Answer: It depends on the position.
A recently laid off job seeker who had been gainfully employed with the same company for over 25 years asked, "How important is my credit rating in the job search?" The job seeker was under the impression that as soon as an employment application was submitted online, a credit check would ensue.
I assured the job seeker that written consent would be needed to run an employment credit check in the state of California. Additionally, an Employer Credit Report does not include a credit score, account numbers, year of birth or age (source - ESR).
As of January 2012, AB 22 "prohibits most employers and prospective employers in California – with the exception of certain financial institutions – from obtaining consumer credit reports for employment purposes unless the position of the person for whom the report is sought" meets certain criteria (source).
Since there are multiple credit reporting bureaus and errors do exist on many credit reports (up to 80% as of this report in 2009), it is advisable for job seekers to request a free a copy of their credit report annually and review it carefully. This is especially true if job seekers anticipate applying for jobs with agencies that have a more exhaustive hiring process (government, federal, financial sectors, etc.) If errors are found on the credit report, job seekers should dispute them as soon as possible.
Job seekers in states outside of California concerned about credit reporting and employment screening should reference The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FTC) for more information.
For More on Credit and Job Searching, see:
Bankrate: Bad Credit and The Job Search
Credit Sesame: Dispelling the Myths
Maisha Cannon is a Senior Recruiter and Researcher committed to introducing employers to talent that will enhance and grow their businesses. Over the span of her 15 year career in Human Resources, Maisha has filled over 1,000 positions, and has coached hundreds of candidates on resume writing, interviewing skills, and career planning. She spends her free time blogging, engrossed in social media, and singing along to the thousands of songs in her iPod.
*The materials available within this blog are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.