Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Great infographic: 200 Jobs Compared

The folks at sent me a really cool infographic this morning that shows various jobs and the amount of education, stress and flexibility each job has.  Great visuals of pay versus stress levels and education requirements alongside average salaries per profession.

Play around with it a bit, and you'll be intriqued that not all jobs that require a high level of education have high stress levels, or salary potential.  Might be a good tool for parents of college bound children to look at when they are choosing their field of study.

You can link to it here: 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Life Lessons You Didn't Learn In College--But Will Need at Work

Life Lessons You Didn't Learn In College--But Will Need at Work
By Vicky Oliver

Millennials, or people born between 1983 and 1999, are a talented generation of workers, bringing with them new skills to the workplace. And while this generation has been studied a lot, not all studies concur on their conclusions. Are our youngest employees more socially conscious than previous generations? More into life balance? Sometimes it seems there are almost as many theories as studies.

But a recent survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that more than half of Millennials surveyed were not content with just working. They wanted to be provided real opportunities for career advancement. A new Deloitte study found something similar; 75% of its millennial respondents sought hands-on leadership development from their employers.

Perhaps we can all agree that the newest group of workers seek more power, responsibility, and influence at work faster than their older counterparts did. In this 24/7 Internet-connected world, it makes sense that this generation would expect speedier recognition. But do they have the right skills and attitudes to do it? Here are seven essential lessons for career progression that most Millennials didn't learn in college.

1. Don't feel entitled.  There are now three generations of workers at the workplace. And sporting the entitlement chip can be very off-putting to older workers. The truth is, no one is entitled to any special perks or plum assignments until after he's proven himself. So come in early, leave late, and respect those deadlines. (Unlike in college, deadlines at work often can't be pushed back.)

2. Pay those dues. Today research can be pulled up in a nanosecond, and we're all six degrees of separation from Warren Buffett. But one thing hasn't changed: in order to scramble to the top rung of the corporate ladder, you still have to excel at the bottom. So don't shirk the boring assignments, and do volunteer for additional work if possible. Show supervisors and coworkers alike that you're diligent, self-motivated, and reliable.

3. Find a mentor. How, you wonder? Everyone decries the disappearance of mentors. Seek mentors from the outside if you can't find them on the inside. Look for mentors among your peers at other companies--particularly those who are 5-10 years ahead of you in terms of experience, and hold the kind of position that you yourself would like to occupy in a few years. (Be sure to return the favor once you advance. It's only fair.)

4. Work hard. Make your first job your number one priority--above your love life, exercise routine, and hanging out with your friends. When you're at the office, resolve to be mentally present by turning off your mobile device, too. Thomas Jefferson famously claimed, "I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it."

5. Master the rules, then challenge. Learn the way things are done, and excel at that system and process, before trying to change anything. Too often, especially when we're first starting out, we believe we know a better way. Trust that the system in place is probably there for a reason. If it isn't efficient or up-to-date, learn everything about it so you can build a cogent and convincing argument for doing it differently.

6. Hone your people skills. As the old adage says, "It's not the grades you make, it's the hands you shake." Realize that every business is a people business. Yes, it's essential to be good at the details of your job. But it's even more important to polish those soft skills, including helping others, listening, asking smart questions, not interrupting, being attentive, and getting along.

7. Lead your own way. Don't look for your boss to carve out your career path. You may get lucky and have a boss who will take a special interest in helping you get ahead. Then again, you may have to make horizontal career moves a few times before you move up or find the right career trajectory. With today's "flat" hierarchical structures becoming the norm--i.e., having few if any managers between employees and the top leaders--you may be expected to define your own leadership role.

* * * * *
Vicky Oliver ( is a Manhattan-based job interview and image consultant and the author of five bestselling books on personal branding, etiquette, and career development, including 301 Smart Answers to Tough Business Etiquette Questions, 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions, and Bad Bosses, Crazy Coworkers, and Other Office Idiots. She is a popular speaker, has made more than 500 radio appearances, and is interviewed and quoted often in the major business media. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

5 Key Challenges of Workforce Management

Although managers work in diverse industries, many are faced with similar challenges. Motivating staff while keeping job satisfaction high are concerns most managers face, for example, as well as meeting organizational objectives with the resources at hand.
From staffing appropriately, to mobilizing exceptional output, wine industry professionals are familiar with what it takes to effectively manage staff, including the following considerations addressed by managers at all levels.

Successful Recruiting
Matching employees to the tasks at hand is a primary concern for managers, who strive to bring personnel to projects where they can excel.  Assessing skills and experience sheds insight into each employee's skill set, which effective managers use to delegate work responsibilities.  The ultimate goal is to maximize output, without sacrificing quality, which is best achieved with hand-picked staff proficient in particular areas.  Consultants and employment advisors help managers refine their searches for employees, highlighting the traits employers most need to fill spots within their organizations.

Good Communication
Effective communication is at the heart of employee relationships, keeping workers and their managers on the same page.  And it is a two-way experience, so good leaders account for their employees' perspectives, rather than simply issuing directives for them to follow.

To keep communication flowing freely in both directions, successful organizations create feedback mechanisms and conduct regular interpersonal reviews.  The face-to-face meetings furnish venues for sharing ideas, and elicit genuine feedback from employees.  Follow-up is important, as being heard is only one feature of positive discourse between managers and employees.  Addressing concerns shared by employees cements working relationships, reinforcing each employee's voice within the organization.

Optimal Productivity
Keeping staff firing on all cylinders is essential to maximizing productivity, directly influencing an organization's bottom line.  As a result, managers devote a large share of their resources to ensure output meets organizational goals.

Productivity is closely linked to employee job satisfaction, so maintaining high levels of employee engagement is essential to ongoing success.  Within the wine industry, for example, managers use just compensation and other incentives to keep employees focused on producing exceptional end-user experiences.

Motivate and Inspire Staff
Productivity wanes when employees harbor ill feelings about their employers.  As a result, successful leaders motivate employees by example, illustrating an organization's commitment to its staff and maintaining industry best-practices on the job.  And inspiration isn't always about money - employees also respond favorably to perks like flexible delivery options, family benefits, and other non-cash incentives.

Maintaining positive organizational culture reinforces teamwork and furnishes plenty of reasons for staffers to be proud of things they do on the job.  Double-standards and other inconsistent behavior, on the other hand, undermine collective thinking and drive wedges between employees and managers.

Accommodate Diversity
In the past, particular industries were often characterized by employee 'types' that filled most of the jobs within individual employment sectors.  As a result, similar educational backgrounds and frames of reference were commonly found throughout a given industry.  Today's workforce, on the other hand, is truly global in nature, leading to work environments reflecting much greater diversity than they once did.  Language and cultural differences aside, employee's simply come from all walks of life, blending into workplace dynamics, which must account for the broad perspectives comprising the modern workforce.

Managers wear many hats as they orchestrate the best possible outcomes for their employers.  And though wine industry jobs lean on particular skills and experience, managers within the industry account for some of the same workforce issues seen in other businesses.  Wine professionals find success by recruiting suitable staffers and supporting their efforts to excel on the job.  By communicating effectively and accommodating diverse points of view, wine industry managers set the stage for high job satisfaction and exceptional output.

Author Bio:

This is a guest post by Sarah Brooks from She is a Houston based freelance writer and blogger. Questions and comments can be sent to brooks.sarah23 @

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.