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Can Your Credit Score Affect Your Employment?

Having bad credit can make it difficult to get approved for a loan or a credit card — but in some cases, it can also prevent you from getting a job.

According to a 2018 National Association of Professional Background Screeners study, 47 percent of employers run credit or financial background checks on candidates. Whether or not you’ll be one of those candidates depends on the type of job you’re applying for.

Why Employers Care About Your Credit History

Before we go any further, it’s important to know prospective employers cannot see your credit score. Instead, they can check your credit report, which is what your score is based on.

But why do employers care about your credit report at all? Simply put, certain aspects of the report can be indicative of habits or behaviors they don’t want in the workplace.

For example, if you have several delinquent credit accounts, that may signal you’re unorganized or don’t keep your word. If you have excessive debt or several credit cards with high balances, it can suggest you’re desperate and might be more likely to steal from or defraud the company.

“The belief is that putting [a candidate] in a position with access to large amounts of cash or in any other kind of financial role could provide them the means to resolve their financial difficulties the wrong way,” says Adam Calli, a human resources consultant with Arc Human Capital.

This may sound like the company is judging you without getting to know you, but it’s not cheap to hire and onboard a new employee. Employers must try to mitigate their risks as much as possible.

Which Jobs Are More Likely to Require Credit Checks?

Individual employers can choose to run a credit check on any prospective employee they want, so long as they’re operating in a jurisdiction in which doing so is legal (more on that in a moment).

In general, however, you’re more likely to face a credit check if you’re applying for a job where you’ll be dealing with money or need some form of security clearance. Jobs in financial services, as well as federal and state government jobs including law enforcement, are most likely to require credit checks.

“[Credit checks are] also a concern when the employee would have access to customer finances or financial information,” Calli says.

Depending on the job, an employer can choose to check the credit information of both candidates and existing employees, which means your credit can affect a position you already have.

Your Rights

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is the primary federal law governing employee background checks, including credit checks.

“There are also many states that have their own laws addressing it,” says Calli. “Employers hiring employees in those states — even employees who work remote in that state when the company is located elsewhere — must comply with both the federal and state statutes.”

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, only 11 states limit how employers can use credit information. Some states have banned the practice altogether, as has New York City. Check with your state’s Department of Labor for specific rules.

Just because employers can run credit checks, that doesn’t mean you don’t have rights. The Federal Trade Commission outlines the rules employers need to follow, but here are some key things to know:

  1. Before checking your credit report, an employer must notify you of its intention and get your written permission to do so.
  2. If an employer plans to reject you based partially or completely on information in your credit report, it must notify you before making the decision and give you a reasonable amount of time to respond and plead your case, typically 3-5 business days.
  3. If the employer goes through with its decision to reject your application, it must provide you with an adverse action notice containing the name of the credit reporting agency it used to get your report and explaining your right to a free copy of your report from that agency within 60 days.

How to Prevent Your Credit From Affecting Your Employment

There is no minimum credit score requirement to get a job in finance or with the government. Instead, it’s important to make sure you develop and practice good credit habits.

If you’re behind on payments with one or more accounts, get current as quickly as possible. Also, pay off any debts you may have in collections, and make payments on time going forward. Pay down credit card debt and keep your credit card balances low. Avoid applying for multiple credit accounts in a short period.

If you have some major negative items on your credit report, such as a bankruptcy or foreclosure, there is not much you can do about the matter except wait for it to fall off your report naturally. If you can prove that you use credit responsibly now, that may be enough to assuage an employer’s concerns.

James Garvey is CEO of Self Lender.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

No Ghosting: What to Do After Accepting the Job Offer

“Ghosting” used to be reserved for the world of dating. Now, it has become quite common in the workplace.

Ghosting is when one person — in this case, a candidate or employee — ignores all the calls, texts, emails, and other messages sent by another person — in this case, an employer. In the workplace, ghosting often happens when a candidate accepts an offer but then decides they don’t want to work for the company. The candidate stops responding to messages from the employer and never shows up for their first day of work. Ghosting also occurs when an existing employee quits a job without telling anyone. They simply stop showing up to work and, once again, don’t respond to any of their employer’s messages.

According to USA Today, employers report that “20-50 percent of job applicants and workers are pulling no-shows in some form.” You do not want to lose your job offer because your future employer thinks you may be one of those ghosters.

Communication is key to establishing trust and letting your future employer know you truly want the job and want to be part of the team. Here are three steps you can follow to show future employers you are not going to become a ghost if they hire you:

1. Confirm Receipt

Confirm receipt of all messages a company sends to you during the recruiting process. Do not leave the hiring manager, recruiter, HR rep, or anyone else involved wondering whether you received their message. If they do not hear from you in a timely manner, they may assume you are no longer interested in employment. A lack of response can even lead to a rescinded job offer, if you’ve made it that far in the process.

2. Complete Paperwork on Time

Complete all new-hire documents promptly. I recommend completing paperwork the same day you receive it, or the very next morning at the latest. Act with a sense of urgency, even if one has not been implied on the employer’s part. You are already being judged on how you complete tasks, even if you haven’t started the job officially yet. Make a good first impression.

Remember your employer has deadlines, too. There is someone waiting for that paperwork so they can do their job of processing you into the company. Don’t make anyone’s job more difficult or delay your hiring date because you did not return paperwork on time.

3. Follow the Company and Its Employees on LinkedIn

As you meet and communicate with people who work for your new employer, send them a connection request on LinkedIn. In your request, thank the person for their help. Be as specific as possible in outlining exactly how they helped you during the hiring process. Let them know you look forward to joining the team.

See if you can learn more about the other employees by reading their LinkedIn profiles. Make note of crucial information you may want to use to build rapport with people, and pay attention to your new teammates’ areas of expertise for future reference. Learn as much as you can about the company and its employees before you show up for your first day on the job.

Remember: People know people. And people talk.

About seven years ago, I had a client who ghosted an employer who had sent her a plane ticket to fly out for an interview. She did it not only once, but twice — and then she ghosted me, too.

Several years later, I was at a job fair talking with a contingency recruiter. Guess what? I found out that my client had ghosted her, too, in the past! Of course, this was before the term “ghosted” had been adopted. We just called it “rude, bizarre behavior.”

In today’s climate, where 41 percent of workers think it is okay to ghost employers, do not leave your employer wondering if you might turn out to be a ghost yourself. Be proactive. Let your professionalism shine. Assure your employer they selected the right person for the job by responding to emails and phone calls and returning paperwork in a timely manner.

Jaynine Howard is a military veteran whose work as a career strategist and reinvention specialist has been recognized by professional organizations throughout the nation.

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Apply the Genius Habit to Your Job Search

Being able to navigate a job search seamlessly is imperative in the changing landscape of work. While a job search can be intimidating, you need to get used to the idea because you will have to go through the job interview process many times over the course of your career. Gone are the days when most people stayed with the same company — or even the same industry — for their entire careers.

To find the right new job, you need to become a job search ninja. A job search ninja is fearless about the prospect of navigating a change and confident in their value. If it’s clear that things aren’t ideal in your current role, start the job search with excitement and a plan. The less fear you have about changing jobs, the more powerful you will be in terms of guiding your career toward your vision and in the direction you want to go.

I’ve met many people who avoid the job search entirely. They stay in jobs they don’t like because they are overwhelmed at the prospect of searching for new ones. They simply don’t know where to begin and don’t understand the process, especially regarding the ever-evolving ways that technology and social media have changed recruiting. These people are unprepared to face the rejections that invariably come or the arduousness of identifying the right targets. They also lack clarity on how to speak about themselves, what value they bring, and what they are looking for.

Once you know your “Zone of Genius,” there will be infinite possibilities for you to explore, but sometimes the infinite possibilities are what make finding a job so daunting. The job search is an area in which you can use your genius and your purpose to narrow down your search. Start with organizations or types of work that are meaningful to you. Is there an opportunity for you to impact directly another person who is aligned with your purpose? Is the company delivering or creating a product or helping people in a way that’s connected to your purpose? If not, keep looking.

Once you have identified areas of work or companies that may be a good fit for your purpose, look at the specific jobs and potential roles that could use your genius. Use the kind of thinking and problem-solving that you’re best at and compare your genius to the job opportunities. When you land the interview, you can find out more information about how often you would be able to use your genius on a day-to-day basis. If the job has no opportunity for you to use your genius, it’s not the right job for you.

Lastly, try to get a sense of the culture at every company you interview with. A sense of connection with the person you would be reporting to is a great place to start in terms of figuring out whether you would be a good fit for the team. Many people take jobs they think will look good on their resumes, or they have waited so long to start looking for new opportunities that they are burned out on their current jobs and take the first offers that come along. However, if you are so desperate to leave your old job that you don’t take the time to vet properly the new company and manager, you will likely end up right back where you started: unhappy and looking for a way out.

Have faith that the right opportunity will come your way, and until then, dig into the process and do a lot of work. I have clients who come to me in despair saying they left their previous positions and can’t find jobs. Then, I find out they’re only reaching out to two or three companies a week when they should be targeting 10, 15, or 20. If you’re not working, a job search should be your full-time job. If you’re still employed, expect to do less job hunting each day and recognize the process will take more time.

If your job search is taking longer than you expected, get curious. There are probably areas of the interview process in which you can improve, such as how you’re presenting yourself or how thoroughly you’re interviewing a potential employer. Use your search to build grit, and never give up. There are endless opportunities. If you embrace the process as an adventure rather than a chore and become skilled at speaking about yourself, you will end up finding opportunities that you never thought existed.

Excerpted from The Genius Habit: How One Habit Can Radically Change Your Work and Your Life (Sourcebooks 2019) by Laura Garnett.

Laura Garnett is a performance strategist, TEDx speaker, founder of Garnett Consulting, and the creator of the Genius Habit.

My New Pet Peeve: Getting Personal on LinkedIn

Sometimes, you see something you just can’t unsee it. Unfortunately, that seems to be happening to me more and more on LinkedIn.

What was once a very professional website is now host to some very unprofessional things, and it’s frankly shocking. I’ve tried to push it out of my mind, but I just can’t any longer.

I’ve seen an influx of cartoon profile photos, as well as overly casual profile photos of people in baseball caps and other nonprofessional attire. I’m seeing a lot more profile photos with children and pets, too. Heck, I’ve even seen ultrasound photos and posts announcing the births of new babies!

It’s not just bad photos. There are job titles like “Not Channing Tatum’s Dad” and “Defender of the Universe.” Go ahead, do a quick search of your own. You’ll find at least 64 professionals on LinkedIn who are apparently in charge of defending our universe!

At first glance, these things may seem like harmless fun. In fact, you could argue this kind of behavior makes a person more relatable, allowing your LinkedIn connections to learn more about you as a multifaceted human being.

But this is the problem: Not everybody can post photos with their babies and cats on LinkedIn and be taken seriously in the professional world. Not everyone can post a cartoon profile photo and expect to get a new job.

I’ll be honest: The people primarily responsible for these posts and pictures are young male executives in their 30s and 40s. I’m 100 percent certain they have the best of intentions. They want to be funny and down to earth. They want to showcase their families, their lives, and their personalities.

Hear me out: What I’m describing may not seem so bad to you, but understand that certain people don’t have the luxury of revealing all this information about themselves if they want to be employed.

For example, I could never post a photo with children and expect to land a job interview. In fact, I have been directly asked in job interviews whether or not I was planning to have children soon. It’s not right — and it’s certainly illegal — but this question is sometimes used to screen out certain candidates. In fact, employers often use personal information about candidates to filter them from the running. Again: It’s not right, but it definitely happens.

To the young, successful men out there: I respect what you’re trying to do. I respect that you want to be relatable. I love that you’re showing me your family is an important part of your life. I know you are creating these fun profiles with the best intentions.

But we can’t all share those things and be taken seriously. Some of us don’t have the privilege, simply because of our demographics. In light of that fact, I think it’s best we keep LinkedIn as the professional site it was meant to be. When we become friends, we can connect on Facebook and learn all about your kids, your spouse, and your awesome dogs.

A version of this article originally appeared on Copeland Coaching.

Angela Copeland is a career coach and CEO at Copeland Coaching.

How to Maintain a Successful Side Hustle Without Running Afoul of the Law

Whether to pursue their passions, gain experience for a career change, or simply make ends meet, more and more Americans are running side hustles these days, including a little more than half of all millennials. They’re making pretty good money doing so, earning an average of $700 a month.

But the side-hustle grind isn’t all sunshine and roses. It has its downsides, too — like burnout, stress, overwork, and even legal issues.

We don’t mean to alarm you, but when you embark on a side hustle, you may accidentally wind up on the wrong side of the law, if you’re not careful. See, as a side-hustler, you are essentially running your own business — and business is complicated. Complying with all appropriate tax rules and regulations is probably the most common concern, but you also need to worry about your contract with your day job. There may be some clauses in it that restrict your side hustle activity, and ignoring those clauses could land you in real hot water.

To learn more about the legal risks of side hustles and how to protect yourself, check out this new infographic from Lexington Law:

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How to Prove Your Leadership Skills on Your Resume

It is usually fairly easy to showcase your qualifications and hard skills on a resume, but demonstrating your soft skills can be quite a challenge. This is especially true in the case of leadership skills: It’s easy to say you have them, but it’s much more difficult to prove you do.

Demonstrating your leadership skills is essential to landing many roles, especially those with supervisory or managerial duties. Here are five ways to craft a more convincing portrait of your leadership skills on your resume:

1. Explain the Structures of Your Previous Teams

Recruiters will not know the organizational structures of your previous employers or how your previous positions fit into them. A great way to quickly demonstrate your leadership skills is to explain where your position fell in the company hierarchy and the type of people you led in that position. You can make this information quantifiable by writing about the number of people on your team, the number of people in total, and how your work fed into the business.

Example: “Managed a team of 6 analysts, reporting directly to the managing director.”

2. Reference Your Delegation Skills

A good leader knows when to delegate and how to get the most out of their team members. Of course, when describing your delegation skills, be sure not to take attention away from your integral role in the project. Instead, your stories of delegation should showcase the fact that you were being an effective leader, not simply passing work off onto your subordinates. Keywords such as “empower,” “appoint,” “mobilize,” “engage,” and “connect” can show your delegation skills without taking the focus away from your own role as a leader.

Example: “Mobilized a team of 3 project managers to deliver 5 milestones, with a weekly reporting process for updates and issues.”

3. Talk About Leading From the Front

Sure, having leadership skills means being able to encourage your team members to give their all, but the best leaders make their own contributions as much as they delegate. Showcasing your ability to lead by example is a great way to provide evidence of your leadership skills.

Discuss past projects where you changed a process or encouraged others by the work you did yourself. Some keywords you may want to use in this context include “guide,” “coach,” “enable,” and “stimulate.”

Example: “Led a team with a sales revenue of $3 million, with myself personally contributing $550,000.”

4. Detail Your Team’s Achievements

An effective leader is one who can develop an effective team and inspire it to reach its goals. In light of this fact, detailing your team’s key achievements can be a good way to present your leadership skills in action. Structure mentions of your team achievements with first-person pronouns (“I” and “we”), and highlight what you did and what your team was able to achieve because of your actions.

Example: “By providing effective motivation and incentivization, I was able to increase team productivity by 15 percent.”

5. Describe How You Played a Key Role in Your Team’s Effectiveness

While showcasing your team’s achievements can help demonstrate your leadership skills, you have to be careful to emphasize your role in creating such an effective team. You don’t want recruiters to assume you were simply lucky enough to walk onto a highly effective team that already existed. It is important that your resume’s descriptions of your team keep the focus on your role in making it as effective as it was.

Example: “Rescued failing project that was behind schedule, ultimately allowing us to deliver it six weeks ahead of completion.”

If there is one key takeaway in all of this, it would be the following: When discussing your leadership skills in your resume, it is essential to keep the focus on yourself, your input, and your results. It can be difficult not to approach your achievements with a team-oriented mindset, but remember: Recruiters are hiring you, not your team.

Andrew Fennell is the founder of UK-based CV-writing advice website StandOut CV.