Dear J.T. & Dale: I recently lost my job after being there a year. Prior to that job, I’d been unemployed for two years, went through my savings, and eventually filed for bankruptcy. How negatively do employers view an applicant who has a bankruptcy on his or her credit report? Does bankruptcy affect getting a job offer for qualified applicants? What can I do to make employers see I am not a bad, lazy or irresponsible person? — Michael
Dale: OK, it’s true there are some employers who care about credit ratings. So what? (I’m shrugging here.) I’ve never seen any statistics on the subject, but let’s say that 20 percent of employers say that a bankruptcy bounces you out of contention. What does that mean for your search? Yes, that’s right — you have to focus on the other 80 percent and forget the 20. Practice shrugging.
J.T.: Still, you might be able to convert some of those who do care. Here’s what I suggest: Get through the first round of interviewing; then, if you’re invited for a second interview, at the end of that interview, say something like this: “I have huge respect for you and the company and really want this job, so I feel it’s important that you hear this from me.” Then you own up to the bankruptcy.
You might say: “I can’t say how hard it is to share this, but I ran into tough times and a bankruptcy was unavoidable. It aught me some important lessons, but now I’d like very much to put it behind me by landing this position and building my credit again.” It takes a brave professional with a lot of character to say those things. Employers will love you had the guts to do so and you respect them enough to tell them.
Dale: Part of me wants to agree — after all, everyone loves a good confession, and it would humanize you, Michael. However, in a time when bankruptcy is common, I hate to have you go into a second interview worrying about when and how to bring it up. It’s better if you just forget about it. (What might help you forget is to put “famous people with bankruptcies” into Google and see you are in the company of Walt Disney, Larry King, Willie Nelson and many, many others.)
J.T.: But why risk having the bankruptcy be a surprise to the employer? Here’s a compromise: Forget about the bankruptcy until the second interview is over; then, at the end, when you ask about next steps, if they mention a background check, bring up the bankruptcy — you might even mention all those famous people who’ve shared the experience.
© 2012 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.
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