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by P.S. Jones

Whether you learned as a young child from your parents or you didn’t get the memo until you were grown and on your own, eventually we all realize just how much a personal credit score matters. But, did you know that credit doesn’t just affect your ability to rent a home, buy a car or open a credit card account? It also affects your ability to get a job in some cases. Many companies hiring anyone who works with sensitive information, handles large amounts of money or has access to extensive company resources require a decent credit background.

Your credit report is part of some employers’ due diligence background check, especially positions that have allow you extensive unsupervised responsibilities. The idea is that those with bad credit are having money problems, which makes them more likely to mishandle money or private information. Some organizations see it as an accountability issue because not paying your bills is a sign you don’t keep your commitments. Others just see it as evidence you’re bad with finances. While a damaged credit report won’t always exclude you from the job, you will certainly have to provide an understandable reason for your negative entries. And if it’s between you and another candidate with a higher credit score, the other guy is probably getting the position.

You won’t be asked to fill out a credit disclosure form for every job you apply for but the higher you climb up the career ladder, the more likely you will. If you’ve got a few blemishes on your report, consider being proactive about them. Get a copy of your credit report from each of the three reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Once you know what’s on your report, you can take steps to remove the negative marks by paying the debt off or entering into a payment plan with the creditor. And remember that most negative accounts stop showing up on your report seven years after your last payment on the account but bankruptcies take ten years to roll off.

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