Friday, May 27, 2016

Interviews 3 | Know Yourself

Nosce Te Ipsum - Know Thyself


This phrase primarily means to know your strengths and weaknesses.
Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought to. Romans 12:3
This common phrase doesn’t mean to put yourself down, as some religious folks would have you believe. Rather, it asks that you know who you are and who you aren’t. 

Know the gifting(s) God has placed inside of you and also what he hasn’t called you to. By doing so you are able to narrow down the position that fit you and those that do not.

Know your strengths

You have been given strengths and giftings by God. He has enabled you to be particularly good at certain things. If you know what those strengths are then you can boldly assert what they are and be confident in your answers.

If you are not sure what your strengths and giftings are, check out another article I wrote called "Discovery | Finding Your Place In God's Plan".

Maybe you are strong at something but not as strong as you want to say you are. Don’t be tempted to overstate your strengths. If you are hired into a position for stating you are stronger at something than you are it will be found out quickly.

Know your areas of opportunity


Humility isn’t about putting yourself down. It’s about knowing what you can and can’t do, and being honest about both.

You have areas that you are growing in.

  • There are things that you aren’t good at. Nobody is good at everything. 
  • There are things that you are good at, but you don't enjoy. That's important to know too.
  • Some areas you will be strong in at a future date, but you just aren’t there yet. 

If you know these areas of opportunity and are strategically honest about them you will either know to avoid certain positions, or you will be able to communicate how these areas are not dis-qualifiers to your new desired position.

Example: I talk a lot.
That makes me a GREAT writer and blogger. When I was given assignments to write 500 words about something, I didn’t struggle to get up to 500 words, I struggled to get back DOWN to 500 words and edit out the un-necessary. 
This meant that as a call center rep I often struggled with handle time. They wanted my average calls to come to 255 seconds or less. I was always pushing over 300-350, on a good day. After I left they actually raised the goal to 300, oh well…

Interviewers may ask what my weakness are (Areas of Opportunity). This isn't as common these days, but the question is still out there. Sell yourself by showing that you know your areas of opportunity, and you are actively working on them.

I could tell the interviewer that: I talk too much and can’t seem to figure out how to lower it… that doesn’t quite sell my opportunity.
OR
I could tell the interviewer that: I enjoy meeting new people and getting to know them. I am honestly interested in people and want their best interest. I also have a strong desire to have things done right and not half done. As a result I sometimes take longer on calls than my counterparts. I am actively working on finding ways to say less, not ask certain questions that open the conversation up or encourage long stories. I'm also working on asking more direct questions that allow me to build rapport and enjoy the interaction, without taking a long time to do it.
One highlights weakness and one highlights area of opportunity.


The important questions:


Answer these questions for yourself so that you can articulate it to the interviewer:

  • How am I the BEST fit for this position? 
  • How am I going to add value to this company, department, or team?

I am a great fit for this position because…
I am a great fit for this position because I have 4 years of background in banking related sales. I have sold in person and over the phone. I know my customers and ask great questions. I am not only able to meet their needs with the best products and services but I am able to uncover other needs they didn’t realize they had. 
Just the other day someone came in to order checks and I was able to uncover for her that her mortgage rate was 7% and current rates are in the low 4% range. She was hooked up with my mortgage partner and refinanced into a 4.32%. It dropped her monthly payment and will cut years off of her loan. She was ecstatic!

Homework Assignment:

  • List for yourself your top 3 areas of strength and top 3 areas of opportunity. 
  • Practice talking to yourself or a training partner about these 6 areas.



See Also:

Darrell Wolfe, Topos Consultant
Read more ...

Interviews 3 | Know Yourself

Nosce Te Ipsum - Know Thyself


This phrase primarily means to know your strengths and weaknesses.
Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought to. Romans 12:3
This common phrase doesn’t mean to put yourself down, as some religious folks would have you believe. Rather, it asks that you know who you are and who you aren’t. 

Know the gifting(s) God has placed inside of you and also what he hasn’t called you to. By doing so you are able to narrow down the position that fit you and those that do not.

Know your strengths

You have been given strengths and giftings by God. He has enabled you to be particularly good at certain things. If you know what those strengths are then you can boldly assert what they are and be confident in your answers.

If you are not sure what your strengths and giftings are, check out another article I wrote called "Discovery | Finding Your Place In God's Plan".

Maybe you are strong at something but not as strong as you want to say you are. Don’t be tempted to overstate your strengths. If you are hired into a position for stating you are stronger at something than you are it will be found out quickly.

Know your areas of opportunity


Humility isn’t about putting yourself down. It’s about knowing what you can and can’t do, and being honest about both.

You have areas that you are growing in.

  • There are things that you aren’t good at. Nobody is good at everything. 
  • There are things that you are good at, but you don't enjoy. That's important to know too.
  • Some areas you will be strong in at a future date, but you just aren’t there yet. 

If you know these areas of opportunity and are strategically honest about them you will either know to avoid certain positions, or you will be able to communicate how these areas are not dis-qualifiers to your new desired position.

Example: I talk a lot.
That makes me a GREAT writer and blogger. When I was given assignments to write 500 words about something, I didn’t struggle to get up to 500 words, I struggled to get back DOWN to 500 words and edit out the un-necessary. 
This meant that as a call center rep I often struggled with handle time. They wanted my average calls to come to 255 seconds or less. I was always pushing over 300-350, on a good day. After I left they actually raised the goal to 300, oh well…

Interviewers may ask what my weakness are (Areas of Opportunity). This isn't as common these days, but the question is still out there. Sell yourself by showing that you know your areas of opportunity, and you are actively working on them.

I could tell the interviewer that: I talk too much and can’t seem to figure out how to lower it… that doesn’t quite sell my opportunity.
OR
I could tell the interviewer that: I enjoy meeting new people and getting to know them. I am honestly interested in people and want their best interest. I also have a strong desire to have things done right and not half done. As a result I sometimes take longer on calls than my counterparts. I am actively working on finding ways to say less, not ask certain questions that open the conversation up or encourage long stories. I'm also working on asking more direct questions that allow me to build rapport and enjoy the interaction, without taking a long time to do it.
One highlights weakness and one highlights area of opportunity.


The important questions:


Answer these questions for yourself so that you can articulate it to the interviewer:

  • How am I the BEST fit for this position? 
  • How am I going to add value to this company, department, or team?

I am a great fit for this position because…
I am a great fit for this position because I have 4 years of background in banking related sales. I have sold in person and over the phone. I know my customers and ask great questions. I am not only able to meet their needs with the best products and services but I am able to uncover other needs they didn’t realize they had. 
Just the other day someone came in to order checks and I was able to uncover for her that her mortgage rate was 7% and current rates are in the low 4% range. She was hooked up with my mortgage partner and refinanced into a 4.32%. It dropped her monthly payment and will cut years off of her loan. She was ecstatic!

Homework Assignment:

  • List for yourself your top 3 areas of strength and top 3 areas of opportunity. 
  • Practice talking to yourself or a training partner about these 6 areas.



See Also:

Darrell Wolfe, Topos Consultant
Read more ...

Interviews 2 | Know the Job Description

Knowing the Position, Title, and Job Description are key

You must know the position for which you are applying.

Applying for a position and then declining it can begin to look bad for you if you do it over and over with the same company. You will look like a flake. 

Many times the employers don’t make this easy. They post job descriptions but not salary levels and you are left to fend for yourself asking: “Is this a fit for me?"

Where do you start?

Narrow Your Search

If you know what you are looking for in a job, then you will be able to weed through the countless job offers on the internet and in the newspaper more easily.

You can spend your time pushing for the jobs you really want and not wasting your time on interviews for positions you won’t enjoy.

Research

Take time to research the positions you apply for, before applying.

If you are not sure that you are a great fit, find out first (or at least develop an educated guess). There are so many tools on the internet now for understanding job descriptions and fields.

Take some time to research the Job Description. Look for key words, required, preferred skills, and job duties. Try to determine if you have these skills from another job. It's always important that you had the job title previously, just the skill.

For example, you may see a Job Description that requires 2 years compliance experience. You've never worked in the that job title, but have you had any duties that required you to be exposed to, in charge of, or relating to compliance to company rules and regulations. Every team lead has had to be aware of the regulations, and ensure their teams are in compliance.

Then tailor you resume to the job description. 


Put that experience in your resume, and talk to it in the interviews.

The resume will not only help you when you meet the recruiters and interviewers; but, it will help you get past the screeners. If your resume doesn't open the screeners door, your interview skills won't have a chance to be used.


Network

Get to know people within the field (in person or through social sites like Linked In).

Ask questions, people love to talk about themselves and what they do. Do you have any friends or contacts in that field, or better yet in that company? Ask questions. Introduce yourself to the managers at the company if possible.

If it’s a large company that has multiple offices don’t be afraid to just walk into one of the branches, even if it’s not the one you are thinking of working at, and introduce yourself to the manager, ask them if you could have a few minutes of their time.

Tell them that you are thinking of coming to work for the company and that you are interested in finding out more about the inner working and what it takes.

Ask Good Questions


  • What does the day in the life of an employee of XYZ look like? 
  • What attributes make a great employee in your field? 
  • What things do people often struggle with as they first come on board? 

Think through the places you’ve worked, what you liked and didn’t like. Ask questions that will help you understand if this is a place you want to work.

I realized recently that I prefer a company that follows a modern model for vacation, where all the hours are lumped into one box and you use them as you see fit.

I was quite put out upon working for a company that still separated personal vs vacation vs sick time and punished you for using sick time when they offered it and wouldn’t let you use it for anything else or pay you out if you didn’t use it. This felt to me very double minded. I chose to leave that company and go back to a company that had a more straight forward way of dealing with time off.

You may have things about your personality that won’t fit certain companies or departments within a company.

It would be best for you do know before you formally apply or interview that the company fits in your “Must Have’s” and “Must Not Haves‘”.


Details

After you have determined that the company and position fits you, learn details about the position. Learn the shop talk. Find out terms that are used within the industry or field.

The more you know about the position, and the more you know about how you can fit the position, the better. You should be able to personally relate the skills and personality traits you posses to the position.


See Also:

Darrell Wolfe, Topos Consultant
Read more ...

Interviews 2 | Know the Job Description

Knowing the Position, Title, and Job Description are key

You must know the position for which you are applying.

Applying for a position and then declining it can begin to look bad for you if you do it over and over with the same company. You will look like a flake. 

Many times the employers don’t make this easy. They post job descriptions but not salary levels and you are left to fend for yourself asking: “Is this a fit for me?"

Where do you start?

Narrow Your Search

If you know what you are looking for in a job, then you will be able to weed through the countless job offers on the internet and in the newspaper more easily.

You can spend your time pushing for the jobs you really want and not wasting your time on interviews for positions you won’t enjoy.

Research

Take time to research the positions you apply for, before applying.

If you are not sure that you are a great fit, find out first (or at least develop an educated guess). There are so many tools on the internet now for understanding job descriptions and fields.

Take some time to research the Job Description. Look for key words, required, preferred skills, and job duties. Try to determine if you have these skills from another job. It's always important that you had the job title previously, just the skill.

For example, you may see a Job Description that requires 2 years compliance experience. You've never worked in the that job title, but have you had any duties that required you to be exposed to, in charge of, or relating to compliance to company rules and regulations. Every team lead has had to be aware of the regulations, and ensure their teams are in compliance.

Then tailor you resume to the job description. 


Put that experience in your resume, and talk to it in the interviews.

The resume will not only help you when you meet the recruiters and interviewers; but, it will help you get past the screeners. If your resume doesn't open the screeners door, your interview skills won't have a chance to be used.


Network

Get to know people within the field (in person or through social sites like Linked In).

Ask questions, people love to talk about themselves and what they do. Do you have any friends or contacts in that field, or better yet in that company? Ask questions. Introduce yourself to the managers at the company if possible.

If it’s a large company that has multiple offices don’t be afraid to just walk into one of the branches, even if it’s not the one you are thinking of working at, and introduce yourself to the manager, ask them if you could have a few minutes of their time.

Tell them that you are thinking of coming to work for the company and that you are interested in finding out more about the inner working and what it takes.

Ask Good Questions


  • What does the day in the life of an employee of XYZ look like? 
  • What attributes make a great employee in your field? 
  • What things do people often struggle with as they first come on board? 

Think through the places you’ve worked, what you liked and didn’t like. Ask questions that will help you understand if this is a place you want to work.

I realized recently that I prefer a company that follows a modern model for vacation, where all the hours are lumped into one box and you use them as you see fit.

I was quite put out upon working for a company that still separated personal vs vacation vs sick time and punished you for using sick time when they offered it and wouldn’t let you use it for anything else or pay you out if you didn’t use it. This felt to me very double minded. I chose to leave that company and go back to a company that had a more straight forward way of dealing with time off.

You may have things about your personality that won’t fit certain companies or departments within a company.

It would be best for you do know before you formally apply or interview that the company fits in your “Must Have’s” and “Must Not Haves‘”.


Details

After you have determined that the company and position fits you, learn details about the position. Learn the shop talk. Find out terms that are used within the industry or field.

The more you know about the position, and the more you know about how you can fit the position, the better. You should be able to personally relate the skills and personality traits you posses to the position.


See Also:

Darrell Wolfe, Topos Consultant
Read more ...

Interviews 1 | Concrete and Specific

Concrete and Specific:

One of the key elements to mastering the interview process is knowing how to give Concrete and Specific Answers to every question that is asked.

Consider the following example:
The interviewer is asking the same questions to 15 different candidates. Marvin who is looking for a trainer asks one question that he is more interested in than all the rest: “Tell me about a time you worked with another worker who was under preforming?”
Then 14 candidates come in with answers that sound something like this:
” Once I worked with someone who was struggling in their sales stats. I gave her suggestions about how to profile for sales and ask open ended questions. She improved so dramatically within the two sessions we worked together that her supervisor emailed me a thank you note.”
Then candidate 15 comes in and is asked the same question with a very different answer:
“Last month, I worked with Rachel. She had worked four hours that day and only had one sale so far. Her position is to take incoming calls. The first thing I did was take some time to understand her struggle. I asked whether she was having more trouble identifying opportunities to sell or how to word them. She replied that both were equally troublesome to her. So I had her walk me through the call she had just gotten finished with. We reviewed the account together and I showed her the five places I always look on each call for clues. I also pointed out six sales possibilities that could have saved this customer money and time. We pulled up some previous calls and reviewed each account. I roll played with her to help her practice saying the information to me first, and help her tweak things to her style. Then we took some live calls together. The first set of calls I profiled with her and walked her through each account and what I saw and narrowed the best sale for that call. The next set of calls I had her walk me through each account. Then I sat back and let her work on her last set standing by to answer questions. Then I made a plan with her to check in at the end and see how she did. By the end of the day she had moved from a 2% sales rate, of sales per call with one sale, to a 15% sales rate with 9 sales. This was still below our goal, but much better than she had been doing. I checked in with her three times in the following 4 weeks and found she moved from a Month To Date of 12% to 19% to 23%. This is not a top performers data but well within our accepted range. I received a personal email from her supervisor thanking me for my work and letting me know that she was still preforming at the levels expected, and credited me with having provided her with the tools she needed.

Stand Out
Which of these answers would the interviewer see as identifying the candidate he is looking for? Of course the second. But the first is the type of answer that most people give. Or they will throw out five examples, all on which are at that basic surface level. 

The concrete and specific answer technique means:

  • You are giving specific answers. 
    • HOW did you help? 
    • WHICH open ended questions? 
    • WHICH employee, or if privacy is an issue give something. “I worked with someone from an my team.” 
    • WHEN did you do this?
    • What screens did you look at with team member? 
As much detail as you can without being a chatter box (talking too much). Stick to details that pertain to the questions. The color of Rachel’s shirt doesn’t matter, unless you specifically used that to “build rapport” with her. 

Details are important. Use details that highlight something you feel is something you did well in that situation that had a direct positive result.


You are giving concrete answers. 
  • “She had a low sales rate that day”, does not cut it. 
  • “She had a 2% sales rate that day with only one sale in her first four hours of her shift” is concrete. 

This approach nails down exactly what we are talking about here. It gives the interviewer, Marvin, a place to frame and understand the situation and relate it to situations either similar to ones he had, or similar to ones he might expect you’d be in.




See Also:

Darrell Wolfe, Topos Consultant
Read more ...

Interviews 1 | Concrete and Specific

Concrete and Specific:

One of the key elements to mastering the interview process is knowing how to give Concrete and Specific Answers to every question that is asked.

Consider the following example:
The interviewer is asking the same questions to 15 different candidates. Marvin who is looking for a trainer asks one question that he is more interested in than all the rest: “Tell me about a time you worked with another worker who was under preforming?”
Then 14 candidates come in with answers that sound something like this:
” Once I worked with someone who was struggling in their sales stats. I gave her suggestions about how to profile for sales and ask open ended questions. She improved so dramatically within the two sessions we worked together that her supervisor emailed me a thank you note.”
Then candidate 15 comes in and is asked the same question with a very different answer:
“Last month, I worked with Rachel. She had worked four hours that day and only had one sale so far. Her position is to take incoming calls. The first thing I did was take some time to understand her struggle. I asked whether she was having more trouble identifying opportunities to sell or how to word them. She replied that both were equally troublesome to her. So I had her walk me through the call she had just gotten finished with. We reviewed the account together and I showed her the five places I always look on each call for clues. I also pointed out six sales possibilities that could have saved this customer money and time. We pulled up some previous calls and reviewed each account. I roll played with her to help her practice saying the information to me first, and help her tweak things to her style. Then we took some live calls together. The first set of calls I profiled with her and walked her through each account and what I saw and narrowed the best sale for that call. The next set of calls I had her walk me through each account. Then I sat back and let her work on her last set standing by to answer questions. Then I made a plan with her to check in at the end and see how she did. By the end of the day she had moved from a 2% sales rate, of sales per call with one sale, to a 15% sales rate with 9 sales. This was still below our goal, but much better than she had been doing. I checked in with her three times in the following 4 weeks and found she moved from a Month To Date of 12% to 19% to 23%. This is not a top performers data but well within our accepted range. I received a personal email from her supervisor thanking me for my work and letting me know that she was still preforming at the levels expected, and credited me with having provided her with the tools she needed.

Stand Out
Which of these answers would the interviewer see as identifying the candidate he is looking for? Of course the second. But the first is the type of answer that most people give. Or they will throw out five examples, all on which are at that basic surface level. 

The concrete and specific answer technique means:

  • You are giving specific answers. 
    • HOW did you help? 
    • WHICH open ended questions? 
    • WHICH employee, or if privacy is an issue give something. “I worked with someone from an my team.” 
    • WHEN did you do this?
    • What screens did you look at with team member? 
As much detail as you can without being a chatter box (talking too much). Stick to details that pertain to the questions. The color of Rachel’s shirt doesn’t matter, unless you specifically used that to “build rapport” with her. 

Details are important. Use details that highlight something you feel is something you did well in that situation that had a direct positive result.


You are giving concrete answers. 
  • “She had a low sales rate that day”, does not cut it. 
  • “She had a 2% sales rate that day with only one sale in her first four hours of her shift” is concrete. 

This approach nails down exactly what we are talking about here. It gives the interviewer, Marvin, a place to frame and understand the situation and relate it to situations either similar to ones he had, or similar to ones he might expect you’d be in.




See Also:

Darrell Wolfe, Topos Consultant
Read more ...

Interviews | An Introduction


Interview Skills- An Introduction

Interviewing is one of the most important skills one can have in the workplace, especially if you are in a large corporation (where they've eliminated personal relationships as much as possible).

You cannot move in or up without passing the interview. Yet as important as it is, few people ever take the time to study material on the skills needed to master that process. They go in to an interview, answer the questions as best as they can and hope for the best. 

However, there IS a process. There is a technique to interviewing. It’s just as important as your resume’, skills, experience, and accomplishments.

The Right Fit

Even interviewing your very best or THE very best doesn’t mean you will get the position. You may be the very best salesman in the company and that may come out swimmingly in the interview. But the fact is the person is not JUST looking for someone who is great at their job. They will also be looking for someone who will make a good “Fit” for that particular position. 

For Example: 

Let's say the position is a supervisor working directly under a manager:
  • A manager who is one of the top sales performers in a company and has been since he was an entry level employee may not be all that interested that his second in command having sales skills above average. He’s already got that nailed. Rather, maybe he would be interested in someone with the skill to help him keep the team on task, and do paperwork, and understand procedures.
  • A manager who is friendly and outgoing but doesn’t know computers may need someone who has skills with Excel.
  • A manager who is good with data bases and numbers may need someone who can rally the troops and lift moral.
  • A manager who knows “Business” but may not know the specifics of this job because that manager was hired from outside may need someone who knows the nuts and bolts, because they've been here awhile.

There are several categories of skills required to obtain a good interview, some of the more important ones that we will explore are:
Read more ...

Interviews | An Introduction


Interview Skills- An Introduction

Interviewing is one of the most important skills one can have in the workplace, especially if you are in a large corporation (where they've eliminated personal relationships as much as possible).

You cannot move in or up without passing the interview. Yet as important as it is, few people ever take the time to study material on the skills needed to master that process. They go in to an interview, answer the questions as best as they can and hope for the best. 

However, there IS a process. There is a technique to interviewing. It’s just as important as your resume’, skills, experience, and accomplishments.

The Right Fit

Even interviewing your very best or THE very best doesn’t mean you will get the position. You may be the very best salesman in the company and that may come out swimmingly in the interview. But the fact is the person is not JUST looking for someone who is great at their job. They will also be looking for someone who will make a good “Fit” for that particular position. 

For Example: 

Let's say the position is a supervisor working directly under a manager:
  • A manager who is one of the top sales performers in a company and has been since he was an entry level employee may not be all that interested that his second in command having sales skills above average. He’s already got that nailed. Rather, maybe he would be interested in someone with the skill to help him keep the team on task, and do paperwork, and understand procedures.
  • A manager who is friendly and outgoing but doesn’t know computers may need someone who has skills with Excel.
  • A manager who is good with data bases and numbers may need someone who can rally the troops and lift moral.
  • A manager who knows “Business” but may not know the specifics of this job because that manager was hired from outside may need someone who knows the nuts and bolts, because they've been here awhile.

There are several categories of skills required to obtain a good interview, some of the more important ones that we will explore are:
Read more ...

Resume: God's or Yours?




What a cool idea for a "Resume Infographic" | By  Bart Claeys
What a cool idea for a "Resume Infographic" | By  Bart Claeys


What if your resume was more about God than you?

Do a search for "Resume" online and you'll find things like the "10 words that ruin a resume", "6 tips for writing an effective resume", or simply "How to make a resume".

While these are all fine and good, helpful even, there seems to be a missing link. There's one big thing that's not being said by the experts about resume's that needs to be said.

What is a resume?

Recently I was talking with a close friend who is a hiring manager.During the conversation he made a point that struck home with me. He said: "What do your qualifications, or those of the other interviewees, have to do with your getting hired? It's the Favor of God that's going to promote you in due time, not your qualifications."

WOAH! What a a great reminder! It's about God, not about me!

In addition, he noted how he has so often seen a resume embellished or enhanced in an attempt to sell "how great I am". He stated, that there is a dose of pride found in many resume's that just turns him off. However, my friend pointed out that you cannot blame the person entirely, we've created a culture that teaches this self promotion. The very act of creating a summary document of your past accomplishments, in an effort to convince someone to interview you for a position, lends itself to boasting and pride.


Wiki Defines Resume'

résumé (/ˈrɛzʊm/rez-u-may or /rɛzʊˈm/; less frequently /ˈrɛzjʊm/ or /rɛzjʊˈm/French: [ʁezyme]),[1] also spelled 'resumé' or 'resume',[2] is a document used by persons to present their backgrounds and skills. Résumés can be used for a variety of reasons, but most often they are used to secure new employment.[3] A typical résumé contains a summary of relevant job experience and education. The résumé is usually one of the first items, along with a cover letter and sometimes an application for employment, which a potential employer sees regarding the job seeker and is typically used to screen applicants, often followed by an interview. The résumé is comparable to a curriculum vitae (CV) in many countries. However, it is substantially shorter than a CV in English Canada, the U.S. and Australia.[4] In French, résumé means summary.

He went on to say that we get so focused on our education, experience, background, accomplishments, and all these things that are going to help us get ahead of the other guy as we compete for that one job... but what if there were another way of looking at the Job Market?

What if we turned the tables on the resume building? 

  • What if the resume was not a list of YOUR past accomplishments and achievements. 
  • What if it had nothing to do with how educated you are, your experience, your this, your that... 
  • What if your resume had nothing to do with you at all?

If you are a believer in Jesus, you should know that God has a specific and targeted plan for your life. God promotes you, not your background. God lifts one up, and puts another down. Humble yourself before God, and HE will lift you up, in due time.

As I look back over my life, I see a trail of jobs that I found searching diligently and then asked God to give me.

In most cases, God gave me what I asked for. I've never been without work, sometimes two jobs at once. However, each position seemed empty.

So I started looking for a new way to find a job. I started praying not for what I wanted, but for what HE wanted.

It was a paradigm shift in my job search.


I have talked about before, and probably will again, about all of the things God showed me during that season (which was just the start of this revelation for me), and I wrote an article about The Sweet Spot, which is at the intersection of your greatest skill and your greatest passion. He showed me to look to Him in my search, and ask Him about what I should be looking for.

It was within two months of posting that article that God led me to the job I have now. I don't want to call it "unexpected", because frankly I was learning how to build my expectation from as early as a year before, that "something would change", God would show me what I was doing wrong and I would look to Him and He would direct me into HIS plan.

That's not to say that my expectation was perfect, mature, or without doubt. In fact, I've struggled with doubt my entire life... but I was working on trying to put my faith, belief, and expectation aside, and rely on His Grace instead. I just kept pulling myself off of the fear and back to Him. I was so ridiculed with self doubt, that I almost didn't go to the interview for the job I have now. If it wasn't for the Holy Spirit, my wife, and my wonderful new boss... I wouldn't have gone. But that's another story.

Frankly... the job was unanticipated. Out of the blue (or so it felt) I got a call, interviewed, and landed a job that is everything God had shown me I should be looking for. But it wasn't because I went hunting it down. I did apply to it (along with 100+ other positions during those months). But I didn't know what it was, I didn't understand the job (even after the interviews really). It wasn't until a few weeks into working the new job that I realized how much of a perfect fit it was, and the best part is... I DID NOT DO IT. It wasn't my planning or research. A non-believer would call it dumb luck that I submitted the application not knowing what it was, and that I got interviewed two months after applying, and that I was late to the interview and got hired anyway, and that in so many ways God's favor was on the process.

That was the lesson. FAVOR. I didn't get hired because of my talents, I got hired because of His Favor and Kindness to me.

And that brings me back around to my point (which you probably thought I'd forgotten).

What COULD a resume look like, that wasn't about ME (or you)?

What if I chose to look at my resume as a highlights reel and review of all the Favor God has had on my life. What if my resume was all about what He's done in me, for me, and through me, and not about my background, my accomplishments, and me, me, me... What if my resume was about what My God can do through me FOR YOU?

It need not sound so religious on paper, in fact, it probably shouldn't. We are in this world, and not of it. We are here to minister to them, not take from them. We are backed by the King of Kings, we are here to serve, not be served. And being too religious just turns people off. We have an enemy. That enemy is out to attack us, and prevent us from accomplishing the mission of serving others into God's Kingdom.

It may be that we need to be a bit more stealthy in our movements on this earth. Maybe even like under-cover agents in some organizations. We should be wise as serpents, and yet harmless as doves.

So maybe we write that resume, and it looks and sounds 90% the same as what others produce. Same basic content. But the attitude and Spirit behind what we write is totally different. And that scent of Favor wafts through the paper. We sow that resume as a seed, expecting a return for God's investment, not just ours.

What would that resume look like? 

I don't know... I'm going to attempt to draft one myself. I'll try to remember to let you know how it turned out. Why don't you try and post yours to your LinkedIn profile, and I'll do the same to mine (here)? When you are finished, share the link to yours in the comments on this post.


See Also:

Darrell Wolfe, Topos Consultant
Read more ...

Resume: God's or Yours?




What a cool idea for a "Resume Infographic" | By  Bart Claeys
What a cool idea for a "Resume Infographic" | By  Bart Claeys


What if your resume was more about God than you?

Do a search for "Resume" online and you'll find things like the "10 words that ruin a resume", "6 tips for writing an effective resume", or simply "How to make a resume".

While these are all fine and good, helpful even, there seems to be a missing link. There's one big thing that's not being said by the experts about resume's that needs to be said.

What is a resume?

Recently I was talking with a close friend who is a hiring manager.During the conversation he made a point that struck home with me. He said: "What do your qualifications, or those of the other interviewees, have to do with your getting hired? It's the Favor of God that's going to promote you in due time, not your qualifications."

WOAH! What a a great reminder! It's about God, not about me!

In addition, he noted how he has so often seen a resume embellished or enhanced in an attempt to sell "how great I am". He stated, that there is a dose of pride found in many resume's that just turns him off. However, my friend pointed out that you cannot blame the person entirely, we've created a culture that teaches this self promotion. The very act of creating a summary document of your past accomplishments, in an effort to convince someone to interview you for a position, lends itself to boasting and pride.


Wiki Defines Resume'

résumé (/ˈrɛzʊm/rez-u-may or /rɛzʊˈm/; less frequently /ˈrɛzjʊm/ or /rɛzjʊˈm/French: [ʁezyme]),[1] also spelled 'resumé' or 'resume',[2] is a document used by persons to present their backgrounds and skills. Résumés can be used for a variety of reasons, but most often they are used to secure new employment.[3] A typical résumé contains a summary of relevant job experience and education. The résumé is usually one of the first items, along with a cover letter and sometimes an application for employment, which a potential employer sees regarding the job seeker and is typically used to screen applicants, often followed by an interview. The résumé is comparable to a curriculum vitae (CV) in many countries. However, it is substantially shorter than a CV in English Canada, the U.S. and Australia.[4] In French, résumé means summary.

He went on to say that we get so focused on our education, experience, background, accomplishments, and all these things that are going to help us get ahead of the other guy as we compete for that one job... but what if there were another way of looking at the Job Market?

What if we turned the tables on the resume building? 

  • What if the resume was not a list of YOUR past accomplishments and achievements. 
  • What if it had nothing to do with how educated you are, your experience, your this, your that... 
  • What if your resume had nothing to do with you at all?

If you are a believer in Jesus, you should know that God has a specific and targeted plan for your life. God promotes you, not your background. God lifts one up, and puts another down. Humble yourself before God, and HE will lift you up, in due time.

As I look back over my life, I see a trail of jobs that I found searching diligently and then asked God to give me.

In most cases, God gave me what I asked for. I've never been without work, sometimes two jobs at once. However, each position seemed empty.

So I started looking for a new way to find a job. I started praying not for what I wanted, but for what HE wanted.

It was a paradigm shift in my job search.


I have talked about before, and probably will again, about all of the things God showed me during that season (which was just the start of this revelation for me), and I wrote an article about The Sweet Spot, which is at the intersection of your greatest skill and your greatest passion. He showed me to look to Him in my search, and ask Him about what I should be looking for.

It was within two months of posting that article that God led me to the job I have now. I don't want to call it "unexpected", because frankly I was learning how to build my expectation from as early as a year before, that "something would change", God would show me what I was doing wrong and I would look to Him and He would direct me into HIS plan.

That's not to say that my expectation was perfect, mature, or without doubt. In fact, I've struggled with doubt my entire life... but I was working on trying to put my faith, belief, and expectation aside, and rely on His Grace instead. I just kept pulling myself off of the fear and back to Him. I was so ridiculed with self doubt, that I almost didn't go to the interview for the job I have now. If it wasn't for the Holy Spirit, my wife, and my wonderful new boss... I wouldn't have gone. But that's another story.

Frankly... the job was unanticipated. Out of the blue (or so it felt) I got a call, interviewed, and landed a job that is everything God had shown me I should be looking for. But it wasn't because I went hunting it down. I did apply to it (along with 100+ other positions during those months). But I didn't know what it was, I didn't understand the job (even after the interviews really). It wasn't until a few weeks into working the new job that I realized how much of a perfect fit it was, and the best part is... I DID NOT DO IT. It wasn't my planning or research. A non-believer would call it dumb luck that I submitted the application not knowing what it was, and that I got interviewed two months after applying, and that I was late to the interview and got hired anyway, and that in so many ways God's favor was on the process.

That was the lesson. FAVOR. I didn't get hired because of my talents, I got hired because of His Favor and Kindness to me.

And that brings me back around to my point (which you probably thought I'd forgotten).

What COULD a resume look like, that wasn't about ME (or you)?

What if I chose to look at my resume as a highlights reel and review of all the Favor God has had on my life. What if my resume was all about what He's done in me, for me, and through me, and not about my background, my accomplishments, and me, me, me... What if my resume was about what My God can do through me FOR YOU?

It need not sound so religious on paper, in fact, it probably shouldn't. We are in this world, and not of it. We are here to minister to them, not take from them. We are backed by the King of Kings, we are here to serve, not be served. And being too religious just turns people off. We have an enemy. That enemy is out to attack us, and prevent us from accomplishing the mission of serving others into God's Kingdom.

It may be that we need to be a bit more stealthy in our movements on this earth. Maybe even like under-cover agents in some organizations. We should be wise as serpents, and yet harmless as doves.

So maybe we write that resume, and it looks and sounds 90% the same as what others produce. Same basic content. But the attitude and Spirit behind what we write is totally different. And that scent of Favor wafts through the paper. We sow that resume as a seed, expecting a return for God's investment, not just ours.

What would that resume look like? 

I don't know... I'm going to attempt to draft one myself. I'll try to remember to let you know how it turned out. Why don't you try and post yours to your LinkedIn profile, and I'll do the same to mine (here)? When you are finished, share the link to yours in the comments on this post.


See Also:

Darrell Wolfe, Topos Consultant
Read more ...

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Why have a blog on your website?

The fact is that although MOST blogs do not produce an income for the blogger in and of themselves, however they are a great way to express yourself and sharpen your skills to present your work to the world, and get your name out there as a business. For businesses looking for start a blog in addition to their website I recommend a book called: Go Blog Wild by Andy Wibbels
They are also a fun way of sharing your life with your family and friends, especially those who live far away. Some of the uses of a blog might be, but are not limited to:
  • Online Journal (Web Log or BLOG for short)
  • An About Me site, especially helpful for artists, musicians, and actors who need to post head shots and bios.
  • Ministry to others
  • Online Log to post pictures and events from your family to your family and friends
  • Business or Ministry Website that is free and doesn't require a lot of work.
  • Book writing and place to organize your thoughts (can be made private so that no-one else can view it and protect your work from copyright infringement.)
  • Book Writing: Sell, Display, Promote your book with its own website and Down loadable E Book Purchase option.
  • Tactical Journal to keep a log of the things you've found out how to do for your job so that you can go back to it if you need to refresh your memory of how you did it.
  • Good place for experts to show off their expertise and possibly make money doing it.
  • Legitimizes your position as an industry leader.
  • Online Store for your: Art, Crafts, Writing, anything you sell.
Read more ...

Why have a blog on your website?

The fact is that although MOST blogs do not produce an income for the blogger in and of themselves, however they are a great way to express yourself and sharpen your skills to present your work to the world, and get your name out there as a business. For businesses looking for start a blog in addition to their website I recommend a book called: Go Blog Wild by Andy Wibbels
They are also a fun way of sharing your life with your family and friends, especially those who live far away. Some of the uses of a blog might be, but are not limited to:
  • Online Journal (Web Log or BLOG for short)
  • An About Me site, especially helpful for artists, musicians, and actors who need to post head shots and bios.
  • Ministry to others
  • Online Log to post pictures and events from your family to your family and friends
  • Business or Ministry Website that is free and doesn't require a lot of work.
  • Book writing and place to organize your thoughts (can be made private so that no-one else can view it and protect your work from copyright infringement.)
  • Book Writing: Sell, Display, Promote your book with its own website and Down loadable E Book Purchase option.
  • Tactical Journal to keep a log of the things you've found out how to do for your job so that you can go back to it if you need to refresh your memory of how you did it.
  • Good place for experts to show off their expertise and possibly make money doing it.
  • Legitimizes your position as an industry leader.
  • Online Store for your: Art, Crafts, Writing, anything you sell.
Read more ...

FICO Credit Scores | Everything you need to know & one easy way to build credit without paying interest!


Want to build credit without paying hundreds of dollars in interest? Find out in this article.

Scrabble: Free Credit Score
Att: GotCredit "Free Credit Score"


Credit Building Myths



So, I'm hearing a lot of people say things that are just not true, don't make sense, or are just plain bad advice, when it comes to building credit.

Credit building is not rocket science. 

It's true that the math formulas behind the scores are actually akin to rocket science math... But some of the basic things the average person needs to know are actually quite simple.

If you want to build credit without paying interest or creating debt read on, or just skip to the bottom to the conclusion. 

I'm sure you've seen this funny commercial:




I wrote a post previously about FICO and Lending Decisions, to tell you how the banks makes the decision to approve or decline your application.

Now I want to bring in the focus a little to some Credit Building basics. The score isn't the only factor used in lending decision, but it's a big one.


What is a FICO credit score?



The very first things you should know is that THE company that creates your credit score is FICO (the Fair Isaac Corporation). It was started by Bill Fair and Earl Isaac. It is now THE leading credit scoring company on the planet. FICO is the most used credit scoring platform accounting for over 100 BILLION scores sold to date.
Fico.com Excerpt: Engineer Bill Fair and mathematician Earl Isaac found FICO — with an initial investment of $400 each — on the principle that data, used intelligently, can improve business decisions. (1956)
There are other credit scoring companies that exist. Some, like Vantage Score, are making major headway into the field. However, for the time being, FICO remains the most used score on the market. That's a lot of power for one company to have over your future.

When you apply for a Credit Card or Loan; and you get a decline/approval letter in the mail, the score shown on the letter will most likely be a FICO score.

Where is the first place you should go to find out how to manage your credit score? 

Why not ASK the ones who create it!? They created a website just for you, the consumer. You can read all about the who, what, when, where, and why of your credit score. It's not exhaustive, but it is thorough.
http://www.myfico.com/CreditEducation/articles/

The Big Three Credit Bureaus; Experian, TransUniun, Equifax


There are three major credit reporting agencies (call bureaus) that monitor your personal credit; Experian, TransUnion, Equifax. There could be others, they are private companies after all; however, these are the three that banks overwhelmingly use.

For business credit there are two others to note (Dun & Bradstreet (D&B); and Experian Business).

FreeCreditReport.Com is a site managed by Experian, and endorsed by most banks, for you to get your free annual copy of your credit report from each of the Big Three.

As you might be able to tell, Experian is the big boy on the block, followed by Equifax and then TransUnion.


Three Credit Scores

Let's say that you apply at two banks, on the same day, within ten minutes of each other. Then you get two letters in the mail a few weeks later. One bank says your credit score was 540 and they declined you, the other says it was 620 and you were approved.

How is it possible to have two credit scores? Did one of them make a mistake? No.

If you look again, there are two likely reasons.

1. The first possibility (but least likely) is that one used a FICO score, the other used another score (like Vantage). This is possible, but unlikely as 95% of banks still use FICO.

2. The second (and more likely) is that one score was based on one credit bureau (Experian, for example), and the other score was based on a different bureau (TransUnion, for example). Look at the letter again, it'll tell you which bureau they used.

Since each of the three bureaus has different information on their report, each can have a different score assigned to your report.

Why do I have three credit scores?

Each bureau has a different mix of information about you.

A bank will choose which company to pull the report from, and which to report too.

You have no choice, it's up the banks' established relationships and protocols. You cannot ask a bank to pull from the one you choose; because, the bank would then be basing your credit decision on a report that diffeers from their other customers (a violation of Regulation B "Be Fair"). They have to use the same material and math for each customer.

Some banks may report to just one or two of the bureaus, and some pay report to all three. For this reason, you could have a credit card show up on just one of the reports, but a different card show on all three.

Each of the three bureaus is using the same FICO score, but the formula is then applied to a varying mix of information, resulting in different scores. You then end up with three scores, one for each bureau.

Monitor Your Credit


It's important to monitor your credit on an on-going basis, not just once a year. Why? Not only could Identity Thieves destroy your credit in a matter of hours, but it's not just about identity thieves.

Mistakes, errors and forgotten cell phone bills can hurt your credit too!

If you are restoring your credit, and disputing items, or paying off old items, you want to SEE those items update on your credit. You do not want to wait a year after paying off an old bad debt just to find out that the company never bothered to report that you paid them off.

My Top FREE Pick for Credit Monitoring: Credit Karma


If you want to monitor your credit (reports and scores) without paying for it, there is a site is GREAT and FREE! It is, http://www.creditkarma.com/.

Ok, what's the catch, why is it free?

Because it's the only site, first site at least, to be paid for not by your membership fee, but by ad clicks. The ad's are actually beneficial to you, and they give you a rating of how likely you are to get a product based on your score before you apply. HOW COOL IS THAT?!

Downside of Credit Karama? There isn't any real downside (it's free). But one point to make, you only get two reports, of the three companies out there; therefore, only two of your three scores.

My Top PAID Pick for Credit Monitoring: LifeLock


So if you want ALL three credit reporting agencies you still have to pay for that, typically through an "Identity Theft Protection" service, such as http://www.lifelock.com.

Most "credit monitoring" companies only review the three reports and send you an alert if something looks fishy. They don't actually help you repair your credit.

Lifelock blows every other monitoring company out of the water. They not only help you repair your credit, but they go way beyond credit reports. They monitor public records, your accounts, and more.
LifeLock uses advanced technology to constantly monitor over a trillion data points to help detect suspicious uses of your identity information to get loans, credit and services in your name.†

They are worth the investment if you have an identity to protect, and the money to protect it.

What do YOU need to know about credit building? 


There are a lot of things that go into credit. Consult a credit adviser for YOUR particular situation. The advice I give here is for demonstration of the basics, do with it what you will. 

Here are the basic elements of your FICO credit score. 

There are five components to a FICO score. The image seen here is adapted from FICO's website and gives a breakdown of the categories. FICO scores are based on complex mathematical formulas and as such are fluid.

There is no such thing as A + B = C with credit.When you affect one thing it could change the dynamics of the others in unexpected ways. Therefore no two people would have the EXACT same result because no two people have the EXACT same creditors and credit histories.



FICO Chart



How will applying affect my credit? Inquiries

Many people ask me: "If I apply for this __XYZ Credit Product__, how will that affect my score?"

If anyone tells you an answer other than "That Depends" they are clearly ignorant. 

I've heard bank employees tell people who want to know how an inquiry will affect their credit:

"Oh, it will go typically only go down a few points..." 

While that may be true much of the time it may not be.

A person with no credit history of any kind, that obtains a credit card, may find that adding something to nothing will cause their credit score to go up.

A person with substantially positive credit history that does one application may find their score totally unaffected.

The only thing applying does for a credit score; is that it shows up as an "Inquiry".

If I get declined it will hurt my credit? 


Maybe yes,

Maybe no.

Important Fact: Your credit reports do not know that you got declined. 

They only know that a bank inquired on your behalf.

It could have been declined, approved, or maybe you didn't like the rate so you declined them.

All they know is that the bank inquired (asked about you). Too many inquiries can be bad, just a few not so bad.

Not all inquiries are the same. There is no such thing as a hard pull/soft pull. Just those that count and those that don't count. See FICO for definition.

What doesn't count for me when building credit? 


In short almost everything you've been told does count... doesn't.

Payments on:

  • Cell Phone Bills
  • Rent
  • Utilities
  • These all mean just about nothing to your FICO score. 
The only time these will show up on your credit report at all is if they go to collections.

By all means, pay them on time and don't let them go to collections. That will prevent negative credit issues. But your monthly payments on those won't build your credit score with FICO, at all.

*Exception: If the company (utility, rent, cell phone) happens to have a relationship with the credit bureaus, they can report. 99.9% don't. 

Some people are out there telling you to go buy a $300 TV on your credit card and make payments on it for 6-9 months to build credit.

This advice is WRONG.

Don't do it.

It could make your credit worse, due to the usage rule (we'll discuss that in a moment).

What does count for me?


Payments on Credit Products.


  • Credit Cards, 
  • Department Store Cards, 
  • Loans, 
  • Auto Loans, 
  • Student Loans, 
  • Mortgages, 
  • etc...


Let's take a look at how those payment affect your credit score... Specifically.

Credit Cards can help you build credit, interest free. Here's how.

I'm going to give this advice to those who want to start from scratch or rebuild from scratch. This assumes you either have nothing on your reports in recent history, or you've paid off all old items, or your bankruptcy is finalized and you now want to start over. I give this same advice to anyone who wants to build from scratch. Much of this info will be good for the advanced credit builder to know too. This is MY PERSONAL opinion. It is based on years of experience and research and I believe it whole heartedly but it is just that, my opinion. Do your own research and verify what you need to before using it.

Credit Cards: One easy way to build credit without paying interest!


Get two credit cards.

Not one, not three, two.

I know what you are thinking, credit cards are what created my (or others I know) debt problems in the first place.

Well, yes and no.

Yes they can be a tool for debt.

No they don't have to be a tool for debt.

A hammer is a tool for breaking glass jars or building furniture. It's the hand of the holder that guides it. Credit Cards are a tool, nothing more. Your problem has been perspective.

The banking industry actually studies and classifies credit card users.

There are two primary categories. There are debtors and transactors.


  • When debtors see $100 in their checking and $100 available on a credit card they see $200 to spend. 
  • When transactors see $100 in their checking and $100 available on a credit card they see $100 to spend and multiple tools to use based on the need. 
    • They could use checks, debit cards, cash, or credit cards... but it's all about spending the same $100. 
Debtors view credit cards as borrowing tools. Transactors view credit cards as transaction tools. It's all about mindset.


In fact, the credit card is a powerful tool for the debt free! Credit cards are the only credit product in common use that a debt free person can use to build credit and never create any debt or pay any interest.

In fact if you create debt or pay interest on a credit card; it's proof you are not using them right in the first place.

FYI: Banks don't want you to pay interest on your credit card.

The banks actually don't like debtors. People who put a large balance on their credit card and make payments on it forever are the banks LEAST favorite credit card user, but most common. 
Sure the banks makes interest off of you. But they loose more money from debtors than transactors through charged off/collections accounts by leaps and bounds. The interest you pay is making up for losses on cards that went into collections. 
Transactors actually make the bank more money. Stores pay banks every time you buy something with your credit card. The banks make more money from those purchases than they do from interest. If you make one purchase and pay on it for six months you aren't buying new things and therefore aren't making the bank money. You are also MORE likely to stop paying on it and go to collections. 
They would rather you buy things, pay it off, not pay any interest, and buy more things. that is the real money in credit cards for banks, and those people get lower rates and better rewards for being wise credit card users.



So here's how to use Credit Cards help your FICO credit score.


Credit Cards actually help you in all categories of your credit score, but most especially the top three.

I'm pasting this chart again, so that you can take a closer look.

FICO Chart


  1. Payment History - 35%
  2. Amounts Owed - 30%
  3. Length of Credit History - 15%
  4. New Credit 10%
  5. Types of Credit 10%

Credit Cards have a direct, controllable, impact on 80% of your credit scoring categories (Payment History, Amounts Owed, Length of Credit).

Here's the way to work it.

If you want to see how your credit compares against all the variety of categories go sign up for a free Credit Karma membership and click on "Credit Report Card". 


1. Payment history- 35%

Payment history means one thing, and only one thing. How you made (or didn't make) payments on credit products.

Depending on how you get the credit report they all "look" different in format, there will be information regarding your payment history.

MYTH"Carrying some balance over to pay a little interest builds credit"
FACT: Paying your balance BEFORE your statement cuts shows nothing due, therefore you get an "N/A" on your statement, possibly. Waiting until your statement cuts, produces a "balance due". Paying it before the due date avoids interest AND shows "payment made" or in other works the "OK"/"CUR" that you wanted.

So, instead of carrying a balance on your card. Go out once a month and buy a $1.50 Dr Pepper or a $5 cheeseburger Wait until you get the statement and then PAY IT OFF IN FULL BEFORE THE DUE DATE.

Here's how that works: The payment history could show three things.



1. No Data/Not Available/No Activity: These all have a neutral effect on credit. If nothing was due and nothing was paid, this will be the result. It may look like an empty box, a  slash "/", or a "N/A".


2. Positive Payment History: This just means that something was due and something was paid. It will be indicated by: "OK" paid as agreed, or a check mark, or "CUR" for current". The more of these you have the better your credit is.


3. Negative information. If you are late by less than 30 days this will not effect your credit. However if you are late you may see: "30", "60", "90" days late, or "COL""CO" for collections, or "CHG""CH" for Charged Off. The more of these you have the lower your score will be. 


The ONLY positive thing that comes from this is "CUR" or "OK" that means something was due, something was paid, all was well this month. You can get 12 of those a year. If you make two payments in one month you still only get ONE "OK" for the month.

  • If you make a $25 payment on a $300 balance you get "OK". 
  • If you make a $1.50 payment on a $1.50 balance you get "OK". 
  • The MOST you can get in the way of positive information from  one credit account is 12 "OK"'s per year. 


2. Amounts Owed - 30%. 


Amounts owed on credit cards is a tricky category.

Any and all accounts that can be used and then reused again are considered open/revolving accounts.
This may play out differently on loans, but on an "OPEN" or "REVOLVING" account FICO actually wants to see you are using LESS not more.

In general the FICO formula looks at the total amount you have on the "Credit Limit" and the total amount you have "In Use" and comes up with a Usage  Percentage.

If you have a $300 Credit Limit and you have a $250 balance on your card you are at: 83% Utilization. 
You have used 83% of your credit limit. 
If you followed the advise many give this is exactly what you did. You got a $300 card, bought $250 worth of stuff and made payments on that balance for months (or years).

That was exactly the wrong thing to do.
FICO says the LOWER your utilization score the better, except for 0%.

They want to see SOME usage, but less is more.

Someone with a 5% utilization will score better than someone with a 90% utilization.

However someone with 0% utilization may appear to not be using the card; therefore, may not be able to demonstrate they can use a credit card responsibly.

Getting a credit card and putting it in your freezer may be a good way to stay out of debt, but not a great way to build credit.

A better plan:

Instead go out and buy that cheeseburger once a month and then pay it off. That will produce the payment history you need WITHOUT violating the utilization/usage requirements.
See also these articles on usage:

3. Length of Credit History - 15%. 

This is actually a very short thing to describe.

The older your credit products are, the better. 

This is especially true with open/revolving accounts.

The reason your score goes down, sometimes, when you go closing cards is because the AGES of your cards are being averaged.

Having a 20 year old card and 18 year old card is better than having a 1 year and 3 year.

If you MUST close a card and replace it with a new one go ahead. Try to stick to three open credit cards at most at any one time, two is better.

There could be good reasons for closing a card and opening a new one.


  • Maybe the old card has no rewards
  • The company is lousy or even went out of business. 
  • You hate their customer service. 
It is what it is. If you decide to get a new card, great. First, get the new card. Keep it for a year or two, then close the old one, if you can wait that long.

Averaging a mix 15 year/10 year/2 year cards is different than averaging a mix of 13 year/8 year/1 month cards. So give the new one time to grow before closing the old one.

Best Option:  20 years from now, try to have two cards that are between 15-20 years old.

The final two categories are worthy of note:


4. New Credit 10%
When you obtain new credit, it temporarily lowers your score, until that new credit becomes older established credit. So keeping a credit card for a long time (instead of opening and closing them) will affect this. 

New loans will affect this too, but you can't really help that if you've decided to get a loan. Just move forward, and this will be less affected as the loan progresses. It's only 10% of the score.


5. Types of Credit 10%

This is affected by credit cards too. Having four credit cards is not as good as having two cards and two loans. This part isn't huge, but it's a factor to consider.


Conclusion: One easy way to build credit without paying interest!


So, after all that an examination of the facts, the advise is actually pretty simple.

Get two cards. Go out once a month and buy something(s) for LESS than 10% of their credit limit, maybe even just a soda and/or cheeseburger. Then wait until you get your statement and pay it off in full before the due date.

There is NO REASON, as far as your FICO credit score is concerned, to buy a bunch of stuff. Buy one thing, and pay it off every month for the rest of your life.

And that's how easy it is. Building credit, without debt or interest.


PS: Are there other options? The Small Loan Approach

The more history/experience you show with a variety of products the better. But if you want to keep things simple do it the way I show above.

What if you want to go a step further?

If credit cards are the only product to build credit with that can have no interest or debt, are there other low cost options?

Take out a small loan, pay on it for 6-9 months and then pay if off.

I once talked to a lady who had a ton of cash and liked to pay cash for cars, but wanted to keep up her credit score.

She went out and bought a car with a loan. Paid on it for 6 months and then paid it off, she did this every 2-3 years.

A low interest plan: Secured Loans
I've seen several people who had collateral (cash/car/house/etc) take out a small loan, put the loan money into a savings, and set the loan to auto pay from the savings (or checking). 
Literally the loan money is just paying itself back. 
They may take out a 5 year loan, let it auto pay from that savings for 3-6 months and then add a little money to make up for interest and pay it off. 


Rent vs Own

Things like this can do wonders.

Are you renting?

Why?

You are paying someone else's Mortgage!

Pray about it first, God may have plans to move you half way around the world tomorrow. So don't buy until you are where you know you are supposed to be. 

That being said, instead of buying someone else's house for them, buy your own. I heard one mortgage man say:

You want to rent? Great! Rent from the bank. We'll keep your house payments the same for the life of your loan, and in 30 years we'll give you the house for free!

They even have new options on terms for mortgage loans out there now. They have 15, 10, 8, 7, 5 years terms.

I know many people who bought homes with mortgage payments $100's per month less than they could afford in their budget, just so that they could afford to make regular extra payments and paid them off in ten years instead of 30.

It can be done with planning.

One chap I met paid his primary  house off in 10 years. He then bought a condo for $675 month on a 15 year note. He's renting that condo out for $1,300/month and putting all of that on the loan. He'll have it paid off in 5 years, if he adds a few bonuses/tax returns to that also, could be faster.

Don't buy the biggest place you can afford. Buy a place for MUCH less than you can afford, pay what you can afford, plus occasional extras and you'll have it paid off in no time.


BTW: Mortgage Secret 
Mortgages CAN be easier to qualify for than cars, depending on the person, history, state, and type of mortgage loan. 
ASK, you may be surprised. I was declined for a Credit Card just two months before I was approved for my mortgage, barely by the Grace of God. It CAN be done. If God has given you the go ahead, it  REALLY CAN!

Finally, forget everything I just said, and listen to Dave Ramsey


This may sound like an odd thing to say after all of that... But some people won't listen to Dave, and they really want to build credit. For those who are still stuck inside The Matrix, I want to help them navigate with the best wisdom available.

BUT...

If you really want to win with money, forget about building credit.

That's a loosing game that the banks do not want you to win.







The Insider

The Insider is a BIG fan of Dave Ramsey:

  • Go read/listen/watch Dave Ramsey and he'll teach you how to do it right!
  • Listen to The Dave Ramsey Show (HERE)
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