When it comes to getting a job, bad credit can make the hiring process difficult at times. But would it stop you from getting a government job? The answer depends on the type of government job you are applying for and the policies of the state or federal government that is doing the hiring.
It is true that some government jobs require a credit check as part of the hiring process. In general, if you are seeking a job in law enforcement, the military or other sensitive positions you could be asked to provide a credit report. Since the government has an interest in maintaining the public’s trust they may want to look over the finances of potential employees to make sure they are not a risk to the government or the public.
However, most government jobs do not require a credit check. In fact, in many cases you may actually be no worse off if you have bad credit. In particular, government jobs that focus on social work and aid to others such as welfare caseworkers may be less likely to demand a credit check since your financial history is often irrelevant for that type of job.
It is also important to note that a few US states such as Illinois and California have rules that prohibit the use of credit reports for government employment. This means that you are not required to provide a credit report for the job and your credit history will not be taken into consideration for hiring and job promotion purposes. It is important to noe however that this may not apply to federal positions in these states.
If you are in the military or applying for a job in the federal government you will probably be asked to provide a credit report. The Federal Hiring Process Handbook states that credit history can be part of the assessment of an individual’s qualifications if they are applying for certain positions such as in law enforcement or security. A poor credit score may not necessarily disqualify you but it may cause the hiring committee to look more closely at your background.
Ultimately, whether bad credit will stop you from getting a government job depends on the type of job and the policies of the state or federal government. If you are applying for a job that does not require a credit check then your credit score should not be a concern. However, for certain sensitive positions it is possible that a credit check will be part of the hiring process. In such cases it is important to be honest and explain your bad credit and any steps you are taking to improve it. Having good references and a solid work history can also help an employer overlook your credit report.
Quick Credit Tune Up Tips
If you think that a credit check will in fact be a part of your employment screening, here are a few tips to get things in shape quickly.
Request a free copy of your credit report.
The first step towards improving your credit is to get a clear picture of what is currently on your credit report. You are entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax). Make sure you request each report individually to get a full picture of your credit history.
Check for incorrect information.
Once you have your credit reports it’s time to check for errors. Even minor mistakes can have a profound effect on your credit. Examples of potential errors to look for include incorrect personal information, unpaid accounts that have been paid off, accounts you don’t recognize and any other inaccuracies.
Dispute the errors.
If you have found errors on your credit report the best way to handle them is to dispute them. You should write a letter to each of the credit bureaus that includes the details of the mistakes. Be sure to include supporting documentation such as receipts, loan statements or cancelled checks.
Stay under your credit limit.
The amount of debt you carry in relation to your total credit limit is known as your credit utilization ratio. This makes up a large portion of your credit score so it is important to keep it low. Try to keep your utilization ratio below 30%.