Today, a high credit score matters more than ever. A spotless financial record can help you rent or buy a home, lock down low insurance rates, and may even help you to pass a pre-employment background check. Because it’s perfectly legal in many states for a company to request your credit report before offering you a job, savvy job seekers know how important  it is to prep your credit before embarking on a job hunt.

Here are three steps you can take to prep your credit before applying for your next gig:

1. Request a copy of your own credit report.

Information is power! Before prospective employers see your report, order your own copy and read over it thoroughly. Thankfully, all Americans have the right to order a copy of their own credit reports each year at no cost, by using or by calling 877-322-8228. You can request a copy of your credit file from each of the three major consumer credit bureaus; Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

2. Correct inaccuracies.

The Federal Trade Commission has found that one in four consumers have found errors in their credit report significant enough to affect their score.1 So when you receive your credit reports, the first thing that you will want to do is to read through them to see if all of the information is correct. And if you find information that’s not accurate, the law allows you to contact the company that issues the report to have it corrected. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you can send a dispute in writing to the credit bureaus, along with supporting documentation, and they are required to investigate the items in question, usually within 30 days. You should also send a letter to the company that provided the inaccurate information, and include copies of documentation supporting your claim.2

3. Explain negative information.

In many cases, you might find information on a credit report that while negative, is also accurate. In these cases, it can help to offer an explanation of any circumstances that may have caused the problem. The FCRA requires that credit bureaus allow you to submit a 100 word letter that will be included in your report. For example, if you were hospitalized and it caused you to miss a payment, or if a spouse failed to make payments to a joint account during a divorce, you could possibly use your statement to explain it. While these statements may not help to remove the negative information from your credit report, it could help give employers the proper context with which to consider your credit report.3

When you take the time to examine your own credit report, make corrections, and provide you own statement, you can offer the best possible impression to any employer that decides to dig deeper into your financial background.


Legal Disclaimer: This site is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for professional advice. The material on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice and does not indicate the availability of any Discover product or service. It does not guarantee that Discover offers or endorses a product or service. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.