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Credit Checks and W2s

08.12.09   |   Job Search & Career   |   Amanda Musto, Marketing Manager at Treeline Incorporated

In a market where national unemployment is around 9.4% and so many talented professionals out on the market, it's no wonder why it's a buyers market for potential employers.  Across the nation, job descriptions have become more specific, hiring managers are conducting harder interviews and they are becoming less forgiving on the flaws of potential employees.  It may seem like hiring companies are in a phenomenal position and they are being picky because they can, but the real reason that companies are scrutinizing new hires is because they can't afford to make a mistake.  Whether you like it or not, hiring the wrong candidate comes at a huge cost. 

Think about the time it takes and money it costs to ramp up a new hire.  A base salary is a liability and a mark on the "loss" column of the spreadsheet before it has the opportunity to be a "gain".  Therefore, employers are proceeding in this market with a "buyer beware" type of attitude, especially when it comes to sales professionals. We all know that sales professionals have a history of exaggerating or packaging things in a glamorous light, therefore, hiring managers have put practices in place that will bring the truth to the surface and ensure them that they are getting the best candidate possible.  Two of these tactics are credit checks and W2 requests.

Although both of these reports pertain to your financial history, they are requested for very different reasons.  Employers request credit checks to gain a better understanding of your personal history and your allocation on your own personal finances.  If you have a shaky credit history with a potential bankruptcy claim, why would an employer trust an expense account to you?  Also, if you run your own personal finances into the ground, what will you do with their business?  When it comes to sales, you're main objective is to make money for your company and ultimately, yourself.  So the best way an employer can get to know how you run a business is to look at your credit report.

W2s, on the other hand, are requested at the end of an interview process to ensure that employers aren't being taken to the cleaners by their potential employee.  At the end of the day, we all want to make as much money as possible and if we can get a nice base salary that will cushion all of our expenses, of course we'll take it.  However, a company asks you what you're currently making and what you need to make to ensure that they are getting their money's worth in a candidate.  One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a candidate is exaggerate your current base salary and W2.  Being a recruiter for several years, I have seen candidates grossly over exaggerate their wages in hopes that they'll land a job with a $20-40K raise on the base.  Not only did it bite them in the end and force them to lose an offer, it ruined their reputation with both the client and the recruiter (see Burning Bridges).  Let's face it, the best way to get a raise in pay is to prove to the employer that the juice is worth the squeeze.  If you tell them that you're currently making more than what is stated on your W2 you better pray they don't ask for documentation.  Once they see the report, they'll see that you blatantly lied to them and you'll lose the offer.  Lying is no way to start a relationship.  Raises are earned, not conned. 

So before you ruin your credit and then attempt to pay it off by requesting too much money on a base salary, think about what those implications can lead to.  This job market is hard enough, don't make it harder for yourself. 

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