Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Getting into the Wine Industry: 2019 Redux

The most popular post on my blog is Getting into the Wine Industry that I posted back at the end of 2010.  With over 9,000 views of that post, I've gotten a great response over the years, and also have learned about a lot of successful transitions into the wine biz that the post facilitated.  Recently, a finance professional reached out to get a bit more personalized information on that.  Here's his query, along with my answer for today's job market.

Hi Amy,

I hope this note finds you well.  After spending 15 years in finance across various industries (wine/alcohol not being one of them), and getting my MBA along the way, I've decided that I want to work on the business side of wine.  However, getting the transition started has been rather difficult.  I wanted to reach out to see if you can provide any advice on how I can make the transition.

My ultimate goal is to be CFO of a winery but I understand I may have to take some intermediate steps before landing a finance role at a producer.  I live in New York City and job postings for companies in any part of the wine business seem to be few and far between.  And relocation most likely isn’t an option, although my wife has said she’d be willing to relocate if I land the right role in the right geography (i.e., northern California).  I’ve contacted the very few alumni from my business school who work in the industry and scheduled one informational interview so far.  I’m also considering sitting for Level 1 of the WSET certification so that I can add it to my resume.

I wanted to see if you have any additional information to offer, or if there’s anything you can recommend specific to my situation, such as types of companies I might not be considering, how to go about finding networking opportunities, or anything else I can do to make myself more attractive to potential employers.  I’d greatly appreciate any guidance you can provide.



I'm glad you found that post from 2010, and it is definitely time to put up a new take on getting into the wine business.  Reading my post from 2010, I think a lot of it is relevant for your situation.  First of all, finance experience translates well to a broad array of businesses, including wine.  Having your MBA, from a very prestigious east coast school, is also very impressive and gives you a great foundation in business management that many companies will find valuable.  So you have a strong footing to get this transition going.

As you mentioned, networking is key.  I'm glad you put out calls to fellow alumni.  That's a great first start in building your network.  And you've reached out to me, which is helpful for us to build a relationship and for you to gain more industry information.  Keep doing that with others.  I would recommend reaching out to finance people at some of the wineries you like, and see if they would be up for an informational interview.  Most likely it would be a phone interview, given that you are in New York City.  

You mentioned that you would relocate to Northern California.  What about looking at finance positions that are in smaller markets?  Sometimes there are more viable candidates in the epicenter of the wine business than there are in smaller geographies, and you could set yourself apart by bringing an MBA and business experience to an underserved location.  And some of the other markets outside of Napa have major players in the wine business including Oregon, Washington and Upstate New York.  

But perhaps your goal is also to work in the wine industry in Northern California.  There are bigger companies that have more finance and business management needs in the major winemaking areas.  They also are facing fierce competition from their neighbors for the same talent.  The salaries and compensation packages do tend to be better in the bigger winemaking regions, with Napa Valley leading the way (please see the Wine Business Monthly Annual Salary Survey for more information).  Also, larger companies tend to be more willing to bring in professionals from outside of the industry, partly because many industries are so closely related, especially in finance, and because they have more ability to train and develop employees than smaller companies do.

Now, while the product wineries make gets all of the attention, there are a lot of ancillary businesses that need finance professionals.  Vineyard management companies, equipment suppliers, software development companies, fulfillment operations and packaging suppliers all support the wine business.  Don't forget to look at positions with companies that sell products and services to the wine industry.

And with three-tier distribution still alive and kicking, most states have importers, distributors and brokers supporting wine suppliers efforts to sell their wine.  These companies also need finance people, and have locations nationwide.  New York City has many importers and distributors right in your neighborhood.  

I do encourage you to dip your toe in wine education.  Right now, your LinkedIn profile doesn't reflect any wine knowledge.  Getting a first level certificate from WSET or the Court of Master Sommeliers will be a badge you can put front and center on your LinkedIn profile, and on your resume.  As I've blogged about before, you must show some interest in wine in your job search communications and your resume needs to show your strengths.  

I hope this is helpful, and I look forward to staying in touch.  Keep me posted if you head out to Northern California!

Amy Gardner

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

WineTalent Classifieds: Director of Events and Hospitality

WineTalent is working with our client, Castello di Amorosa, on a Director of Events and Hospitality role.  The Director will be responsible for bringing in events to this phenomenal property and managing the events to ensure all guests have a world-class experience at the Castle.  

About Castello di Amorosa:  The property is an amazing and unique event venue in Calistoga.  The winery is an authentically-styled 13th century Tuscan castle winery.  The winery was voted the Best Tasting Room in the US this year by USA Today.  Events at the winery can be held for groups of 200 to 1000, ranging from social parties, corporate events, wine club get-togethers and industry meetings.  The property is vibrant and sophisticated, creating limitless opportunities to create memorable events for guests.

About the Job:  The Director of Events and Hospitality will be promoting the property as a premier venue for corporate and social events.  This person will be handling new business development with hospitality professionals as well as planning and managing memorable events for guests.  The Director will interact closely with industry contacts at a wide variety of businesses including destination management companies, caterers, corporate event planners, as well as resort and hotel event managers.  The ideal candidate will have a strong network of meeting professionals and a keen understanding of the needs and desires of the luxury resort guest.  The Director of Events and Hospitality will also work closely with primary guests to plan and execute world class events throughout the year.  This role manages a team of event professionals and ensures that events are carried out to the highest level of guest satisfaction. 

Requirements:  A successful Director of Events and Hospitality will have the following:
·       Bachelor’s degree in Hotel Management, Hospitality, Tourism, Recreation, Business or a closely related discipline.  Industry experience in lieu of a degree will also be considered.
·       Proven track record in event sales and business development within the hospitality, resort or related industry.
·       Excellent understanding of the Napa Valley and the venues for events in it.
·       Highly tuned eye for luxury.
·       Effortless ability to build rapport in person, on the telephone and through electronic communications. 
·       An ability to work with your team to create memorable and creative events for a wide range of guests.
·       Commitment to creating a strong team work culture within your department to ensure events are carried out to the highest level of customer satisfaction.
·       Ability to represent the winery and its affiliated companies throughout the hospitality and wine industry to continuously promote and support the resort. 
·       Dedicated and professional work habits with a desire to build business and support a luxury brand in Napa Valley.

Compensation and Benefits:
·       This is a full-time, salaried position.
·       Competitive compensation depending on experience including performance bonus, medical/dental insurance, paid vacation and 401(k).

About WineTalent:  WineTalent is a wine industry focused recruitment company.  We work closely with our clients and our job seekers to find the right fit of talents, experience and work environment.  All inquiries will be kept strictly confidential.

WineTalent:  The Right People for the Job

To Apply:  Email your resume to amy@winetalent.net.  

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

You Can Do It: Writing your LinkedIn Profile

Last week I posted about writing your own resume.  Yes, you can do it!  Here's how.  You can also write your own LinkedIn profile.  A good LinkedIn profile is becoming as important as your resume.  There are a lot of similarities, and if you can write your resume, you can definitely write your own LinkedIn profile.  Here are my notes on how to have an effective LinkedIn profile.

Make it look a lot like your resume:  You just spent all that time working on your resume, now incorporate that into your profile.

Photo:  Put up a recent photo that looks professional and engaging.  No, not the photo cropped from your wedding with someone else's cropped torso in the periphery.  Also, not one of you in your car.  (A Cranky Recruiter aside:  I see so many LinkedIn profile photos from the vantage point of a car's dashboard.  Makes me wonder, was someone so mad, they ran out to their car and snapped a selfie so they could start looking for a new job?)  Take a photo of yourself when you are looking good, have good lighting and can say cheese for the camera.

Contact Info:  When setting up your profile, make sure you put complete contact information on your profile.  This can be kept private, but if you want someone to find you here, it is good if they can contact you.  The email you use is the one InMail messages will be routed to, so use one that you can use for LinkedIn messaging.  Your work email might not be best, but if you only look at your work email inbox, putting a secondary, unread email address could backfire too.  I experience this all the time--especially when I have found the ideal candidate on LinkedIn, but have no way to contact them.  Maddening!!!

Background photo:  Find a picture you can put up that reflects something about you.  My profile has a vineyard scene behind me.  I think that makes sense.  The default background is fine, but very uninspired.  Doing a random scan of my connections, approximately 90% of profiles use the default, so that is quite functional.  If you have a social media presence, I think you can find something to put up for your background picture.  You would be in the 10% club of unique background photo profiles.

About:  Write a summary of your experience and what types of positions you are looking for.  Of course, you are probably gainfully employed, so write the summary with that in mind.  Make it sing the praises of your work accomplishments, without it sounding like you are looking for a new job.  Adding a skills section is smart, as is adding information about your educational background, if applicable.

Experience:  This will be pulled straight from your resume.  Put company, title, employment length, and work location.  Then add relevant information within each job.  This can be a paragraph per role, or a paragraph per key responsibilities, depending on length of employment in each role.  Keep it relevant.  If you've been working for 20 years in the field you want to continue in, you don't need to list old, irrelevant jobs outside of your industry.

Education:  List school, degree, any additional accolades (Summa Cum Laude, president of student government, study abroad courses, etc.), and if relevant, date of graduation.

Licenses and Certifications:  Are you an MS?  Put it on there please.  Just got your WSET Level II?  Put it on there.  Are you a certified Cicerone?  Put it on there.  CPA:  PLEASE!  Put down relevant licenses and certifications that add to your marketability.

Skills and Endorsements:  List relevant skills.  Now for endorsements, I think this is a bit of crowdsourcing, but once you put your profile together people can endorse you on the profile.  So put down skills, and hopefully the endorsements will follow.

Recommendations:  If you can, ask former colleagues and managers to recommend you on LinkedIn.  The request process is pretty easy, and if they do not want to do it, they can easily ignore the request.  If you are asking for recommendations, be good and give recommendations for others when asked.

Groups:  Link to some groups of interest to you.

Following:  Get some follows on there for organizations, celebrities, or companies that interest you.

Accomplishments:  If you hold a board seat, have published an article or research paper, have secondary language skills or are hold a patent, put it down.  There are several things you can list, so use this area to enhance your profile.

Interests:  Are you part of a trade group?  Do you like to follow Mr. Wonderful?  Show your interests here.  Yes, just like on your resume make sure they are relevant and give a positive impression of you.  But some personality is good to show here too.

Connections:  Once you've put your profile together, link up to your friends, family and colleagues.  The more connections you have on LinkedIn, the more likely you will make more.  The funny thing people like to say is that they are very promiscuous on LinkedIn.  They connect with anyone and everyone.  Doing this,  you'll be more easily findable by recruiters, like me!  Isn't that one of the big reasons you are on LinkedIn.

And keep it current!  Go into your profile from time to time to make sure it is up to date and relevant.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

You Can Do It: Writing Your Own Resume

Recently I've been talking to several people who are just starting to put out feelers for a new job.  Some people haven't updated their resume in a couple of years, others for decades.  Now, a good resume writer can be a great way to get your resume up-to-date, but the DIYer in me says you can do it yourself.  Here are some pointers on drafting up your new resume:

Make it easy on the eyes:  First, I think using a free resume template is smart.  Canva.com has some great, free templates you can use.  Some people have also found good templates on Etsy.

Make your resume get noticed: Using a template with some color-blocking or splashes of color is my advice.  Nothing brightens my day like a smart, well-written resume with some good subject headers and some color, any color.  Please!

How do I reach you?  Yes, put your contact information at the top of your resume.  Name, phone number, email and your city and state of residence is what I want.  I recommend not putting down your home address.  Let's keep some personal information private, for your safety.  

Quickly, who are you?  For most people with some industry experience, put a professional summary section at the top of your resume.  It doesn't need to be long, but putting your career highlights in there is smart.  I like seeing numbers.  Percentages of revenue increases, number of new customers brought in, total increases in revenues you were responsible for.  Now, not every job has a lot of numbers, so use information that is important to your role.  Quality improvements in winemaking, new efficiencies in your administrative management, reduction in staff turnover, new software implementations, etc., are all good things to put in there.

Education or Work Experience:  I think if you've been working in progressively more advanced roles for about the last 10 years, start with work experience.  List Title, Company, Dates of Employment, and City or State you worked in.  Now, there are a lot of companies out there, even lots of wineries in wine country.  Don't expect someone to know the company you are working at.  Put a short blurb underneath this info that summarizes what the company is.  I like it in italics underneath.  Something like this shameless plug works:   WineTalent is an executive recruitment company that focuses on individualized searches in the wine industry.   

Give me bullet points!  Within your work experience, call out the main functions of your job.  This can include similar items as I mentioned in the Professional Summary, but keep it unique to each section, not copied from another area on your resume.  List major responsibilities.  For sales positions, I like to see key customer relationships, key accounts, and related information.  For hospitality positions I'd list information such as how the tasting experience is conducted, how you grew your wine club or how many staff you managed.  For winemaking positions list your involvement in the vineyard, your responsibilities in the cellar and in winemaking decisions and your involvement in customer/trade engagement.

Logos?  I like it when people use company logos on their resume in the experience section.  A nice, easily identifiable logo goes a long way, so use it to your advantage in your resume.  But make it look right.  One company logo in a list of several different companies doesn't work.  Too many logos and it starts to get busy.  But think about using them if it looks right.  

Can you list your education now?  If you are a fairly recent graduate, highlight your education above your experience.  Or if you are a newly minted MBA, scream that at the top of your resume.  But if your work experience has eclipsed your education, list education information afterwards.  You need to make the judgment call here, but those are my words of advice.

Do you have hobbies outside of work?  I may be old fashioned, but I like seeing some interesting facts at the bottom of the resume.  It lets me see you a bit more multifaceted.  Be smart, think about what you are putting down.  

Keep it to one page!  I know, I know, you are so much more than one page!   But I can have a 22 year old recent graduate and current Barista with a three page resume and an industry veteran with 30 years of work experience who has a one page resume.  You really can be concise and wow me with your experience and do it all on one page.  Please!  But if it doesn't feel right, make it two pages.  Stick to two pages or less.  

Avoid Errors:  Have someone check your spelling, grammar and details.  I have had to throw out too many resumes of candidates that can't spell, have terrible grammar or odd dates of employment.  Don't end up in my circular file.  Check your work, have someone else check it over, and maybe another person too, just for good measure.    

Check for formatting issues:  Not only do resumes end up getting tossed for errors, formatting issues can cause you headaches too.  Some headers don't show up on programs, meaning your name and contact info is invisible, and in turn, you are invisible.  Send your file to some friends and make sure it looks okay on their computers.  And read this article about how to format your resume best for applicant tracking systems.  

Now get to work and write your resume!  I know this is a good DIY project for you.