Will a low credit score hurt my job chances?

Gerri Willis answers questions readers like you have e-mailed to us.

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By Gerri Willis, CNN

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Question 1. I have been looking for a job for seven months. I got an offer for the perfect job. But my credit score is in the high 500s. Will this hurt my chances of getting the job? Should I explain this to HR in advance? Janet, Georgia

Don't say a word.

Your credit score won't matter because employers are not allowed to use credit scores as part of employment screening. But, they are allowed to look at your credit reports according to Deanna Templeton of Credit.com.

Employers must tell you if they'll be peeking into your report before they actually do it. Plus, they are not allowed to use that information as the sole reason to disqualify you for a job.

However, if the employer is going to review your credit report then it might not be a bad idea to be able to explain the circumstances behind the collections and any receipts you've got that prove you've been paying them off.

If your job includes you handling money or sensitive financial information then your credit is a bigger deal than if you are not. There's no one answer to whether or not to bring it up beforehand. Feel them out and if you believe it will improve your chances then bring it up says Templeton.

Question 2. If you have a credit card that is closed and a current credit card, both with balances, which should you pay off first? Dee

Both balances have to go.

So, figure out which will benefit you the most. Check the interest rates on both cards. You'll want to funnel more of your payment money toward the card that has the higher interest rate.

You'll want to pay as much as you can over the minimum. Doubling your payment will help you pay off this debt much faster.

Question 3. I have been looking at going back to school to work on an advanced degree. Are there any help or loans I should be looking into for graduate school? Robert

Graduate students are eligible for the Federal Stafford Loan and Grad PLUS loan says Mark Kantrowitz of finaid.org. And some schools may offer Perkins Loans - these are low-interest government loans.

There are also some private fellowship programs, which you can find by searching free online databases like FastWeb.com.

If you are pursuing an MBA, some employers may provide some financial assistance in exchange for a commitment to work for the company after you graduate, typically a one year commitment for each year of support.  To top of page

Gerri's Mailbox: Got questions about your money? We want to hear them! Send an e-mail,we'll answer questions on CNN, Headline News and CNNMoney.com.
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