I recently heard from Arianna, one of my readers who has been waiting for what seems like forever to finally get a job offer. And now after several great interviews and even better feedback, she’s finally in the home stretch…they’re ready to make an offer. All she has to do is wait just a little longer until they finish the background check. But she’s nervous about her poor credit history.
Even though the job interview process went remarkably well (we know not all do) and it looks like her continued determination (and patience) in finding the right job is about to pay off, Arianna’s worried that her poor credit score will be the reason they don’t make an offer. Here are her words:
I have a low credit score due to a bad divorce that left me with 1 of 2 houses going into foreclosure. It has not been foreclosed on as of yet but my score is around 610. In my new job, I’ll have budget responsibilities and I am concerned they may second guess me after seeing that. Ronnie Ann, I had to choose between being a single mom that feeds her kids or keeps a house. I chose feeding my family. Will that kill the deal for me or will they give me opportunity to explain should it raise concerns? People I know are giving me conflicting opinions. What do you think?
When I read this it broke my heart…especially knowing this is something all too many folks are going through right now. Poor credit history is becoming more and more common – and not always because someone has been intentionally irresponsible. There are countless stories nowadays with similarly agonizing choices. Since when did credit scores become the all-powerful Oz – pulling all the strings behind the curtain? There are so many contributing factors (health, divorce, identity theft, one bad mortgage decision) that may unfairly leave a very responsible, job-worthy person marked by a low score – ironically unable to get the very job that will help pull them out of the hole. And sometimes they don’t even get the chance to explain
While there’s no way to know for sure how heavily credit scores weigh in this particular company’s hiring process, I do know each company has its own policy. For some, 610 would be just fine – especially if they see Arianna’s choices as anything but irresponsible. But for others, it could be a deal breaker – especially when fiscal responsibility is part of the the job itself.
Luckily Arianna has a few things on her side:
- She has great experience that matches what the company is looking for
- She has a work history that shows responsibility
- She sailed through the hiring process, leaving lots of good feelings that can help weight the decision in her favor
- She is working with a recruiter who knows her story and can help make sure her credit score doesn’t sink the offer
Will her low credit score keep them from making an offer?
Unfortunately, there’s no way to know for sure until she finds out. I’ve been reading some articles on the subject, and there certainly are stories where it appeared the credit score was the reason, but it’s hard to know if it was the deciding factor or if it only added to the decision. There are also plenty of stories where the employer was interested enough in a candidate to fairly consider whether or not the credit score truly means they shouldn’t make the offer.
While I can’t give her THE answer, if I were Arianna I’d stop worrying about – or even listening to – all the conflicting opinions since it isn’t helping and won’t change the outcome one way or another. At this point, I’d just set my mind on seeing myself in that job. Maybe a nice extra handwritten note to her main contact(s) at the company (focusing on her interest and not her poor credit history) – although if she’s working with a recruiter, explaining all to her recruiter and asking for her help may be her best bet. Unless the recruiter has other candidates up against Arianna, she very much wants this offer to go through too!
If I had to guess what will happen, my gut tells me that since the company really seems to like Arianna (the rest of what she wrote me leads me to feel there is a strong connection), they will most likely at least give her and/or the recruiter a chance to explain if her poor credit score is indeed a sticking point.
Should I check my credit score if I’m starting a job search?
And for anyone else…to help make sure your credits score does NOT keep you from getting an offer (sometimes we don’t even know there’s a credit score landmine waiting for us), Mel Otero in her article (see below) suggests you be proactive, honest, and positive:
In summary, do your homework and obtain a copy of your credit report, resolve any errors, take steps to improve the score and be honest. With honesty and a positive attitude, a prospective employer may be willing to give you the opportunity to prove yourself worthy of the job.
Good luck, Arianna!
Please add your thoughts and advice for Arianna. I know all of us are hoping to hear some good news from her soon!
Some articles about job search and credit scores:
Credit Scores and Job Offers by Tory Johnson
How Your Credit Score Can Affect Your Job Search by Mel Otero
About the author…
Ronnie Ann, founder of Work Coach Cafe, bases her real-world advice on her many years as an organizational consultant where she helped interview and hire people, added to a certificate from NYU in Career Planning & Development and her own adventures as a serial job seeker. She can also be found on her new blog, Career Nook and on Google+.