Don't Speak Too Soon About Your Credit
By Judi Perkins
In addition to drug testing and often fingerprinting, companies sometimes require credit checks. And with the extreme number of people applying for jobs, companies have implemented these checks to indicate a candidate's character.
For many who have been unemployed, a credit check strikes fear in their hearts. What if the company rescinds the job offer? It seems like a "catch-22" - you can't repair your credit without a job, and you can't get a job without good credit. Let's factor in some psychology to make the credit check issue virtually non-existent and remove the fear from the entire equation.
Moving Toward What We Value
Human nature is to rationalize what we want. The more something is of value, the more we exclude anything that might impede our ability to obtain it. Applying this to the hiring situation, it means that a job seeker, about to receive an offer, has value to the company. Consequently, the candidate's bad credit becomes relatively unimportant.
By contrast, when you confess your low credit score in your cover letter, you're guaranteed not to hear from the company. Even if you wait to admit it until your first interview, you're still screening yourself out. When you confess this early in the game, you're not getting points for honesty; you're shooting yourself in the foot. Early in the process, the company is still looking for reasons eliminate candidates and you haven't built up enough value - yet.
Timing Is Important
Most people don't like surprises, certainly not companies about to extend an offer. Combining the relative degree of value with the effect of being surprised, the solution becomes much easier: tell them about your credit, but not until they're about to extend an offer and, consequently, perform the credit check. You now have value to them, and you've removed the surprise. The result? The whole matter is brushed aside.
Look for Signs of Offer
When an offer is imminent, there are phrases that will clue you in. In the final stages of the hiring process, interviewers who want to make you an offer tend to smile a lot and say positive statements that join you both together. Or they request references. Failing that, they'll make you an offer and expect you to take a few days to consider it. Now is the time to bring it up.
Don't Make a Big Deal of It
What you say and how you say it influences how the information is received. In other words, the bigger the deal you make of it, the more attention they'll give it. When you share the information with a smile, and in an informative, but off-handed way, you're communicating that it's no big deal.
Bad credit and bankruptcy are usually accompanied by mitigating circumstances such as lengthy unemployment, an irresponsible spouse and/or divorce proceedings. We're all human. Companies understand this because they're composed of humans. So instead of losing sleep, remember that by the time the credit check happens, they're more concerned about getting you on board.