The process of finding a new job started for me in January. I began interviewing for a position at a local bank branch with which I had done personal business for five years. I had multiple products with the branch, including my first bank account at age 16. After a lengthy three-month interview process across multiple branches and different positions, I got a call.
I was ecstatic. I had received my first-ever full-time job offer, and it was from a company that I had wanted to work with for years. Everything was going well — my job interviews were amazing, and everyone I met seemed to genuinely enjoy their work. I was excited to get started.
Trying to Get a Job With Bad Credit
I knew there was some pre-hire stuff to take care of, but nothing that I thought would interfere with the job offer. There were the typical tax forms, NDAs, and background and credit checks. I knew my background was clean, but the credit check scared me a bit. I knew I had bad credit, but I also thought that the check might just be a formality.
Maybe it wouldn’t actually matter. Maybe they just wanted to make sure I didn’t have any bankruptcies or public records. On top of that, 80 percent of hiring managers surveyed by the Society of Human Resources have taken on a candidate despite a poor financial record. All of this led me to believe the odds were in my favor — but boy, was I wrong.
I received a call one day, a week or two after officially accepting the offer. A nice corporate woman from HR asked to speak with me. I obliged and was taken through one of the worst experiences I can recall: a full breakdown of my credit history.
Line by line, she read every account on my credit report, what the balance was, and asked if I had paid it. For all accounts, the answer was no.
I could feel the job slipping from my fingers with each line of the credit report that she read off to me. But I didn’t lose all hope.
I was given a chance to share my reasoning as to why I hadn’t been able to pay any of my balances owed. I drafted a letter stating my hardships, attached evidence backing up my claims, and sent it in.
A week and a half later, I received the call I had been dreading: the decision. After a lengthy review process, the bank had decided to rescind the job offer. I was told that I could either apply for a position that didn’t require credit verification or wait six months and try again for this position.
Legal Advice for Job Seekers With Bad Credit
While it may seem discriminatory to rescind an employment offer due to bad credit, it’s a common practice with certain employers.
“In some states, employers are prohibited from using credit as a factor in hiring decisions,” says Colorado-based attorney Clark Dray. “Exceptions exist for banks and financial institutions, law enforcement agencies, and when the credit information is substantially related to the employee’s current or potential job, and is disclosed in writing to the employee.”
As such, if you’re applying to a job in the above-listed sectors, there’s not much legal recourse you can take if you lose a job opportunity due to bad credit. But if you work in a different industry and live in one of the following states or cities, you should be in the clear:
- New York City
- Washington, DC
- Washington State
The Road to Recovery
For a few hours, I hit what was one of the lowest points I’d experienced in months. I didn’t know where to go from there. I didn’t know what I was going to do or how I was going to be able to pay my increasing bills. I stopped, took a few deep breaths, and decided not to waste any more energy on the issue.
I knew I was in the process of rebuilding my credit, and I knew that it was only going to take time. This wasn’t something I could fix overnight. It was something I would have to work on and try again.
Over the next few months, I will continue reaching out to creditors to negotiate balances in an attempt to reduce my overall debt load and improve my credit score. I do plan on re-applying for that job in six months’ time, but I’m not sure that my credit will fully recover by then.
All I can do is establish a positive payment history going forward and show progress on old accounts. Any positive progress at all is something that I can use to my advantage during the reapplication process. Hopefully, that will increase my chances of landing that position again.
Additional reporting by Connor Beckett McInerney.