Friday, July 18, 2014

Employers: Why You Shouldn't Post a Blind Box Ad

Every day I scan the top job postings that come through on my Wine Business Daily Digest.  (To get your daily digest, go here).  I was just scanning one of the roles, DTC Manager, and wondered who was hiring. Clicking over to the link, it is a blind box ad.  This means that the company is not mentioned and the email address is a generic one.

The Nancy Drew in me always kicks in and I start to wonder who is hiring.  The clues I have are that it is in Paso Robles, is with a growing winery and with a winery that has a solid tasting room staff in place.  Knowing that there are about 180 wineries in Paso I can narrow it down fairly quickly.  If I was in Paso Robles and knew the word on the street of which wineries were growing fast and had a strong hospitality and tasting room staff, I could quickly narrow it down even further.

Why do companies post blind box ads?  Well, anonymity is the first goal.  If you have a small managerial or personnel staff, you probably don't want to get barraged by calls from job seekers, some of which you probably know.  The second goal often is to keep the search confidential within the company.  Why is this fast growing Paso Robles winery seeking a DTC Manager?  Did their manager possibly give notice, isn't working out, or maybe is out on medical leave?

Anonymity and confidentiality can also work against you when searching for that next employee.  With this blind box ad they are seeking a  DTC Manager with proven leadership skills who can maintain the winery's status as the best in class.  This job takes a great talent.  But will the best in class apply for this role?

The Best in Class Won't Apply:  Often highly qualified people will not apply if it is a blind box ad. The reasons why are very understandable.  First off, if they are in Paso at another winery they may not want their current employer to know they are looking.  (Resume submissions should be kept confidential, but people are people and sometimes might talk out of turn to their friends.)  If this talented DTC Manager is working at a best in class winery, they could rightly worry that they would be applying for a position with their own employer. (Visit my Beware the Blind Box Ad post for a job seeker's perspective)

The Rest Probably will Apply:  So if the talent that has carefully cultivated their careers do not apply, who will end up applying to this position.  Everyone else.  You will get the Florida based hotel receptionist who manages the hotel's social media campaign.  You'll get the telecommunications exec who wants to make a lifestyle change and loves Paso Robles wine community.  You'll get the tasting room associate who is known to sample a bit too many of the bottles he is pouring for the guests.  This does not build on your best in class status.

Use the Brand Name You Have Built:  This company is a thriving Paso based winery with best in class status.  So use that to your advantage.  If you have the best wine tasting, hospitality and education staff in the area, scream it from the rooftops and let job seekers know they would be lucky to be able to join the staff.

Uh-Oh!  Now You are Getting Inundated with Resumes and Inquiries:  Good! If you post the position and are a world class winery, you want to be inundated with highly qualified candidates.  You want the best in class to work every angle to get the opportunity to get an interview.

So How Can You Manage A Posting Better?  It is easy for me to say "shout your company's name from the rooftops" but I also know that you need to be able to control the search process.  Here's how I would control the process a bit better.  While you are putting your winery's name on the ad, you can create an email box that is something like jobs@BestinClassWinery.  When resumes are submitted to that, respond to the emails letting people know their resume has been received and is under review.  When crafty candidates find out who is the hiring manager and leave you a message, be happy they used their good investigative skills and hear what they have to say.

And When a You Might Want to Outsource the Search:  When you can't scream the company name from the rooftops due to confidentiality needs, you can turn to a search firm.  As a recruiter, I do keep all company and candidate information confidential.  I can contact those best-in-class stars at the competition and find out if they are interested in talking about the job.  I can also screen candidates that apply to the job--if they are not good for this role they often will be good candidates for a future opportunity.  While not every winery does need to use a search consultant, it is an option to keep in mind.  WineTalent:  The Right People for the Job!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Lessons on Loyalty Learned at Obedience Class

I really want my dog back.  Oh, she's around here somewhere, but not stuck to me like glue as before.  Being a dog owner for years, I've always been my dogs' leader, sometimes through a lot of hard work and other times by just being there.  My new dog is a beautiful and smart, raven black Labradoodle who joined the family at Christmastime.  Raven is her name and she was quick to understand that I was the one who fed her, bathed her and looked after her.  When I said sit, she sat.  When I was getting ready to go for a walk, so was she.  Every night she slept on pillows on the ground by my bed.  And then I enrolled in dog training classes.

Obedience Class:  To get the family involved in Raven's care I encouraged my sons to join me.  My oldest son did, and sat on the sidelines while I went to our first class.  Raven had been very well taken care of by her previous owner.  He had worked with her and she knew a lot of commands.  Our dog trainer let us move up to the intermediate class where people are there to work on agility training, competitive dog showing as well as a lot of us who just want a great companion by our side--heeling--by our side.  Our instructor has been training for 30 years and had a great group of dogs and owners.  He gave us the basics--that training should be fun for both of us, that training was based on positive reinforcement, and that all actions have consequences.  Getting used to a young dog in a group training setting had me backing into trees, tripping over the leash and feeling silly part of the time.  My son just sat and watched.

Practice Makes Perfect  Many things about dog training are things you have to do regularly.  Going to class one day a week and not working with the dog the rest of the week won't make things happen.  While I did work with Raven a bit, I saw my son taking Raven out in the evenings to work on her commands and have a lot of fun.  Well, that was a good sign.

Who's Your Master?  The next week I wasn't able to attend the class, so my son and his younger brother went to class for me.  

 My oldest son took the lead and had Raven jumping over obstacles, sitting and staying and behaving herself.   He came back and continued to work with her, as did I, and we went to two more classes, picking up some new tricks and learning how best to communicate with the dog.  My son continued to work on things with Raven, giving the training healthy doses of play and praise.  Now Raven can sit and stay for an extended time, avoid distractions when told to, and follows commands very well.  She and I continue our runs and walks, while she plays a lot of fetch with my son.

And now I am all alone.  Raven is by my son's side whenever he is home.  If he gets up and moves about the house, she is up and next to him.  If I have taken Raven for a walk and come home, she immediately checks to see if he's home.  If he is in his room, she rattles her bell to be let into his room--not to go outside like in the past.   Just this moment she was sleeping under my desk.  My son drove up and she sprinted downstairs to greet him.

Loyalty:  Having that furry creature by your side all the time can get overwhelming my son commented.  He asked, "How can I get her to not be loyal?"  I told him to be inconsistent and beat her (knowing of course he would never do that dear readers.).  And that led me to think about leadership and loyalty.  Many of the things Raven looks for in her master are things we all want in our work life.

  • Involvement:  A dog owner who doesn't walk the dog or work on commands will not have a well mannered pet.  In the workplace you want someone who shows up and is involved in things.  The absentee boss who pressures her staff to give it their all while she can't waste time being around does not breed loyalty.  
  • Knowledge:  Having the knowledge of how to teach a dog new tricks led to Raven being a quick study and succeeding in training. Knowing the subject matter and the industry goes a long way in the work place.  Having experience and success in roles that your employees are working in lends a lot of credibility to your leadership.  
  • Consistency:  For every command, the trainer should have the same outcome.  If the dog is to heel and be given a reward when she heels, through consistently doing that she learns to perform the command correctly.  This is the same with people.  When an employer consistently gives promotions to top performers and coaches those who need help, people understand what it takes to be successful in the company.  A boss that reprimands top performers one day and showers praise on them the next creates a very dysfunctional work environment.
  • Communication:  Sit, Stay.  Saying the right words at the right time allows Raven to know what she is being asked to do.  Screaming "No, no, no" every time the dog does anything wrong starts to turn the dog's ear off to that word--it is not important and is said all the time.  This applies in the work world too--a leader who has clear communication with employees is understood and respected.  Commands get carried out.  Hot tempered, poor communicators tend to create teams that avoid interacting with them and who often do not perform well.
  • Rewards:  In dog training rewards come in many different flavors.  There are the food rewards.  There are also rewards of favorite toys.  And showering them with praise, petting them and playing with them motivates them to do what you want.  Paychecks are important in the work world, and paying people what they deserve is equally as important.  But rewards can be recognition by the company and their peers, bonuses, commissions and other opportunities to feel appreciated for their work. 
  • Acknowledgement:   "Good Girl Raven".  Giving her praise whenever she does the right thing at the right time makes her want to always do the right thing at the right time.  So too is it true in the work world.  Let your employees know they are doing a good job--when they are, and give them regular feedback on their performance.   Acknowledge their achievements both privately and publicly to create a performance driven work environment.  
  • Consequences:  In life and dog training there are always consequences.  Knowing that performance is based on rewards and consequences creates a tension that favors positive performance.  When Raven won't let go of her tennis ball she can't play fetch.  When an employee is caught misbehaving they must know there will be reasonable consequences.  While many furry friends and coworkers will be highly motivated to perform because of rewards, bad behavior does have to have consequences.  The consequences should match the infraction.  Coming in late to work could mean getting your pay docked for time absent.  Being late to turn in your expenses means you won't get the check cut for another month.  Failing to perform tasks may mean you no longer have a job where tasks need to be performed.
Out to See the World:  Now that the weather has warmed and my son has completed another year of college he is headed out on a backpacking trip.  His loyal companion will be right at his side.  

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Profile of a Wine Job: Enologist (courtesy of Wine Folly)

Madeline Puckette of Wine Folly posted a great article about what it is like to be an enologist.  Anyone out there wondering what different types of jobs there are in the wine industry should take a look at the post here.  

Some excerpts:

What exactly is an Enologist?  An enologist is someone who is responsible for everything having to do with the science (chemistry and biology) of the wine. Their responsibilities vary a lot from winery to winery depending on the winery size, wines produced, and needs of the winery.

How to become an EnologistAdvice: It is most important to have a good foundation in chemistry and microbiology. Many enologists will also get a degree in Enology.
  • Community College: There are quite a few community colleges that offer certificate programs in Viticulture and Enology. Some of these programs do a great job.
  • University: There are a few universities who offer a B.S. in Enology and have Master’s and PhD programs. The university I attended had a fully operating winery where the students got to experience it all, from harvest to marketing the wine.
Most people who get into wine production like to take advantage of the fact that there are wine producing regions all over the world. It’s fun and educational to travel andwork harvest at different wineries. That is a great way to get experience. You can learn a lot in school, but nothing can prepare you more than hands-on experience.

Wine Folly has lots of other great articles about the wine business and wine appreciation.  Take a look, you'll enjoy it.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Be Prepared: The Pre-interview Checklist

Every good scout knows to Be Prepared.  It is just as important when you are set up for a face to face interview, so here's my quick 7 Point Checklist

 7 Things I recommend to everyone when they are about to interview
  • Bring a copy of your resume.
  • Bring a list of references, present it if asked for.
  • Dress appropriately.  Clean and pressed clothes are always a safe bet. 
  • Avoid coffee right before your interview, but sipping a bit of water beforehand keeps you from getting dry mouth.
  • Brush teeth before leaving home and check for spinach in your teeth before getting out of the car.  Pop a breath mint for good luck!
  • Tell yourself you are a winner.  Check out this article on interviewing, attitude and luck:  
  • And most importantly, get there early.  15 minutes is good.  If you are there earlier, hang out nearby and drive into the business parking lot with 10 minutes to spare. 
      That should do it.  Now go in there, and knock them dead.  

Monday, March 31, 2014

Notes on South Africa

Cheers from Mossel Bay!
Greetings from the other side of the world.  Last month I traveled to South Africa to learn about the wine industry there and explore the Western Cape province.  Traveling to the other side of the globe with my husband took some time, with a three day layover in Istanbul, Turkey letting us get used to the 11 hour time change.  Istanbul was a great country to spend some time in--we could walk to the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia easily from the hotel.  Such an ancient trading port with so much history.

Hopped off the bus in Camps Bay
to enjoy a glass of wine at Zenzero
Arriving in Cape Town, South Africa. Cape Town is the mother city of the country.  We flew in at the end of February, which found us in beautiful, balmy autumnal weather.  For several nights we stayed in the downtown area of Cape Town.  The first night we made our way out to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, a very modern shopping and dining complex at the marina in Cape Town.  It felt a lot like Monterey or San Francisco, but with a touch of Afrikaans thrown in and some new dishes to sample.  And it was surprisingly affordable in South Africa.  When we were traveling the US Dollar was buying a bit more than 10 Rands.  Dining out with an appetizer, entrees for two and a bottle of wine typically cost about $40.

Things to see and do in Cape Town:  In the next few days we took the Hop-on, Hop-Off tour bus which allowed us to learn about the entire city and spend time at places we wanted to explore a bit more.  We saw all the government buildings including the Houses of Parliament where Nelson Mandela gave his first speech after his release from prison, the church where Desmond Tutu was archbishop, the wonderful Kirstenbosch botanical gardens and the Constantia wine producing area.

Neil Grant of Burrata
Food and Wine:  All good travel includes plenty of wonderful meals, and South African food was very good.  We had a lot of curries and fresh seafood.  I loved trying as many South African dishes as possible, and have a soft spot now for bobotie.  Not so much for biltong, but I wouldn't mind packing it for a hiking trip.  I came across a "pop-up" winery spot near Long Street, and got to sample local food with the wines of Spier.  We also got to have some great pizza with a wonderful Cinsault (2012 Waterkloof, Stellenbosch) at Burrata, a great restaurant run by Neil Grant in The Old Biscuit Mill.  Neil is also the President of the South African Sommeliers Association.

Visiting with the elephants in Knysna
Touring the Western Cape:  From Cape Town we headed out east to Cape Agulhas, the southernmost tip of Africa and then on to Knysna.  Knysna was a quiet waterfront town with beautiful views of the bay and the ocean.  Knysna also had an elephant sanctuary where we got to be with the elephants and learn about their habitat and rehabilitation.  Touring to Mossel Bay had me eating oysters on the half shell with a fun South African sparkling wine.  Delicious!  A surprising hit of this part of the trip was visiting the Birds of Eden, the world's largest free flight aviary.

The thatched huts at the game lodge
Game Reserve:  Visiting South Africa as a tourist would not be complete without seeing Africa's Big 5; the elephant, rhino, leopard, lion and the Cape buffalo.  Our trip took us to the Garden Route Game Lodge, where we saw 4 of the 5 big animals.  Our guide did a great job of teaching us about the animals, and keeping us close to the animals but out of harm's way.  We stayed in a private thatched roof cottage and enjoyed ourselves immensely.

La Carbonne's Winemaker Hardus Van Heerden
Wine Country:  The Western Cape has many wine producing areas, and we visited Franschhoek, a quaint European enclave just to the east of Cape Town.  Winery visits included Glenwood, Haute Cabriere, La Motte and Chamonix. We also got a personal tour at La Carbonne during the harvest, visiting with Winemaker Hardus Van Heerden for a tour of the production facility and samples of the tank fermentations and of the wines in barrel.  Visiting La Motte for lunch we dined on wonderful cuisine at Pierneef a La Motte, an award winning restaurant in Franschhoek.  This was consumed along with a memorable Shiraz blended with Viognier.

Enjoying a braai with locals:  Upon returning to Cape Town we had the fun experience of a braai at Denis Garret's spot in Woodstock, just outside of The Old Biscuit Mill .  Denis Garret is a wine consultant and sommelier serving as an ambassador for Champagnes and Cognac in South Africa.  Denis hosted us at a friend's house where we had wonderful conversation, home cooked food (the grilled pork belly was yummy), superb wine which included a 1981 magnum of Nederburg Edelrood.  That wine had held up wonderfully and was quite a special wine to share that night.  Denis is very optimistic about the future of South Africa's wine and culinary scene and provides educational and consulting services to promote the wines of the Western Cape.  He's also an excellent host who knows A LOT about wine, a good friend to have!

University of Stellenbosch.  The next day we took the Metro train to Stellenbosch where we visited with Dr. Wessel du Toit who teaches enology at the University of Stellenbosch.  The university is the epicenter for enology and viticulture studies and research in all of Africa.  It was quite interesting to learn about the wine industry and about enological research from a well respected professor in the winemaking field.  Having lunch with Professor du Toit allowed us to find out about the students involved in the program, the connections with the wine industry and about some of the research projects the university is undertaking.

It's All About the People:  As always, the people are the most important component of any trip I take, and everyone in South Africa was extremely friendly and approachable.  From wine folks who took us under their wing to commuters on the train who offered up stories of day-to-day life, through to the street vendors we dealt with, all the South Africans were excellent ambassadors for their country.  South Africa does have their share of challenges to deal with, just as every country does.  We were pleasantly surprised by everything in South Africa, and would go back in a heartbeat--if only the getting there part wasn't so exhausting.  If you are interested in visiting South Africa I give it two thumbs up--way up.