Job Hunters: Don't Worry About Credit Checks

Job Hunters: Don't Worry About Credit Checks

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With the unemployment rate still hovering around 8.2%, there are a lot of job-seekers out there. And not all of those job hunters have a perfect financial record.

That used to be a cause for concern, with many reports that employers were increasingly relying on credit checks to make hiring decisions. However, a new report from the Society for Human Resource Management shows that most employers aren’t doing any sort of credit background check on prospective employees.


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The study, which was conducted previously in 2010 and 2004, saw the highest percentage of employers (53%) stating that they did not use a credit background check, up from 39% in 2004 and 40% in 2010.

The reasoning behind prospective employee credit checks has also changed, showing a shift toward employers using the information as a way to gauge trustworthiness, rather than as a way to prevent fraud or limit legal liability for negligent hiring. Of survey respondents, 19% cited assessing trustworthiness as the primary reason for conducting checks, the only category that saw a rise from 2010 to 2012. All other reasons saw a decline in the same period.

If you’re wondering what employers are focusing on in these credit checks, the biggest red flag is accounts in debt collection, with current outstanding judgements and a high debt-to-income ratio also red flags. Employers largely ignore foreclosures, medical debt and student debt in their hiring decisions, however.

Another interesting finding from the study showed that 58% of credit background checks happen after a contingent job offer has been made, compared to 33% after an interview but before an offer is made.

The easiest way to know if you have problems in your credit history that would bother possible employers is to pull your Credit Report Card, which can tell you what parts of your credit report are strongest and weakest so you can fix it.

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