Give Me Credit

As I return to the workforce from my self-imposed sabbatical, I am faced with all the laborious work of applying and interviewing for positions I am interested in. This is rarely a fun process for the job seeker, but if you have held more than a few positions in your career, it is a known burden and one you have likely gotten good at.

Of course, the search starts with an updated resumé. Your resumé is extremely important because it must capture the attention of an employer who is likely to be reviewing a ton of resumés for the same position. It must stand out on its own and sell you in absentia. And what employers are looking for in a resumé has changed over the years. In my early years, your resumé needed to be detailed and extensive. Employers wanted as much information as they could get in order to best pick the potential candidates for an interview. But things have changed. Now your resumé needs to be short and sweet. Most experts suggest your resumé be no more than two pages long. This can be tricky when you have a variety of skills developed over a thirty-year career. It helps if you are interested in a specific position or industry. Then you can leave out any experience that does not apply to that position. If you are open and qualified for several positions, you may need to develop more than one resumé, each highlighting your experience or skill set applicable to each position or industry. There are many online tools to assist you in developing your resumés and your cover letter.

That done, with a great resumé or resumés in hand, you are ready to begin applying to employers. I am dating myself here, but in the good old days, that meant reading the local want ads and mailing your resumé and cover letter to prospective employers. In our modern times, this has changed completely. Gone is the antiquated idea of sending a piece of paper through the mail or reading the want ads in print. Everything can be done digitally now. With the advent of job search websites, it is a simpler task to quickly find and apply to positions you are specifically interested in. And most every employer will be expecting you to apply online and remit a digital copy of your resumé as an attachment. This has been a boon to job seekers and employers. It offers the job seeker a much quicker and organized way to apply for a position. For employers it offers a chance to ask additional questions or even require some testing in order to prove your skill set and narrow the field of prospective employees.

Having successfully navigated the application process, you may be offered the opportunity for a personal interview. This most often is still done in person, but I have been interviewed by phone and online before, so even this part of the process has become capable of being done digitally. But if your interview is in person, there is some tried and true advice regarding interviews that still apply. This is the only opportunity you will likely have to sell yourself and is probably the make or break of receiving a job offer. You should dress for success. That doesn’t mean your best jeans and t-shirt. That means your Sunday best. I have never attended an interview in anything less than a suit. It didn’t matter what the position was or what the dress code may be. First impressions are everything at this point. I can’t remember ever being told that I was not being considered because I over-dressed for my interview. But the antithesis of that is more common than you think. You should perform due diligence in researching the company and the position you are applying for. This knowledge will not only show the prospective employer your interest but will also allow you to shape the answers to any interview questions to what you believe are the needs and culture of their company. You should also have developed a few questions to ask about the position, benefits, or corporate culture, in case you are given the opportunity to ask. Again, this shows an employer that you have done your homework. Most of all, relax and be yourself. Do not let your confidence come across as cocky but avoid appearing unsure as to what your abilities are and how they can benefit the employer.

If your well-written resumé and your personal interview are met with success, there may still be a few hurdles to getting the offer of employment you are seeking. Most companies do background checks, skills testing, drug screening, and possibly a medical physical, among others. You should be aware of these and well prepared for all of them. In all these, honesty trumps record or performance. As an example, most companies can get past your DUI arrest from eight years ago but won’t get past you lying about it on your application.

The other thing that many employers are interested in is new to me and leaves me in a bit of a quandary. Many employers are now interested in your credit score. I have no problem with this as I have worked hard to have excellent credit, but I do not understand how it is applicable to performing a task. I am not borrowing money from the company, in fact most pay periods are slightly in arrears to the work you have already performed (commonly a week or two). In a way, they are borrowing my labor and I must rely on their record of paying debt to insure I receive my appropriate compensation. I should be interested in their credit score. When renting a home, buying a car, or borrowing money, I fully understand the interest in my credit score. But what does my credit score have to do with anything if I have a proven track record of attendance, integrity, and performance with other employers? I just don’t understand this, and although it is not an issue for me personally, my lack of understanding still drives me a little batty. I know that debt is a huge problem for many American families and individuals, but a low credit score is not always an indicator of being a bad steward of your finances. Many circumstances, like medical bills or unforeseen events, can put good people in a bad light when viewed only by their credit score. To me it seems like, as a nation, we are including this in the employment process as a direct way to force people to deal with debt. But if their credit score keeps them from an honest income, what chance of fixing their credit do they have?

I am hoping that one of my readers can help me to understand this better and will offer some insight in their comments. I hate being confused about the whys of something.

9 Responses to “Give Me Credit”
  1. Jim Borden says:

    nice post, Brad. Things have certainly changed since I started looking for jobs 40 years ago. And I agree that honesty trumps everything, both in looking for a job, and in life. As for the credit score issue, I agree, it is a little strange. One possible reason may be that a company may believe that a person with a low credit score is a greater risk for committing fraud. I have no data to back this up, but that might be the thought process.

  2. I’ve wondered this as well. I’ve always thought maybe it was to show your level of responsibility?

    • Brad Osborne says:

      That may be part of it too. Although work ethic is not always reflected in a credit score, it may be the only other confirmable measure an employer has. Thanks for adding to the conversation!

  3. Great post. I’m also in the unfortunate position of looking for work after being on short term disability for some time. Best of luck to you and fingers crossed for me please! It always makes me nervous.

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