What do you do if you think your credit rating might not be stellar?
First, know what you’re working with. Some people are job hunting with bad credit…and they don’t even know it. Is there an old medical bill out there that’s tarnishing your rating? Do you have too many late payments or too many open lines of credit? Get a free copy of your credit report and review it carefully for errors and potential red flags.
Clean up any outstanding issues. If there’s a mistake on your report, tackle that immediately. If the fact is you’ve struggled with financial issues, take steps to turn things around where you can. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau offers sound advice.
Be open and honest with potential employers. You’ll know if a potential employer is pulling your credit report—you have to sign a release to allow them access. That’s the time to describe what they might find on your report and provide any background or explanation that might mitigate the damage. Thanks to the recent recession, hiring managers are more accepting of some financial challenges.
Keep in mind that your credit report also will include your job history. Be sure that matches what you’ve included on your application and resume.
Job hunting with bad credit certainly isn’t easy. And it’s particularly challenging when those with poor credit got there because they needed a job. But it’s not an insurmountable obstacle. Consider working as a freelancer or contractor while you repair your credit rating. Or seek out smaller companies where you have an opportunity to develop a relationship and trust with the owner and senior members of the staff. Ensure that your skills and abilities outweigh past financial mishaps and keep your affairs in top-notch shape going forward—it’ll pay off not just in your job search, but in all areas of your life!