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Can I Get a Job With Bad Credit History?

Sandra MacGregor

Oct 06, 2021 7 min read

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Can I Get a Job with Bad Credit History
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    Though many Canadians know that having a good credit history can massively affect whether or not they get a loan or credit card, few realize that a poor credit history can actually prevent them from getting a job. A prospective employer can choose to conduct credit checks on potential employees at their discretion, though they need your consent to check your credit. Employers may want to check your credit to assess how well you meet financial obligations.

    Bad credit history can impact your chances of landing a new job. If you have bad credit history, a prospective employer might reject your job application if they feel that your credit history reflects your organizational skills. If you have a history of missing bill payments, employers may be hesitant to hire you, as they might think you can’t handle certain responsibilities on time. Read on to learn more about how bad credit reports can affect a job search and what you can do to mitigate bad credit and make yourself a more appealing job candidate. 

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    Can My Credit History Be Obtained By An Employer?

    As if a job search wasn’t stressful enough, employers are well within their rights in Canada to conduct credit checks on employees. Note that a prospective employer requires your explicit consent before running a credit check. 

    While your future boss can ask you if it’s ok if they check out your credit information, you can always try to say no. Unfortunately, your right to say no depends on what province or territory you live in. In Canada, an employer’s right to access your info varies by region. Some regions only require that an employer notify you that they will be running a credit check. Other jurisdictions require a potential boss to get your signed permission to access your credit reports.

    Why Do Some Employers Check Credit?

    Employers conduct credit checks to review and assess a candidate’s credit history. Employers decide to look into a job candidate’s credit history for a variety of reasons. An employer may simply want to confirm a person’s identity, their age (for jobs that require a minimum age, such as working at a liquor store) and where they live. Employers usually, however, do credit checks to confirm if a hire is suitable for employment and will be a good fit for a particular workplace. 

    In general, there tends to be a sense that a person’s credit report is a reflection of how responsible, organized and trustworthy they are. Whether or not that belief is accurate, many employers think that by knowing a person’s credit history they gain insight into how capable a person is at staying on top of responsibilities and therefore can better decide whether or not a person will be a reliable and accountable employee. 

    What Do Employers See When They Check Your Credit?

    When employers gain access to your credit reports from Canada’s two major credit bureaus (Equifax and TransUnion) they can see a variety of information regarding both your personal and financial information. Personal information would include things like your date of birth, marital status, where you live and even previous employers. Credit reports also contain very detailed financial information that goes all the way back to when you got your very first credit card. Financial information an employer may have access to includes:

    • A list of all of your credit cards and loans, lines of credit and how much you owe on each and whether you’ve gone over your credit limit

    • Any missed, late or non sufficient fund payments you’ve made

    • Whether you’ve declared bankruptcy or whether a credit account has ever been sent to a collection agency

    • Other people or lenders who requested to see your credit report 

    • Bank accounts that have been closed “for cause,” such as committing fraud  

    • Closed accounts and fraud alerts

    How Long Does Information Stay on a Credit Report?

    If you’ve had a shaky credit history, it’s good to know how long negative information stays on your credit report. The good news is that, generally, if a negative credit incident happened over six years ago, it’s likely no longer on your credit report.

    Credit card and loan late payments 

    Late payments stay on your credit report (even if you eventually make the payment) for six years after the date of the overdue payment. This is one of the main reasons why you should always aim to make your bill payments on-time. Even one missed payment can linger on your credit report for six years.

    Charged-off accounts: 

    Debt that is sent to a collection agency (known as a charged-off account) will remain on your report up to six years from the date you made your final payment. Note that if you pay off the debt before six years has elapsed it will still stay on your report but will have less of a negative impact on your credit score.

    Bankruptcy: 

    First bankruptcies stay on your report for six years after the discharge date, or 7 years after the date filed if you don’t discharge the debt. If you file a second bankruptcy, both bankruptcies stay on your report for 14 years.

    Consumer proposals: 

    Consumer proposals can stay on your credit report for three years after you paid off your debts, or six years from the filing date if you don’t pay off your debt within six years.

    Can You Dispute Inaccurate Information on a Credit Report?

    Mistakes happen. Luckily, there are ways you can dispute errors or inaccuracies on your credit report. Equifax and TransUnion each have their own free dispute process, so check their websites for details. Basically, you’ll just need to register a dispute online, by phone or mail, send in the listed documents and include any evidence that supports your claim that there’s been an error. On average, it can take five to 20 days for the dispute to be resolved.  

    Which Type of Jobs Require a Credit History Inquiry?

    While there are no hard and fast rules about what kind of jobs may require credit checks, in general, jobs in the financial sector (like banking and accounting — anywhere where an employee would have access to large amounts of money) and security jobs may require mandatory credit checks. Basically, you can expect that any workplace that relies on an employee’s fiduciary duty (a duty to protect someone’s best interests, like a lawyer or accountant) to their clients will require a credit check. 

    In the financial and security industry, a credit history check might be more likely because it could also reveal whether you are having severe financial difficulties and would thus potentially be at risk of workplace theft.

    What Credit Score is Too Low For a Job?

    There is no one-size-fits-all standard for what credit score would be too low for a job in Canada because it very much depends on the specific employer and the job duties. However, it’s best to aim for a score of approximately 700 or better just to be safe. In Canada, a score of 713 and above qualifies as “Good.” 

    Should I Mention Previous Financial Difficulties in My Interview?

    It can be extremely hard to talk about past financial difficulties in an interview as it’s a very personal topic. However, if you really feel that it’s likely your potential employer will do a credit check (or, indeed, may ask you for permission to get your credit report in the interview) it may be smart to get ahead of the problem by being honest about your credit history. It’s really up to you to decide what feels right based on things like your rapport with your potential boss, the likelihood of a credit check and how badly you want the job.

    How to Mitigate the Impact of Bad Credit History in a Job Application?

    Of course, while many people do indeed view a high credit score as a badge of honour and as an accurate reflection of how dependable they are, it’s certainly not always the case that a bad credit history means that you’re not responsible and won’t make an ideal employee. Even the most financially responsible people have likely experienced a time in life where, through no fault of their own, illness or a family situation made it difficult to keep up with payments and their credit score took a hit. The important thing is to show your prospective employer what you’ve done to mitigate questionable credit. Here’s some tips to lessen the impact of a bad credit history during a job search:

    • Check your credit report at least once a year to ensure you’re aware of any areas that need work and to spot any potential errors so you can fix them as quickly as possible. 

    • Educate yourself on the factors that make up a credit score and do what you can to repair your credit report

    • When discussing your credit history with a potential employer, detail the steps you took to rectify your credit history and describe why it was a good learning opportunity (that way your future boss is less liable to focus on your mistakes)

    • Emphasize why you're uniquely qualified for the position

    • Confidently describe why your credit history won’t have no impact on your work performance

    Sandra MacGregor
    Sandra MacGregor
     | 
    Personal Finance Writer
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    Sandra MacGregor is a professional writer who specializes in topics such as finance, travel, health, and lifestyle. Her work has been featured in the Toronto Star, the Montreal Gazette, and the New York Times. She is a regular contributor to the Borrowell blog.

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