Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Does it Matter what School you go To?

As another son of mine starts up his Junior year in high school, thoughts turn to college applications, tuition and test scores.  A lot of hard work will decide where you get accepted--but do enough people think about the earning potential they will have after graduation.  I don't think so.  So, fearless student who wants your hard work to pay off, take a look at the scores of the top 100 California colleges.  This link shows the earnings of graduates 10 years after graduation.   Below is the infographic--with some wonky formatting--the link might be better to use with the mapping feature.

Also, for even more information about how schools stack up on cost to attend, graduation rates, and earning potential of graduates, the Department of Education site has excellent data.  Check it out here: 

And yes, I am encouraging everyone I know to check out the California Maritime Academy, as well as CalTech.  Glad to see UCD ranked 17th.  Go Aggies!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Celebrating All Of Your Hard Work. Thank You on this Labor Day

Here at WineTalent, we value hard work, and greatly appreciate everyone out there who is contributing to our local, national and global economies.  Labor Day may simply seem like a day off at the beginning of September, but it is a day honoring the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of our country.

Labor Day became a US federal holiday in 1894.  It symbolizes the end of summer for many of us, and I am looking forward to celebrating it with some time on the water, and with family and friends.

Labor Day may be celebrated by many of us the first Monday of September, but in the wine industry, many production folks don't get the day off.  Mother nature marches to her own drummer, and only she knows when the fruit will be ripe for picking and when the fermentations will start for winemaking.  For all of my friends working over this Labor Day weekend, please know that everyone greatly appreciates all your hard work, and we hope you'll have an opportunity for some rest and relaxation once crush is over.

To everyone out in the wine community, I hope you and your families can have a ball this holiday or very soon afterwards.  Thank you for all of your hard work.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

How to Land that First Job

All of us need guidance on how to do things, and soon-to-be graduates are just the same.   Here's a question a reader posed, with my advice below.  Hope it is useful for all job seekers out there.

Good afternoon Amy,

I am a senior at Washington State University studying Viticulture and Enology. I wanted to touch base with you about reaching out to wineries and winemakers via email. My goal is to work for a great winemaker as an intern and do whatever it takes to show how hard of a worker I am and the value I can bring as a leader and a team member. I am always learning and I am always trying to get better. 

If you have any advice for me, it would be greatly appreciated.

         Butch T. Cougar
Dear Butch,

Great to hear from you up at Washington State University, and Go Cougars!  I'm glad to hear you are in your last year in the Viticulture and Enology program there.  This is a great time to be graduating with a degree, and a great time to be looking for a job.  The job market is quite a bit different than a few years ago.  It is really active now, and salaries have come up in the last couple of years.

This is a great question and I encourage people to take an active role in the job search.  Contacting wineries and winemakers directly is ideal.  That's what I do, and how I've built my network.  Here are a few things to think about when you are planning your email campaign:

  1. Timing is everything.  Right now might not be the best time to start contacting winemakers.  Here in California, at the end of August, winemakers are thinking about one thing--HARVEST.  If an unsolicited email came into their inbox right now, they'd most likely ignore it and forget all about it in a few days.  I would recommend getting these emails out in December through March.  
  2. Beware the spam folder!  Your email might get in the spam folder.  This happens.  You'll never know if it does.  And if it does, the person you are contacting most likely will never know you emailed them.  So I encourage you to follow up with a phone call, or if you are able to, an in-person visit to the winery.  
  3. Strategize.  Start a list of wineries and winemakers you would really like to work for.  I'm a fan of geographical lists if you need to live in a certain area.  I'd take a map and start contacting wineries closest to home first, and move out from there.  Who doesn't want a 5 minute commute.  It is good for you, for your car and the planet.  
  4. Learn everything you can.  Educate yourself on the wineries and people you are contacting.  Know if they are Cabernet houses, Pinot fanatics, or are trying some funky new varietals and blends.  Put this information in the message to them--it shows you took the time to research them, and you are making a case for why you could be a great intern or employee for them.  
  5. Cast a wide net whenever possible.  If you are hoping to get in with a renowned winemaker, contact everyone you have been interested in working for.  You'll never know if you could have worked for Rock Star Winemaker if you never asked her.  
  6. Follow Up.  This is key.  Follow up with each contact after you send the email (maybe within 3-4 days), and then if you are really serious about a certain place--try to contact them again.  I think I've outlined this in past posts, but try to be pleasantly persistent, not irritatingly hounding anyone.  
  7. Be professional, conscientious and gracious.  Yes, you may be dying to work for that Rock Star Winemaker, but she may just not have anything right now.  And if Ultimate winery hiring manager gives you a call, make sure you return it right away.  Thank everyone you deal with and come across professional and eager.  Hiring managers want to hire people that want to work there.  Make sure they know you want the job if you do.
  8. Informational interviews can get you in the door.  If you get a winery that is open to discuss career paths or the winemaking team, but they don't have an opening today--take the informational interview.  These are generally with people you have contacted, and that you have expressed interest in.  Information Interviews are way you can learn about their company and to get guidance on your career.  You can learn a lot about the industry and jobs, and they may just have an opening come up down the road or know someone who needs Butch Cougar to help out at their winery, right away.  
  9. Interviewing, thank you's, next steps.  If you get that interview, maybe look at some of my posts on how to do it right.  After any interview, informational or regular, send a thank you.  And always see if you can find out what the next steps are during the interview process so you have an idea of the timeline and recruitment process at the company you are meeting with.  
Butch, I hope that is helpful.  Let me know how the search goes--I wish you the best of luck.  

Monday, July 13, 2015

How to Find a Resume Writer

Quick pointer here for people looking for help writing their resume.  Go to the Professional Association of Resume Writers website at and search their database of certified resume writers.

Also, for you DIY folks out there, I just came across a great website with templates for resume writing,  And as I've mentioned before, there are tons of free resources online for resume templates and content development.

Happy Writing!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Cranky Recruiter's Interview Bloopers

Yes, dear reader, this blog is all about advice for the job hunt.  As they say, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make her drink.  I may put the advice out here for consumption, but often people don't know they could use the information.  I thought I'd share some of my favorite interview bloopers to lighten your day.  Think to yourself, "Oh great, is she talking about me?" or "Would hate to be that guy!"  No one ever needs to know but you and me.

Ditch the Beer, not your Career
Blooper:  A few years ago I was interviewing a tasting room manager candidate in a public market
setting.  I arrived a bit early and waited for him.  He sent me a quick text to see if I was there, which I was. He came over and found me, bringing his freshly poured pint of beer.  To put this in context, I was sitting in the common area, not consuming anything at about 11:00 am on a weekday.  In a friendly manner I asked why he was having a beer before our interview and he said he had been really nervous and wanted to calm himself down.  Luckily that occurred during the interview--he finished the pint right about the time I was concluding the interview.  He wasn't the right person for that job, and so far, any others I have worked on.
Moral:  If you find out your interview is about to start--chuck the liquor and get over to the interviewer quicker.

Hello, My Eyes are Up Here!
Blooper:  Maybe you know this, but in an interview it is best to look the other person in the eye or thereabouts.  When you are staring at their chest, navel or anything below their chin you can get yourself in trouble.  Years ago I was interviewing a seasoned salesperson and I was wearing professional business attire.  During the entire interview, his eyes gazed below my chin, and never looked up.   He did however discuss how he was recently divorced, was looking for a nice woman, and, oh, yeah, wants a new job.  Hmm, maybe he has to brush up on his dating skills too?
Moral:  No matter what, keep your eyes on the prize--a job--not anything else.

Would you Like Hollandaise with that Wad of Gum?
Blooper:  Decades ago I was interviewing a young recruiter that I was thinking about bringing onto my team.  He was energetic, had done some high-tech recruiting in the past, and had a good sense of humor.  We had a preliminary interview in the office, and for the second interview we met for lunch.  Salutations and ordering were complete and then our meals came.  The young recruiter took his large wad of gum out and put it on his plate.  Yum, appetizing.  Shockingly I did end up hiring him--and have plenty more stories of his shenanigans after that.  
Moral:  While he shouldn't of had all that gum in his mouth for an interview, his humor, experience and personality won me out--over the huge wad of gum which seemed to be joining us for lunch. 

Sunbather with a Slight Hint of Cocoa Butter
Blooper:  For a particular hospitality position I was doing back-to-back interviews at a coffee shop, meeting experienced managers every hour.  I had gotten to my third interview of the day, and in walked a young woman with her bikini top on under her sundress.  She also had her resume with her.  She had successfully managed teams of up to 5 tasting room personnel and was in charge of the operating budget and revenues for the winery's hospitality program.  And she was wearing a swimsuit.  Now that is wine country casual!  Oh, and for bonus points she did use cocoa butter for tanning so she smelled great.  May be a bit overpowering in a tasting room setting though.
Moral:  While it may be casual in wine country, I appreciate if you wear something that you didn't throw on after sunbathing.  

Thanks, I Needed a Pick-me-up
Blooper:  Recently I was recruiting for a manager role within the engineering department at a large winery.  My candidate met me at the right time, right place and was dressed appropriately.  She brought along her resume, references and some associated documents.  We started the interview at the coffee shop and things were going great.  Right about the time we got into details about her current role her hand struck her coffee cup, hurling it, uncovered, into my lap.  She had my attention then.  She apologized profusely, handled herself very professionally in a very awkward situation and tried to remedy the situation.  While I was wiping up the foamy macchiato, I was giggling on the inside.  This is something that I always worry about doing--not getting done to me.  She ended up interviewing for the position and got the job.  I'll take care of that dry cleaning bill!
Moral:  Things happen.  Be nice and conscientious and most of the time people understand.  And you'll be memorable.  Maybe even earn yourself a new nickname.  Macchiato Mayhem!

Take Home Message:  We all goof up.  Sometimes quite publicly, sometimes in ways only a few people witness.  Handling yourself professionally and courteously will pay off in the long run.