Sunday, January 21, 2007


My new life in the blogosphere has been quite interesting. Researching other blogs, looking at myspace and youtube sites to view possible community groups and logging onto other websites has opened my eyes to the great amount of personal interaction and information the internet has.

Back in 1999 I worked placing IT professionals. This was when personal websites were just beginning to pop-up, and the IT guys were quick to build their own site. These sites would be listed on their resumes, and they encouraged me to view their page. It must have been the rare recruiter who viewed a webpage--but something that told a lot about the candidate. Sometimes it told too much.

When you are job hunter take a good look at what the web has to say about you. Make sure any personal websites are politically correct and keep you in a positive light. If you have a myspace or similar profile, keep your friends, photos and postings confidential. Recently NPR did a piece about job hunters who have used video resumes to both help and to hurt their search. Another Wall Street Journal article talked about how careful people should be about their information.

Check out these articles at:
Wall Street Journal, subscription required: article appeared on 1/2/07 in the marketplace section

And check yourself out online--before someone else does.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Changing Perspective and Introspection

Greetings from Bangkok!

Just got into Thailand--a great place to visit. Second time here--this time will be spent on the beaches and not so much in the city. Traveling is a great way to see new things, meet new people, and learn a bit about yourself.

All of the troubles and pressures of home have slipped away, and I'm able to think about different things, and in a way get centered again. Maybe I'm a bit of a workaholic. Maybe I am always thinking about work, and what I need to do next. That's why taking time out helps me keep working smart.

Job hunting requires a lot of soul searching. Taking time out to figure it out is well worth it. Introspection allows you to find out what your true values are, and determine how to align your work life with your personal life. Introspection can also give you the information to "sell" yourself when you are writing a resume or interviewing. You've thought about what you want, and also where you've been. You can speak about your talents and accomplishments. And you can frame your comments and responses around what you really believe.

So, whether it's taking a couple of hours and sitting in a cafe and putting your thoughts down on paper, or traveling around the world, it can do wonders for your mind and your career.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

How to Dress for an Interview

Dressing for success has been a formula for years in the business world, but something I, as well as many people I talk to, struggle with when it comes to wine jobs.

People dream of working in a winery. Look at pictures of winemakers or check out what the tasting room person is wearing and you'd think that you can go into a wine job interview wearing jeans, a polo shirt and fleece. But the day to day wardrobe isn't what you wear before your first day.

Take your cues from the type of position you are interviewing for. An executive position requires wearing a suit and tie, or suit and blouse. A position within the finance, sales, marketing and human resources departments require similar conservative attire. Production positions including winemaking, enology, viticulture and laboratory are best interviewed for in well pressed, business casual clothes. Many times when you are interviewing with the winemaking team you'll be touring the facility--and probably checking out some equipment. So the best way to handle it is to wear functional clothes, bordering on business attire.

For hospitality positions you want to wear something that puts you in a positive light. Clean, crisp clothes that are not overstated or flamboyant are preferred. You want to look approachable yet professional.

A bit of grooming before you get there is very important. Shave, style your hair and get any dog or cat hair off your clothes. I also think polishing your shoes adds importance to the meeting. And ladies, if you're going to show off your feet, make sure they are ready for their close-up. I've had clients turned-off by gnarly, ragged feet--even in the height of summer.

And one last bit of advice--stay away from colognes and perfumes. They can detract from your polished style--especially since strong scents can overpower the pleasure of wine tasting.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Black and White and Never Read: How to Make Your Resume Stand Out

My favorite riddle when I was young was "What's black and white and red (read) all over?--a newspaper of course". You want your resume to be read thoroughly by anyone who glances at it. Unfortunately, most resumes are boring and easy to pass over. I read over 20 resumes every day, so here's my tips on making a good resume that recruiters and hiring managers will read, and that will be noticed. (This morning I just read a great resume advice piece in the Wall Street Journal by Dana Mattioli. For those with a subscription, please visit

First, always put your name, address, phone number--including cell phone and voicemail numbers. And everyone should have an email address on their resume. Seems simple, but I get plenty of resumes with no contact info besides a home address.

Next, put a summary section that states what your talents, experience and accomplishments are. This should be fairly short for an entry-level individual, and 5-8 sentences long for exerienced job seekers.

Then a chronologic listing of your job history is always the best bet. Put your most recent position at the top, oldest at the bottom. If you have switched between industries or areas, put the most relevent jobs in a section defined as say, Wine Sales Experience. Then list that experience. Later put Retail Sales Experience and list those jobs. And don't list unrelated old jobs, such as Cattlemen's Bean Girl, or Parking Attendent, part-time. Everyone has had to take odd jobs, but these don't sell your current professional work self.

A resume is a sales/marketing tool. You want to represent yourself in your best light on your resume. Think like hiring managers. If they want a winery sales professional, they want to see that on the resume. If you did indeed sell in the wine industry, put it down. Always represent your dates of employment, job titles and education accurately.

Always list your education, as long as it's post high school. If you took classes, list them. If you have your Associates degree, list it. Of course list your Bachelor's, Master's and Juris Doctorate. I have known Ph.D.'s to not list that degree to prevent being rejected as over qualified, but I'm not sure if this helps them.

Now this is all pretty basic--and if everyone does this all resumes will look the same. First of all, many people don't follow these basic guidelines and their resumes are hard to understand. Second of all, within your job experience you need to list your duties. Use action words and always pay attention to verb tense. And of course, check your spelling. Attention to detail is very important in many jobs, and a resume should be the first example of your's.

So how do you "kick it up a notch"?

  • Use simple fonts and keep the size at about 11 or 12 pt. No recruiter will spend a long time squinting at a hard to read resume.
  • Make sure all your formatting is consistent--titles bold, sections underlined, etc.
  • Keep your information concise--bulleted lists of accomplishments, duties, responsibilities are very good.
  • Use color for listing websites, company names, email. Using tags in your email resume allow the reader to link to your website, email or blog
  • Keep it to 1 page for entry to 7 years of experience, 2 pages for experienced individuals.
  • Show some of your personality in your resume. If you're creative, emphasis it. If you're fascinated with Italian wine varietals, talk about it.

Consistency is key, but a few small details can make your resume the first one I choose to call.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Big Brother is watching, and reading your work email

Did you see a posting for a great job and you want to send your resume? My words of advice are, don't send an email from your current employer's system.

As a job hunter, you want to respond quickly to job postings. Many of us are on our emails first thing when we get to work, and check it regularly throughout the day. Friends send us jokes, family checks in with us, and colleagues shoot out quick messages that need our attention. It's easy to forget that the email system is legally the company's property.

A company has the legal right at anytime to review an employee's emails. Another fact is that email is a written document that can be used in a court of law. So, when you send off your resume to the competition for a job and your employer finds out they can terminate your employment based on improper use of company equipment and systems.

That email you sent with your resume had better be a good one if it means losing your job.

So, when looking for a job, only use personal email accounts for correspondence. Personal email accounts are confidential and cannot be searched by your employer. I also recommend not looking for a job on the company internet because your website visits can also be tracked by your employer.

Having your own email account is simple, and probably takes as long as 3 minutes to set up. I recommend anyone who is actively looking for a job to set up a gmail, hotmail or yahoo account immediately. These email accounts are free for the bare bones features, but all you truly need is an email address where companies can contact you.

So send off those resumes and contact hiring managers or human resource managers all you want through your personal email address. And remember to check your email daily to make sure you are on top of any messages you might have.

Oh, and a personal cell phone or voicemail system is a high priority. Just remember to keep your message professional.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Mentors: Always Ask For Advice and See Where it Leads

This last weekend was a balmy 62 degrees and sunny. I couldn't stay in the house and needed to get outside. So I drove up to Williams with the family, had a picnic lunch from Granzella's deli, and headed to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex ( My family was awed by the sight of hundreds of Snow geese and White Fronted Geese, several Shoveler Ducks, lots of coots and egrets, dozens of Great Blue Herons and many singing Red Wing Blackbirds. We also saw some birds we've never seen before, including a grouse that flew up in front of the car. It was a beautiful Sunday trip, and something that made me think about how I got there. I have one of my wine industry mentors to thank.

All the career advice books say to look for a mentor. The books advise how to find potential mentors, how to contact them, and then how to have them become your mentor. I think this is very good advice, and something anyone should do without giving it a second thought.

I've been fortunate to have had great mentoring experience. But I don't sit down with a mentor and say, "Okay, now that we're having our mentoring meeting, what is on the agenda?". I think that mentors can come from a wide variety of relationships and backgrounds.

My first mentor was my neighbor who traveled the world, was a scientist and loved to invite me over to her house. She taught me about microbiology, genetics, stained glass, different cultures and a myriad of other things. She also employed me to assist with managing her house and property. This job was the most important thing to me, because I always wanted to do a great job for her. The pay was a nice incentive, but the responsibility she gave me was even more important.

After moving away, another mentor was a woman I worked for as a temporary employee. She gave me career advice, showed me the ropes in the insurance sales/underwriting world, and more importantly, on how the work world worked. I often think about how I deal with an issue, and how Annette would have handled it.

Now, always choose your mentors wisely. Back in my IT staffing days, I had the privilege of working with a very articulate Harvard MBA computer programmer who was helping me break into the government IT project world. He was smart, had great advice, told me how to do things I had never done before, and always had a great story to illustrate a point. But when I went to put him on one of my first IT government projects and had to check his educational background, it came back empty. Upon asking him about it, he said it was due to his being in a Top Secret mission involving Noriega, and that after completing the mission, his education, military and work experience was erased to protect him and his family. This made me question his advice, his stories, and of course, who the heck he was. But I don't shy away from mentoring.

My current mentors include my husband, a wine writer, a professor, an employment lawyer, a salesperson and a winemaker. These people have great ideas, an understanding of how to approach situations and personal stories about what has worked and what has failed. I always ask them for advice and use their advice to better myself. Their insight helps keep me from working in a vacuum and allows me to move quicker on ideas.

As a job seeker, my advice to you is this:
1. Talk to experienced professionals in your industry of choice.
2. Digest their comments and glean what you can use.
3. Put those ideas to work.
4. Don't get injured by their criticisms, use them to improve.
5. Follow up with your mentors to let them know how things are going, what's working, what's not, and ask for any additional help or ideas.
6. Always take the opportunity to help others who need it. Mentors often have been proteges themselves, and know the power of experience.

Oh, and take time to look at the birds--always a nice escape. Thanks George!

Friday, January 5, 2007

Do What You Love

Why do you want to work in the wine industry?

This is a question I ask every single one of my job hunting candidates. I sometimes get sheepish smirks, knowing looks, and rarely blank faces. Although this seems like an innocuous question to most, it tells me a lot about why people are in this business.

Although the wine industry may, at first blush, seem glamorous and intriguing, it isn't without it's downside. Long hours during harvest, cold or hot temperatures in the cellar, back breaking labor, and occasionally tempermental co-workers can put a crimp in anyone's spirit. If the reason someone wants to work in a winery is for the high pay and upward mobility I re-examine their future in the wine industry.

Now, if I ask the question and someone's face lights up and she says, "I have a passion for wine" I think she might have a chance in this business. For this person, that love of wine will make her a quicker learner about the industry and how things are done. She might take the long hours at harvest easily in stride, because of her proximity to the fruit, the intimate interaction of the winemaking process, and the magic that results.

Many people go to college and graduate with a winemaking degree and go straight into a winery. Many more people start a career in a different field, and through their interest in wine, decide to make a switch. I have worked with many successful wine industry converts, and encourage anyone to think about making the switch. But first you have to ask yourself why. Love and Passion make it a lot more fun. In wine and in life!