The job market nationwide has recovered considerably in the last few years but still has a ways to go to get back to historical norms. Nonetheless, if you've been out of work for a while, or have just graduated from college, you might now be going on more job interviews than you have in the recent past. One thing that has certainly changed about the process, and for which you will have to be very prepared, is that your credit history will be open for scrutiny.
Polls have shown that more than half of all employers nationwide now include a person's credit standing as part of their normal hiring practices, meaning that applicants will likely have to submit to a credit check, depending upon how far along they get into the interview process. This, of course, means that many people who may be looking for a job will have to look into the ways in which they can clear up their credit standings as a means of making themselves more enticing applicants.
What are the simplest ways to do this?
When you're trying to clean up credit mistakes you've made in the past as quickly as possible, such as between the time when you send out a job application and actually go in for the interview, the two best methods for doing so are relatively simple and self-explanatory.
The first way to do it is to make sure you've put all the late payments you might have made over time well behind you. The farther back any such issues are in your credit history, the better off you will be with regard to your credit standing. In fact, this is the single largest factor that goes into making up your score, comprising 35 percent.
The second smart way to improve your credit score relatively quickly is to focus on paying down your outstanding balances as quickly as you can. The amount you owe versus the combined value of your credit limits makes up another 30 percent of your score. Generally, the best way to keep your credit as clean as possible in this regard is to owe just 30 percent of your limits. The more you exceed that level, the lower your score will be. Therefore, if you're carrying debts of $5,000 on cards with limits totaling $10,000, you'll need to pay back an additional $2,000 to get down to the most acceptable level. However, even if you can't get all the way there, the closer you can actually push yourself toward that level will certainly serve to improve your score.
Other ways you might be able to preserve your score is to avoid closing any accounts you might have paid off in full, and also avoid taking on any new cards or other accounts in the relatively near future, as both can have less pronounced negative effects on your standing overall.
Is there a way around this?
Fortunately for some people who have been unemployed for some time, there are a number of states nationwide in which the practice of running a credit check on a job applicant is illegal. The reason for this is that many lawmakers and consumer advocates alike, not to mention those who have been out of work for at least some part of the last few years, have noted that such practices may be unfair, particularly to applicants who have been without a job for some time. Many may only be having financial difficulties specifically because of their prolonged unemployment. Thus, their having been denied a job for which they were otherwise qualified because of credit issues may only serve to create a vicious cycle in which a person has poor credit because they can't get a job and can't get a job because they have poor credit.
Of course, most states do not have such protections in place, so you'll have to check to make sure yours will offer you this kind of protection. If not, you may have to simply grin and bear that additional burden when you go looking for a job. Fortunately, taking the time to fix credit mistakes that have gone unattended for a while may help to put you back into a better position financially, as well as with regard to your ability to land a job to which you've applied.
It might also be helpful, before sending out any resumes, to order copies of your credit reports on your own, so that you can see exactly where you stand. By doing so, you may be able to spot any potentially unfair markings which could have an adverse effect on your scores. If any exist, you might want to work with a credit repair law firm, which may help to hurry along the process of clearing it up.