A slew of economic data indicate a recovery is looming, as consumer spending and manufacturing output and compensation increase. Major companies have announced hiring plans, including 12,000 from Starwood Hotels, 1,200 from Ford Motor Company and 600 from CarMax. However, with hundreds of thousands of workers in competition for jobs, job seekers will need every advantage to impress potential employers.
Hiring managers receive thousands of resumes for open positions. With the talent pool so large, employers use any method possible to weed out potential candidates. These range from credit checks to drug and health screenings. Some use these as character references; other methods indicate whether the candidate will be a potential liability.
It may seem controversial, as one’s credit score and health generally have little to do with most job functions. However, with the sheer number of job seekers applying, employers can afford to be picky.
According to a 2006 Society for Human Resource Management poll, 43 percent of employers conducted credit checks on potential employees, up from 25 percent in 1998. While employers may legally conduct credit checks on potential hires, under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, companies must secure the candidates consent to do so. Further, if an employer decides not to hire an applicant because of information gleaned from the report, that employer must divulge this to the candidate.
Job seekers certainly do not need to discuss their credit during the interview process; however, they should take care to know everything listed on these reports. If the decision comes down to two equally qualified candidates, the employer may take the person with the better credit. Knowing where you stand will help you combat that decision, whether through logical explanations or examples of how you are the better choice despite what the credit check says.
In addition to credit checks, due to proposed health care legislation and rising costs to employers, some organizations are immediately eliminating candidates with unhealthy habits. Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga, TN will no longer hire new employees who use any kind of tobacco products, on or off duty. In addition to their usual drug screenings, hires will also be tested for nicotine. The company cited employee well-being and the health of patients as the primary reason.
This practice is nothing new. Medical benefits administration company Weyco and Scotts Miracle Grow companies stopped hiring smokers in 2006. Weyco fired four workers who opted out of their mandatory nicotine screening. In 2005, Wal-Mart’s executive vice president of benefits distributed an internal memo discussing ways to hire and retain healthier workers, according to the New York Times. Through education benefits, the company hoped to draw younger, presumably healthier employees.
There has been a trend for years to cultivate a healthier workforce. Only recently does candidate health seem to be a consideration in hiring practices.