Own up to bad credit when job hunting

Job application on clipboard

Don't be surprised if potential employers ask permission to review your credit reports.

About 60% of companies now say they review job applicants' credit histories when they fill at least some positions.

Although studies suggest there's little correlation between credit histories and job performance, many companies worry that someone who doesn't pay their bills may not be a responsible or trustworthy worker.

Refusing such a request suggests that you have something to hide and probably will result in your application being rejected, much as when you refuse a drug test.

That's why anyone in the job market needs to know exactly what's in the records of all three major credit reporting agencies. (Here's how to get free copies of your credit reports.)

If they contain unflattering information that will hurt your chances of being hired, it's important to tell your side of the story before the employer draws its own conclusions.

If you're asked to sign the waiver during an interview, take the opportunity to explain why there are unpaid debts, a foreclosure or bankruptcy on your reports.

If you get the waiver in the mail, send it back with a letter that provides some context for what happened.

Many financial problems are caused by a personal crisis that almost anyone can understand, such as a layoff, divorce, illness or even identity theft.

Even if you have to blame embarrassing bills on bad judgment and overspending, it's important to acknowledge the mistake and what you've learned from it.

Here are some other smart moves for landing a job despite bad credit.

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