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Could Bad Credit Prevent You From Getting a Job?

Maurie Backman, The Motley Fool

There are different reasons why your credit may not be in the best of shape. Maybe you fell behind on some payments, and your score took a hit as a result. Or maybe you're carrying a ton of debt and are working on paying it off.

You're probably aware that having bad credit could make it difficult, if not impossible, to get approved for a mortgage, rent an apartment, or score a decent rate on an auto loan. But believe it or not, in some cases, having bad credit could compromise your ability to get a job.

Why your credit matters

You might think that your credit history has nothing to do with your ability to perform well at a job, and in many cases, you'd be correct. But having poor credit generally ties into being somewhat financially irresponsible, so it's easy to see why some employers would be interested in that facet of your life. This especially holds true if you're applying for a job that requires you to manage money. After all, if you've done a poor job in the past of keeping tabs on your own spending and expenses, to the point where you've racked up debt, then how can you be trusted to manage a company's money?

Woman staring at laptop with sad expression

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

On the other hand, if you're applying for a job that has nothing to do with money or finances, your personal credit history may not be an issue, especially if it's not something your prospective employer chooses to research. In fact, of the 72% of employers that conduct background checks on employees, only 29% of those actually check credit reports, according to CareerBuilder. Still, it's a good idea to review your credit report (which you can obtain once a year for free from each of the three major credit bureaus) and make sure it doesn't contain errors. The last thing you want is a mistake on your credit record to cost you a job.

Another thing to keep in mind is that while employers are allowed to check applicants' credit reports, they can't check actual credit scores. But if your credit history is littered with late or missed payments, the fact that that number is kept under wraps may not make much of a difference.

Proving yourself trustworthy

As mentioned earlier, having an unfavorable credit history is mostly problematic when you're applying for roles that require you to manage money. Therefore, you can overcome that black mark by highlighting your successful money management track record in a professional setting.

If you're called in for an interview, point out that your diligence saved your last company $5,000 in recouped service fees, or that you implemented an accounts payable system that improved cash flow. Better yet, put those things on your resume, too. Just because you may have struggled to manage your personal finances in the past doesn't mean you're ill equipped to work with money on a whole, so the more achievements you talk up in this regard, the greater your chances of getting hired for a money management role, even if your credit record is less than stellar.

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