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Know How Good Your Candidate’s Credit Is? You Should

by | Jul 22, 2010 | Recruiter Training, Top Echelon Blog

It’s bad enough that many companies are taking the stance that they will no longer consider unemployed job seekers for their open positions.  Now it appears as though a growing number of them are using credit checks more frequently when deciding which job seekers to hire and which to not.

According to this article on (“Job Seekers’ Latest Hurdle: Credit Checks”), more than half of employers are using credit checks when filling at least some of their openings.  Furthermore, the article stated that a survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) indicated that the number stands at 60%.  It was 13% in 1996 and 35% in 2003.  Clearly, this is a trend.

Of course, if you’re an unemployed job seeker, you don’t have a job.  And if you don’t have a job, it might be difficult for you to pay your bills, especially if you’ve been out of work for any appreciable length of time.  On top of that, there was a gap in unemployment benefits for millions of Americans recently (they ran out and were just recently extended).  That makes paying the bills even more difficult.

Talk about being painted into a corner.  Unemployed job seekers can’t pay the bills because they can’t get a job, and they can’t get a job because they can’t pay the bills.

And are there good, quality candidates among these job seekers?  Of course there are.  Some high-quality job seekers are caught between the proverbial “rock and a hard place,” especially if they’ve earned a substantial wage in the past.  There are a lot of job seekers who are hearing right now that they’re “overqualified” for the positions for which they’re applying.  In many instances, that might be code for, “We’re not willing to pay you the wage to which you’re accustomed.”

Of course, there are some job seekers who are the true victims of circumstance (another point made in the article).  After all, not everybody lost their job because of poor performance, and not everybody can’t pay their bills because they’re dead-beats or slackers.  Okay, I understand the argument that a job seeker’s ability to not get their bills in order might raise a red flag to employers about the person’s ability to carry out their work duties… but shouldn’t that be the case only in instances where the person’s duties revolve around handling money or finances?  Apparently, company officials believe that this should be a consideration with non-finance-related positions, as well.

(It should be noted that employers can’t access credit scores or account numbers with their credit check.  They can only get information such as accounts in collection and debt levels.  However, for some job seekers, that much information has been enough to deny them an offer.)

What has been your experience with your clients, job seekers, and credit checks?  Have you ever lost a potential placement because your candidate’s credit wasn’t up to par (at least according to your client)?  Have you lost more than one?  Would you say that this practice has become more prevalent in recent months?  Does it depend upon the level of the position being filled, or anything else, for that matter?

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