’t Let Desperation Expose You to ID Theft

 

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