A lot of people would be surprised to learn that their credit report can impede their professional ambitions. If you were on the job hunt, would you break into a cold sweat the second a phone screener or HR rep mentioned the words “credit check”? A lot of people would, and unfortunately, a lot of employers have decided that credit checks and a thorough vetting of candidates’ credit reports are integral to the hiring process. The worst part? It ends up costing people jobs.
While it’s understandable, in some situations, to want to vet a candidate’s financial prowess and background, in most cases, a credit check is an exercise in futility. In the same way that background checks can turn up bad or wrong information about a job seeker, a bad credit report can all but disqualify an otherwise perfect candidate — even if the position has little or nothing to do with creditworthiness.
Your credit report and getting hired
Attaining and keeping a good-looking credit report isn’t easy, but there are methods and strategies you can use to accomplish it. The problem is, there are things that can happen that can all but destroy it in short order. A catastrophic injury, divorce, or any other number of things can impact your finances, and you can have little control over the outcomes in the short-term. When that becomes problematic is when it ends up costing you career opportunities down the line.
What jobs and career paths specifically do a credit check, or look for an unblemished credit report? Here are a handful.
1. Financial professionals
You can’t blame a bank or financial company for digging into the financial background and credit report of applicants. Especially when it comes to high-ranking or leadership positions, these organizations want people who understand finances and credit, and have displayed responsible behavior and decision-making. From bankers to brokers, if you’re applying for a job in the financial industry, expect a credit check to be a part of the process.
2. Government workers
Not all government jobs require a credit check, but there are many that do — both at the state and federal level. For security and other purposes, government workers are often required to jump through a lot of hoops to get hired, and having a good credit report is merely one of them. If you seem likely to steal or take a bribe (as may be reflected by your credit history), a government job may not be for you — or so the thinking goes.
Like those working in the financial industry, a job in accounting is probably going to require some sort of rooting around in your credit history. Accountants work with all types of organizations, and management needs to feel they can be trusted with the numbers. A credit check can help put them at ease when filling out the accounting ranks.
Surprisingly enough, there are some credit requirements for military service. If you plan to enlist or advance up the ranks in any of the branches — Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard — you can plan on going through a credit check at some point. Each branch has different rules regarding credit histories and enlistment, but just know that your finances will be scrutinized if you visit a recruitment office.
Not all security jobs require a credit check, but some do. For the same reason that many other jobs do a check, security firms want to ensure a candidate is trustworthy and reliable, and won’t take bribes or be tempted to engage in criminal behavior. The TSA famously checks the credit of its applicants, as a prime example.
If you plan on running for office, you’d better have your finances in order. Tax returns and personal wealth often come under scrutiny on the campaign trail, and if you can’t account for past decisions, you’re in for a world of hurt. Marco Rubio was hurt by this during the 2016 presidential race, as a recent example.