Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays from WineTalent


Winter is here. The sun casts such long shadows. The dog is dozing in a sunny spot on the carpet. I have a few minutes before starting on my Christmas Crown bread for breakfast tomorrow. Even in the midst of all the hubbub of the holidays, it is a great opportunity to look back on the year and be thankful for everyone and everything that has happened.

This year was a busy one, surprisingly, for wine recruitment. Some long-term clients needed recruiting help, new clients were added, and many new relationships were forged during the placement process. I was able to visit some international clients and enjoy a wonderful trip to Europe. Over the course of the year I have met exceptional wine industry professionals, and look forward to maintaining those relationships into the future.

I want to thank all of my friends out in the wine world, both old and new. I appreciate your help, advice, questions and friendship. Have a wonderful holiday and a prosperous new year. Cheers.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Consultants: Branding Yourself

When you decide it is time to start your consulting business there are several things you need to put in place in order to brand and market yourself. Here are a few items to put in place to make sure your potential clients know you are offering your expertise for hire.

1. Be Findable: If you are out on your own now, the only way you can get consulting opportunities is if people can find you. This can be as simple as making sure your information is in various address books online. Google yourself and see what comes up. If the only way to find you is by paying a private detective or online service, many people will see who else might be available with similar credentials.
2. Tell People: Yes, this is networking. Tell your friends, family and colleagues that you are consulting on projects now. Make sure you let them know what types of projects you are looking for and what you have going on . This is also a good time to reach out to some of us recruiters to let us know in case we hear of any opportunities.
3. Make a consulting resume. Put your expertise down on paper, including relevant experience in a form like a resume. It can be more specific for the area you are planning to consult in, but it should give a good outline of your background. You can include projects you have worked on and clients you have worked with, and specific solutions you have brought to companies.
4. Have a business card. Put your name, company name if you have one, and all of your contact information on a card and have them ready for potential clients. You can get cards made up online quickly and inexpensively. I'll put my plug in for FedEx Kinko's who has always done a great job with my previous corporate and now WineTalent printing.
5. Put together a website or webpage so that people can find you even easier. There are many sites that can help you put together a simple web page that will let potential clients know you are in business. I have had good luck with www.register.com and www.godaddy.com. My current website was redesigned this year and S King Design did a wonderful job.
6. Get involved in industry functions. Getting out there and mingling with old contacts and getting your company listed in trade publications is important. If you can provide presentations or topic specific information your name can be put forward as an expert on industry meeting literature. This will also make you easier to find on internet searches as well.

Good Luck with your consulting business, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Terroir: Experiencing it First Hand

I just posted this on my client blog, but think it will be interesting to you. This is my experience after having traveled for business recently.

Having gotten everything back in order from my travels and visits with clients in France, Spain and Portugal, I have a new found appreciation for how significantly the geography and the geology affect wines around the world. Having grown up in Northern California, I have traveled throughout many of our wine growing locales, and enjoy and appreciate the differences. Prior to my trip, I would have said I have a California palate. Before leaving, I attended a trade tasting for both Argentina and Spain's Rioja region, and the wines were significantly different from each other, in good ways. I have always tried wines from many areas, but haven't always understood what I was drinking.

Upon arriving in France I immediately visited E. Guigal in the Côte Rôtie area of the Rhone. E. Guigal is a large négociant in France that also has their own vineyards and winemaking facilities. Guigal has excellent wines in a broad range of price points. Getting to see the land and the winery allowed me to understand the different techniques they use, and to understand why certain wines tasted the way they did. The winery has several vineyard designate wines that are extraordinary. Seeing the difference a mountain, direction of a hillside or the soil the grapes grew on was quite a lesson in terroir.

Upon leaving Guigal which is in the Northern Rhone, I traveled down through the valley, witnessing the changes in topography, elevation and soil. Côte Rôtie is quite different from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and the wines reflect it.

Traveling in to Spain, the weather was significantly warmer, and the countryside was much like California. Feeling at home, you would think that the wines would taste similar to Californian wines. But each region within Spain has significant differences. The wines of Tarragona were much different from Jumilla and Yecla, not to mention other wine districts in the country. And while the countryside reminded me of home, the wines had a different personality. While I know this is because the wines are made with grapes that aren't used as much as in California, I think it also has to do with a long history of wine making and use of the land.

I think I would be remiss not to point out that the attitude towards wine significantly affects how the wine tastes. Yes, in a blind taste test this wouldn't be the case, but when you pull in to a roadhouse in Alicante for lunch on a Tuesday and the two truckers next to you are eating a three course meal with a bottle of wine split between them followed by coffee and dessert, you see a different attitude to wine. In the countries I visited, it is a way of life to take your time, eat well and have a glass of wine with your meal. Coming home, I have found this almost impossible to institute in my own life--instead I am wolfing down my food while being distracted by what I have to do next. Wine is drunk here more like a cocktail, not as a dining accompaniment.

Spain is an immense land, which I found out while driving around it. It has so many different areas, all with their own personality. The Spanish are a very independent people, which is evident in the fact that the individual states have a lot of power in comparison to other Southern European countries. You also see this in the wines, with significant differences between regions and sub-regions.

Portugal was very similar to Spain in climate, but there was a different feel to it. Visiting the Douro River area and tasting the great wines and ports that are produced with distinctive grapes was eye-opening, and sometimes vertigo inducing. Many of the wineries still stomp their grapes underfoot, which was so surprising to me. Also the ports and other dessert wines were extraordinary, and won over many of my traveling companions who previously didn't like sweet wines.

Back on to Rioja in Spain. I had enjoyed the trade tasting the Rioja tourism group gave in San Francisco, and was able to tour many producers in this area. The wines were very good, and agreed with my palate. The people I met here were also very helpful and friendly, making the time there extremely enjoyable. This was the highlight of my Spanish wine tour.

Leaving Spain we headed to Bordeaux. This fabled wine making area I have read about for years, but have never understood the affect the land had on the wine. Getting to visit the different locations; St. Emilion, Medoc, Pomerol, gave me a new outlook on the wine. The geography was surprising to me, such a flat area without significant elevation. Throughout California vineyards boast their elevation, terrain and jagged cliffs. I didn't see that in Bordeaux. But tasting the wines, you see the difference. Yes, they have had significant success in the past, and money has been put in to maximizing the expression of ideal characters in the fruit. To look at a map does not allow you to understand what terroir means for the area. I was able to get to some great 1st growth properties and taste some exquisite wines, which yes indeed tasted unique to the area.

At the end of the trip I was in Burgundy. This was a late addition to the travel itinerary, but well worth getting to. Visiting several sites in the Beaujolais area, it was interesting how different the land was. The Saône river winds its way through, with some hilly areas and other flatter production areas. Many of the sites are small growers who sell their wine to a larger négociant or co-operative. Seeing the difference between small production areas and large Burgundy wines allowed me to understand the wines and the geographical distinctions better. The last stop in Burgundy was at a nice restaurant that served only local wines, which is easy to do in this area, and excellent traditional French cuisine.

Coming home I have been enjoying my glass of wine in the evening. I've been trying some new wines, while also going back to some house favorites. I have been surprised by how my palate has changed, often favoring the European wines I have visited. Some of the tried and true California wines taste big and overpowering recently. Now when I'm browsing the aisles at the wine shop, I know where the wine is coming from, and what impact the terroir has on the resulting taste. This is so exciting to me. Wine education is very important in explaining the story of a wine, and seeing the areas first hand has been enlightening. I recommend touring as many wine producing areas as possible, and am already planning the next itinerary. Argentina.....Chile.....

Friday, November 13, 2009

Last One: Where in the Wine World is WineTalent


Ok, back home, but thought this would be an easy one. Where am I? And what type of wine is made here? Almost time for a little nouveau wine?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Where in the Wine World is WineTalent


Voila, got in two days ago--visited some great names and had some excellent food and wine. Any thoughts about where I am.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Where in the Wine World is WineTalent


Enjoying the fall colors here south of Basque country. The hills are so picturesque. The phrase of the day, "This would make a nice picture". Had excellent visits today. Where am I?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Where in the Wine World is WineTalent


Had excellent visits in the last couple of days--but could hardly handle the drive to get to some of these places. Steep drop offs, lots of local grape varieties--some are aged a few years, other for a long time. The river at the bottom of the terrain helps get the wines out to port. Where am I.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Where in the Wine World is WineTalent


Just got up to a foggy morning in the Duoro Valley--staying at a beautiful hotel near Sabroso, Portugal. Yesterday I was in the Alentejo area of Spain. The area has gentle rolling hills with lots of olive and oak trees. Ferdinand the Bull looks quite content under a beautiful oak tree here smelling the flowers. Looking for a little closure here--where am I? Or more precisely, what am I standing next to? This is something for the cork board back at home.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Workaholic goes on Vacation

Off to Europe for work. I'll be traveling to France, Spain and Portugal, with a weekend in Morocco. I'm meeting up with several of my clients while I'm over there, and am looking forward to a good education on European winemaking and get to understand the terroir better. I'll post updates while I'm traveling--Where in the Wine World is WineTalent! Look forward to a working vacation.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Cranky Recruiter: Resume.doc

Been reviewing a lot of resumes today. Late in the day....and the cranky recruiter rears her ugly advice again. When writing your resume, save it as you. What I mean is, put your name on the file when you save it. I often get several candidates whom I am talking to, and when I go to pull up their resume from my files, I can't find it based on the title. 50% of the resumes I review are titled resume.doc. Ah, fun. I save them in my database by name, but I'm thinking about your well being here. If you send your resume to a hiring manager, do they take the time to put your resume in their database--or do they have a whole file full of resume.doc files?

I'm keeping it short and sweet. Save your resume as First Name Last Name. AmyGardner.doc is much easier to find than Resume2recruiter.doc, etc.

Have a great weekend. I should be less cranky come Monday.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Cranky Recruiter: Don't Take it out on Me

I am just getting back in the swing of things after taking a few days off to recuperate. This summer has been very busy for WineTalent. Now that most of my positions have been filled, I had to take a bit of time to just relax. Well, now that's over. Back to work.

First of all, let me apologize to anyone that I owe a call to. I do keep track of all my voicemails, and will get back to you one way or another. Sometimes I can't return all the calls during business hours, and will send you an email. Yes, I know if you've left me a couple of voicemails, and will touch bases soon.

Second, my inbox often comes first. This might be sad to say, but I do try to get through all my emails first. This may be a function of our new electronic society--or just how I work. I do receive 10 times the amount of emails than I receive of voicemail, and have to start somewhere.

Third, I do keep your resume in my database and always look there first when a new opening comes up. I always encourage you to check in with me from time to time. You don't know how often that pays off for people. Check out this related post: Where do I find Candidates.

Okay, now why I'm cranky. I have been working in recruitment for a long time. Recently, I have been getting more angry candidates. This could be because I am working on a wider array of positions. Or maybe because by being in business for many years, I know a lot more people, some of which are grumpy. But I think I know what the situation is: the job market. With so many people laid off and the job hunt being tough, I may be a convenient whipping boy when someone doesn't get called for a job, or isn't getting hired as quickly as they would like.

Job hunting is never fun, I know. And if your hunt is stretching on longer than you envisioned, it may be psychologically and financially unnerving when you don't get called about a job. But lashing out at your friends, your family, and yes, even your recruiter isn't the solution. Get up and get back in the hunt. Start at square one. What job do you want. Then, what job can you get, and what job are you willing to take. If you have steered away from lower level jobs, time to get your name in there. If you haven't let some of your old colleagues know you are looking, call them. If you aren't looking at many different sources for jobs, broaden your search. If you are showing up for interviews in business casual attire, take that suit to the dry cleaners, shine your shoes and iron that dress shirt. Kick it up a notch.

And turn that frown upside down! A positive outlook and sunny demeanor help tremendously when you are interacting with colleagues, friends, recruiters, and interviewers. A smile and firm handshake go a long way in the business world--so stand tall, be proud, smile and tell them you want the job. You always want the company and hiring manager to know that you want the job and to work with them. We all want to be wanted, so make sure you express your interest in any job opportunity you hear about.

Okay, back to the inbox, and yes, the voicemails.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The money question - RecruitingBlogs.com

Just read this article on RecruitingBlogs.com, and thought it was definitely good advice when it comes to talking money during an interview.
The money question - RecruitingBlogs.com

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

How to be a Smart Protege, WSJ article

Yesterday in the Wall Street Journal they had a great article about how to be a smart protege. The article addressed how people go about finding and learning from industry experts. I think having a good mentor network is invaluable in your career, and agree with the authors that you have to go out and find mentors and work to make the relationship thrive. I have written previously about my mentor/protege relationships, and encourage everyone to think about who can be a mentor, or a protege, and make the connection.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Resumes and Wine Labels

I've been helping a few of my readers with their resumes recently, and have been pondering the relationship between wine labels and resumes. To the average recruiter, these would be two completely different things, but when someone is often working with job seekers who also have a small wine label on the side, it makes a bit more sense.

I am an average consumer with a taste for wine. I, like the vast majority of wine drinkers, peruse the wine aisles and pick up interesting bottles here and there. What draws me to the wine? Yes, some of my wines choices are to show loyalty to clients and placements. It is fun to drink a bottle of wine when you know the history behind the team there, and I feel a connection to the product. But there are plenty of times I just pick up a wine that looks interesting. Marketing groups spend hours trying to figure out what a shopper will find intriguing--and often I am their guinea pig. Cute labels, something a little different, and occasionally a really "rich" looking bottle will be my choice.

Knowing the time and money that people put into wine labels, I am always surprised when they don't put the same attention into their resume. Many of the same ideas apply between the two mediums. Here are a few examples:
  • Required Information: A wine label is required to have certain things on it by law. So should a resume. Examples of required information are; name, phone number, contact information, experience and education. Without these basics, you aren't telling the reader much about you.
  • Theme: While I don't want cute little Australian critters on your resume, I do like to have a well presented resume. The theme so to speak can be bold headings with bulleted sections. Another example of a theme would be to consistently run your wine and food knowledge throughout the resume. Think about your experience and interests and weave it into the text of your resume.
  • Consistency: This is such a simple item, but one that over half of the resumes I read lack. Whether it is verb tense, sentence structure or typeface, having a consistent look and style to your resume presents you in a positive light. All too often I will get a decent looking resume with one portion "tacked on" at the top or bottom. This tells me that the author had an old resume that they put new information on. It isn't hard to make everything look and read the same. Review your resume, including your text, and edit, edit, edit. Another function I do all the time in MS Word is to hit Ctrl-A, and then put the entire document in the same typeface and font size. This little quick trick saves figuring out formating changes in the body of the resume.
  • Appearance: Look at your resume and see what it says about you. If a wine label had a pretty flower on the label, you might think the wine was floral and light. If you put your resume in the comic sans typeface, I might think you are silly and overused. Just kidding! But really, how your resume looks reflects on you. Put your resume in an easy-to-read typeface such as Arial or Calibri. Also, show some mercy on the reader and put it in a font of 11 points or higher. I'm getting older and my eyes are weary--help me out. Bolding important sections is also a good idea, letting the reader know what you think is important about yourself.
  • Length: Maybe it is lucky that wine labels are only so big. Unfortunately, resumes can be as long as you want them to be. I recommend keeping them to 1-2 pages in length. If you have a longer resume, take a look at some of the information you have on there and see if you could reformat it to fit better on fewer pages.
Thinking about the design and overall look of your resume will help make you look professional on paper. Just like that bottle of wine I picked up, now it's time to see what the true character of the resume's subject by talking to you in person.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Cranky Recruiter: Adobe Acrobat

When I am preparing my candidate dossiers for my clients, I do a lot of work on each resume. I reformat them, add information that may be missing and standardize the layout for easy reading. When any candidate sends in a resume, I save it to my database. And here's where the Cranky Recruiter shows her ugly face. I hate Adobe Acrobat resumes. I am not a technical writer or publisher, and I don't use Adobe Writer. When I get a .pdf resume, I have to save it as text to my database, and then reformat it when I prep the dossier. What came in looking great in .pdf looks awful as text, and then I have to recreate it. If anyone has some suggestions out there for saving it, please let me know. In the meantime, I encourage every job seeker out there to have a .doc format resume. If you want to do a .pdf one, send them both. It will help me out when I'm pushing to get a resume to a client.

Also, when I'm searching for resumes, .doc resumes come up first since I'm running MS Office. Text resumes come up when I'm doing a complete database search. So to get included in the first pass, give me a .doc resume.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Where in the Wine World is WineTalent



Made a run out to Sonoma this week, and stopped in at a great pinot and syrah producer in a Santa Rosa business park. They are one of my favorite wineries--one of their brands even shares its name with my oldest nephew, which is quite unusual. I recommend trying them out--now where was I?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Getting Framed: Ask for Timeframes.

Currently in the throes of a busy recruitment. I've posted the position on Winejobs.com and now am slogging through my inbox and voicemail. Also putting out all those feelers to people I know who might be interested in the position--or know someone who is.

The last couple of days I have been discussing the position with several people. I am learning about their backgrounds and interest in the job I'm working on. This allows me to make a "short list" of potential candidates. Determining who the best candidates for any job is always a learning process, and does take some time. This is where I encourage the job seekers to stay on top of their application.

When you are looking for a new job you can send your resume to black holes and never hear anything back. While I have given advice previously on how to manage this, it happens to the best of us. If you are fortunate enough to hear from a prospective employer, it indicates real interest and possibly a job down the line. Now is the time to take advantage of that contact. When you are on the phone or in an interview, ask the interviewer what the time frame is on this recruitment. Some time frames that would interest you are how long they have been looking to fill this position, when they are scheduling interviews, and when they want the position filled. This shows you how the process will unfold.

In addition to the time frame of the hiring process, try to get some time frames for YOUR process. Ask when your resume will be submitted to the hiring manager, when interviews will be going on, and when you can expect to hear back. If you hear that they are scheduling interviews next week, you know to be on top of your schedule and ready to book the meeting when that call comes. If they are waiting to finish publishing the position on the company's website before scheduling interviews--things might drag on awhile. I try to let candidates know what the timing will be on recruitments, and when they should expect to hear from me. I often let them know to contact me in case the window of time passes without hearing from me.

Here's a little secret. I get a lot of people interested in the jobs I am recruiting on. A lot of them are very viable candidates for the position. While I'm recruiting, there are a lot of people I interact with. If I haven't heard from someone in awhile, they may drop off my radar. If you are one of the people I'm considering--you should make yourself visible. A polite follow up call in a week let's me know you are thinking about the job, and interested in continuing the process. The person I don't hear from may have taken another position and is no longer in contention. Those follow-up calls keep me on my toes, and thinking about you for the job. This is what you want.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Eating and Interviewing

As a recruiter, I often meet candidates at coffee shops, restaurants and bars. Having done this for years, it comes as second nature for me to eat, talk and interview. But recently I was recruiting for a scientific position, and realized that interviewing and dining is a learned skill.

With home offices and telecommuting becoming the norm, more people are getting together over food to conduct business. Thinking back, when I first did this it seemed very awkward. How can you look intelligent while you have a mouth full of food. What if spinach gets caught between your teeth. And what if, horror of horrors, you spill your pasta all over your lap. Well here are some tips to make it a little less intimidating
  • Be on time: This goes without saying for any interview. By being on time you can meet your host in the lobby of the restaurant, allowing you both to be seated at the same time. If you are early, you may even be able to scan the menu and know what you are having, giving you more time to interact with your interviewer.
  • Let people know you are there: If you arrive before your host, let the staff know you are waiting for someone, and give them your name. This way when the other person gets there they may be introduced to you by the restaurant staff.
  • Follow the other person's lead: Once you meet your contact, defer to them about where they would like to sit, and what type of food they are having. When the waiter asks what you would like to have, you can always let your host go first. This gives you some time to plan your meal, and make sure you are ordering a similar or smaller size meal. You don't want to order a five course dinner if your interviewer was just having an appetizer.
  • Hold off on the liquor: Yes, we are wine industry professionals, but many companies frown on their staff drinking during business meetings. While your interviewer may order a drink, it is safest to stick with a nonalcoholic one. Evening meals are a bit different, as are meetings in bars. Err on the side of caution, but if the interviewer orders a bottle of wine and offers you a glass, it may make more sense to have a drink. Just watch yourself and don't overdo.
  • Think logistically: In recruiting we are always meeting people for lunch and dinner interviews. A former competitor of mine would require their staff to only order food they could eat with utensils--no burgers, no sandwiches, etc. This is a good idea, but can limit your food choices at a diner. And even though clam linguini requires a fork and knife, dealing with those clam shells can be quite a feat. Think about what's involved with the food you are ordering, and go on the safe side. This isn't your chance to try oysters on the half shell, it is an opportunity to spend time with a potential employer.
  • Don't be a glutton: Think back to any and all manner instruction you have had in your life. Listen to what your mother said and don't slurp your soup. If you realize you haven't heard a thing the interviewer has said, maybe it's because you are so focused on the food that you aren't paying attention. Again, this isn't about the food, it is about the meeting. Do eat the meal in front of you, just pace yourself and stay professional.
  • Eat: I know I say that the interview is more important, but this meeting may be held during a mealtime because it was the only time your host could carve out time to eat and meet with you. No one likes to eat alone, and if you are not even touching your food, it could be awkward. Take the plunge and eat.
  • Don't talk with your mouth full: Again, listen to your mother. If the interviewer asks you a question just as you have taken a bite of food, they will understand if you need to take a minute to respond. Planning can limit this. Take a bite of food after you have completed a comment, and eat while the other person is describing the job or outlining the company's policies.
  • Don't clean your plate: While your mother may have forced you to clean your plate growing up, don't worry about it here. If you have been eating throughout the interview, it won't seem odd if you don't eat everything. I also recommend not taking your leftovers home. While you may always do that when you dine out, this is a business meeting. It is somewhat awkward to have to get your food boxed up, and can be even more unweildy to have a to-go box in your hand while you are trying to shake the person's hand at the end.
  • Who pays: While I would recommend bringing along enough money to pay your way, if you were invited to the meal by your host, it is customary for that person to pay. Do not worry about this. As I tell my interviewees, the restaurant is my other office, and I am happy to pay.
  • Thank your host: At this point hopefully your interviewer has picked up the check. Once they have paid, thank them. It is always polite to do this, and is something that the person will expect. The worst thing would be to forget to thank them.
  • Thank your waiter: Be gracious with the wait staff. By showing good manners and being appreciative to them you will show your good manners for future coworkers and colleagues. A thank you when you get your water filled can show that you appreciate everyone who is part of the team. This graciousness will be very important when you work at the company you just interviewed with.
Bon Appetit!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Beware the True Black Hole, the Spam Folder

I am getting to the end of a recruitment, and luckily I searched through my spam folder to make sure nothing got caught in there. To my surprise, there were several resumes of highly qualified candidates in there. After reclassifying them as "not spam" I have been talking to several of them, with promising interest by my winery client.

Job seekers always complain about not getting any feedback after submitting a resume to a general delivery mailbox. While contacting people directly is often recommended, even if you email it directly to the hiring manager it can be received as a suspicious email. Hiring managers are busy, and most likely don't check their spam folder unless specifically searching for a missing email.

So how can you prevent the blackhole of the spam folder? It can be tough. Some companies have pretty stringent filters on their email accounts. Also, if you are sending your email from another country, the country code in the email can signal spam filters. I know this because often non-US emails get caught in mine. I am sure I too have sent plenty of brilliant communiques to clients who would have used my services in a heartbeat--but my solicitation was caught in the filter.

My recommendation is the same as for any serious job search. First, find out who is hiring for a position. Then send your resume directly to that person. Then follow-up with them to make sure they received your email. I frequently get these calls, and do check to make sure the message came through. It doesn't always, and that call allows the message to be resent and successfully received by me. I don't mind calls--I do have trouble getting back to all calls during a busy recruitment, but strive to as best I can.

I know that it isn't always possible to find out who is the hiring manager on a position. If you can't get that information, follow up after you send your resume to a general delivery mailbox with another email in 1-2 weeks. Persistance has a way of paying off. Be courteous and professional.

Good Luck

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Where do I Find Candidates

I have worked in recruiting for 15 years now, and have always told every candidate who submits their resume or contacts me that I will keep them in mind for current and future positions. I think this is easy to say, good to hear, but not always believable. Having amassed a lot of resumes, referrals and contacts over the last five years for WineTalent, I was recently thinking about how I have found my recent hires. Here's what I have found.

In the last two years, about half of the candidates that I present to my clients come from ads I run and the other half are from a variety of sources. These sources include my professional networks, referrals from colleagues, job fairs and my database.

The candidates who ended up being hired were sourced many different ways. Several were from contacts I made over the years and finally the right position came up for them. Others were people I had talked to over many months or years, and then they saw an ad for a position I was recruiting on that they wanted to be considered for. Some hires were people who have submitted their resume in the past from an ad I posted, continued to check in with me over the years and ended up getting a different job through WineTalent. Additionally I have hired people that were referred to me by other qualified applicants. I have also placed people who years ago I met at a job fair.

As a recruiter I know that everyday I need to talk to people and find out who is looking for what position. I also continuously talk to my clients to find out what openings are coming down the line. I am checking in with people at various levels and keeping my ear out for any changes that may affect my clients or job seekers. By doing this, my database of great candidates has become a great tool for placing employees. It also allows me to say with certainty that I do keep all resumes under consideration, and perhaps one day the resume that came in my inbox will end up being the resume of the candidate who gets the job.

As a job hunter I think this is great information for your job hunt. While people always think that it is who you know, it is also what you do with what you have. If you are looking for a job, keep the hunt alive. If you are working with a recruiter, let them know you are still interested in being considered for other openings. Check in with your contacts from time to time to let them know you want to hear about any openings that might be out there. And look at all opportunities to meet recruiters and hiring managers--whether it be by responding to an ad, meeting at a job fair or doing an informational interview with a company. These options could lead to the job you get.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Is the Wine Industry a Growing One?

Back in 2004 I started up WineTalent after years of dreaming about it. I had always enjoyed working with winery professionals. I also believe that great talent is needed to continue to push the industry forward.

One of my first WineTalent meetings was with an industry veteran. He asked me why I was focusing solely on the wine industry, and didn't I think there wasn't much future in the industry. I started sweating bullets. What? I was thinking it was a growing industry. I wanted to focus on the wine industry because I believe a focused approach in business is the best. I also thought there was enough business to sustain a recruiting company for the unforseeable future. I stuck to my guns and expressed those thoughts to him. Luckily, he was only playing devil's advocate, and agreed that the industry was seeing a lot of growth, that there were a lot of changes coming to the industry, and that dedicated, personalized service is a very good approach in the wine industry.

Fast forward to 2009. The US and world economy is reeling from the meltdown of 2008. Wine companies are feeling the squeeze from people not eating out as often, and from people trading down to lower priced wine. But the bright spot is that wine consumption is up. For decades the US consumed more beer than other alcoholic beverages, and only about three years ago did wine consumption eclipse that of other alcoholic beverages. Wine has also been embraced by the millenial generation--those coming of adulthood in 2000 or later. The Millenials are a large generation, second to the baby boomers I believe. Much of the snobbery of wine is being replaced by enjoyment of wine with family and friends in a social atmosphere. This is all good news for wineries, wine employees, and related services, such as me.

With the rising tide of lay-offs I am getting more calls than ever from people hoping to make the move from another industy into wine. Are they just looking to do it because they are drinking more wine--hopefully not. I do believe that most of these people enjoy learning about and drinking wine, and would like to combine that interest with a career in an expanding industry.

I counsel people regularly about switching industries. While many positions require previous wine and spirits experience, there are several positions that can easily allow a career transition. Another point that I mention to people is that many of the people in the wine industry have themselves made a career path move to get into the wine industry. These career-switchers are somewhat more open to looking at people with diverse job experience, and will take the time to discuss possible areas of employment. It isn't that far off that a highly successful person has decided to take some of her earnings and start up a winery. This leap is celebrated often--and can be duplicated on a smaller scale in lots of winery jobs.

So, I do see that there are many areas of growth in the wine industry, and that it is a business with some transition possibilities. It is never a snap to make a industry change, but it is better to look to go into a growing industry than a stagnant or shrinking one.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Cranky Recruiter: Resume Template

Okay, everyone always wants advice on how to write a resume. After recently seeing some awful ones, I'm putting a template out here for everyone to look at. This is a general, all-purpose resume outline that I think is fairly standard.

Name (the name you are known as--if you use an appropriate nickname, put it down.)
Street Address City, State, Zip code.
Phone Numbers--put the numbers you can be reached at. Cell, Home. Put your work number down only if you can get calls there without risking your current position.Email--again, only use personal emails unless it is perfectly acceptable with your current employer to use your work email when looking for a different job.

Professional Summary: List your experience, skills and relevant information for the types of positions you are seeking. If you are a recent graduate, this area may list some work you did in school, or skills such as lab work, computer software, etc. For an experienced professional, this area should highlight the experience and knowledge you bring to a future employer.

Work Experience: In Chronological Order, listing your most recent position first:
Company, Location, Position Title and Dates of Employment. If you have worked for the same company but in many different positions, put a top line listing of the company and entire tenure, then break it down after that into position and tenure.
Job Responsibilities in that position. List what you had to do at that company, what your responsibilities were, and any special projects that you were involved in. If you are looking to enter into the wine industry, I encourage you to describe what the company did, and what you did within the company. An example of this would be if you worked at a paper company. If you were a sales person, list the company, location, position title and dates of employment. Then put a small description of the company, such as, Dunder Miflin is a paper and office supply company based out of New York City that works with large corporations and small business owners to provide office products and solutions. As Sales Manager, I was responsible for overseeing the office staff as well as work with key accounts to attract and retain business. This allows a hiring manager to understand what you did there, and then think of ways you could help at their company. If you were doing specific tasks or using specific technologies, list them.

Education:Degree Received, Name of School, Location
You can put the graduation year, and I encourage you to if you recently graduated. If it has been several years, you may want to keep it off the resume. You do not need to list high school or every community college you attended. List where you received your degree from.

Professional Development/Certifications:
This is a good area to list any management courses taken, technological workshops attended or certifications received that are relavent to the position you are submitting your resume for.

References: List 3-5 if you want, but most every hiring manager understands that you will provide references if asked. By leaving it off, you have a bit more page to use for putting career information on.

How Long: 1-2 pages is best. I often see people with 20-30 years of experience that have distilled it down to one page. The 4-page recent-graduate resume is cumbersome and often irrelevant. Sometimes less is more.

Some things you can list, but only if you have a burning desire to or it is relevant to the position:
hobbies, community involvement, relevant coursework. I would encourage you to keep off birthdates, marital status and number of children and/or pets.

It is your resume, so read my advice, and then write what you want. It should be a reflection of your personality and experience, and that can come across in a well-written resume.

Good Luck.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Don't Call Me on a Friday After Tying One On

While many people get into the wine industry for the love of wine, handling yourself professionally is always a top priority. There are many situations that call for winery personnel to drink wine while working. As in any workplace, handling your liquor well is extremely important. This is true when conducting your job search too.

I regularly will get phone calls from job seekers on Friday afternoon. Most of the time these calls are normal, but sometimes they tell me far more than I should ever know about the candidate. When a person calls me and their words are slurred or they have trouble consistently staying on topic it sends up a red flag. Does this person possibly have a drinking problem? If they do, wouldn't it affect their work performance at a client that I place them at?

Over the years I have had clients look for signs of alcohol abuse during interviews. They look at a person's physique to look for signs of long-term alcoholism. They may have them join in a tasting to see how they handle themselves in front of a large selection of wine. They also may arrange calls in to them after hours to see how they handle themselves.

Think about this when you are conducting a job search. The wine industry thrives on people enjoying a glass of wine. It has never been a negative mark to hear someone sitting down to dinner with a glass of wine. Downing the whole bottle personally while at a lunch interview is another matter.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Where in the Wine World is WineTalent?




Ran the 10K at the most recent fun run in carneros. Where in the wine world am I? Nice duds huh!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Day in the Life of a Wine Recruiter

This morning I posted a winejobs.com ad, and within one hour I have received 50 resumes. Bear with me while I sort through them and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

Friday, March 20, 2009

NPR Piece on Unemployment

NPR's Day to Day program is going off the air today. All of the staff there is losing their jobs. They did a piece about famous film terminations. Being let go is never fun, but maybe hearing famous endings will ease the pain a bit. Link to it here: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=102112039

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Volunteer

A trend among the newly unemployed is to volunteer. This is a great way to stay active, involved and possibly learn some new skills. With the economy in the doldrums, many non-profit organizations aren't receiving their usual charitable donations. Countering this financial deficit is the new influx of people willing to give their time. Volunteer time can be the most helpful donations a charity can receive.

Volunteering your time when you are looking for work might seem like the wrong use of your time, but staying engaged and hopeful can be the best medicine for you right now. Look at what time you have available, and then explore some local charities that could use your expertise. Whether you are helping out at your children's school, fixing a website for the local shelter or helping with bookkeeping at the health clinic, you will be using your skills to help others. And not surprisingly, you will probably expand your network of contacts. The executive director of the charity may also be involved in a new winery start-up, and after seeing how giving and skilled you were, would love to talk to you about a future position.

Volunteering is also a great way to explore new roles. If you have been in management for years, and are tiring of some of the emotional demands, try a different role. By allowing yourself to try on new duties, you might find an area of work that you really enjoy.

Enjoy yourself. This is a very important way to spend your time. You're not sitting on the couch watching TV. You're not wallowing in self pity. You are out there interacting with others. You are enjoying some new camaraderie. You are also getting to know some people in ways you haven't in the past. Helping out at the school allows you to see how your kid's day goes. While helping clean cages at the SPCA you get to see new families light up when they find their family pet. There are so many ways you can lighten up and have fun that you need to take advantage of it.

And most importantly, you'll be helping others.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What to put on your resume.

One of my readers recently wrote to me about writing a resume for the wine industry. With permission, here's the email followed by my suggestions.



Hi Amy,I have recently come across your wine talent blog and I am hoping to get some advice from you on how to develop an effective resume. I am not currently in the wine industry but, I am hoping to enter into it. I am currently a product manager and have a lot of transferable skills. I'm not sure how to create a new career change resume. Do you have any tips that you can share? or sites to direct me to?Any advice you can give will be greatly appreciated! Thanks so much.



My suggestions:
  • Having transferable skills is the most important element, and the part I would promote on your resume.

  • Chronological resumes with your most recent position listed first are the best format.

  • Put an experience section first on your resume. This is where you can highlight what you have done, and what is easily transferred into the wine biz.

  • Use bullet points. Recruiters, HR managers and hiring managers get resume fatigue. We like to have your abilities pointed out to us--easily found and easily understood.

After the format of the resume, I would encourage you to highlight the areas which are easily transferred. Program management is a discipline that can be used within sales organizations, marketing departments, management and administration. Think about what areas could use your skills, and then write your resume addressing those areas. For other disciplines, look at them from a new perspective, and figure out new areas where you can capitalize on them.

Get involved. I say this from a wine perspective. I often see that people who successfully have made a transition steeped themselves in wine knowledge, news and started making contacts. This commitment shows potential employers that you are serious about your change. I recommend taking classes online, going to wine education courses and reading everything you can get your hands on.

Good Luck!

Gary Vaynerchuk on Doing What You Love

Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV posted this on Twitter today, and I thought it would be very appropriate for WineTalent's blog. Hope you enjoy it.
http://garyvaynerchuk.com/post/78965849/doing-what-you-love-can-lead-to-more-then-just-happiness

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Is that a real job posting?

As a recruiter, I am continuously searching for new candidates for openings. While I have several open positions I am working on, I also know that certain positions are soon to come open. I do my fair share of advertising for current openings. I also post common job titles that I frequently have openings for. What I don't do is post phony listings to attract job seekers.

Today's Wall Street Journal had an interesting article in the Career Journal about phony online job postings. The article, It Isn't Always a Job Behind an Online Job Posting, by Sarah Needleman, discusses some of the ploys used by job placement companies as well as of scammers.

I do advise against sending your resume out to any posting you see. Recruiting and staffing firms often post general job descriptions to lure prospective job seekers to submit a resume. Often, these resumes will be useful for current or future positions, and adds more candidates to the search firms coffers. But if you are hoping to have a confidential search, make sure you contact the company and find out as much as you can about the opportunity. If it doesn't sound real, hold off on submitting your resume. If you have skills that closely match a true opening, a good recruiter will follow up with you to find out more about you.

Also, with the tough economic times, beware of putting too much information out for scammers to see. Online job sites are reporting increased scams. Scammers use postings to get personal information, including full names, addresses and job information that they can use for identity theft. Also, career services firms may be phishing to get people who might pay for their services. If your resume submittal turns into a come-on for services--beware. A job posting should be just that--an opening for a real position.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Getting Motivated in Your Job Hunt: Goal Setting

Looking for a job can be one of the worst things to have to do. With lay-offs mounting, the wine industry is not immune to the economic crisis. More and more of my contacts are calling up to say they are looking for a job. It can be hard to get motivated to keep making calls, sending out resumes or searching job boards. But a proactive job seeker will find a job much faster than someone who throws their hands up in the air and hopes for something to turn up. When things get hard, put together some goals, and act on them.

Your goals don't have to be monumental. Sometimes putting together a list of 10 things you can actually get accomplished is the best plan. Having that list, working through it and seeing that you managed to do it will make doing it again tomorrow easier.

A job search goal list could look something like this: talk to two former colleagues, search winejobs.com and winerysite.com for any new postings, review business section to see if any companies announced any new initiatives, send out five resumes and follow up on all emails. It sounds simple, and it is. But doing routine job search activities takes time, patience and persistence. Surprisingly, you will look back on these goals and see where you are successful. Take those successes and increase the activities that are worthwhile. If your networking with colleagues is getting you insight on possible job openings, increase your networking. If you have exhausted all the places you can send a resume, search for upcoming events that might be a better use of your time.

Now just do it! Good Luck.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Avoid the Taxman

Consulting in the wine industry? Thinking about it? Well, be smart and make sure you are a true consultant in the eyes of the IRS.

When you are making a career change, or in between traditional jobs it is natural to think about consulting. It's easy to put out your own shingle and say you're a consultant. But before you venture too far into consulting, make sure you are handling your business correctly.

Companies use consultants in various areas. Wineries use consultants for winemaking, vineyard management, marketing, sales and many other areas. There are many opportunities for a skilled professional to carve out a healthy occupation being a consultant. Companies use consultants frequently to handle areas that they feel need special attention. If a winery owner doesn't know the ins and outs of a particular subject, they will hire a consultant to provide them with the information and often to provide a solution for a problem. While wineries do hire many regular, full time employees for the majority of their positions, hiring a consultant allows them some flexibility.

Okay, so you want to consult, and a winery needs you. To protect yourself and the winery from any potential IRS problems, here are some guidelines to manage your business. The IRS offers an online 12 point checklist for you to review that a client can use to make sure they are hiring a consultant. A consultant is a business person who is responsible for their own business, taxes and marketing. A winery does not have any responsibility to a consultant other than that outlined in a consulting agreement. The general rule of thumb is that a person is an independent consultant if the hiring company has the right to control or direct only the result of the work, not what the work is to be done or how the work will be done.

The basic items the IRS checklist covers are:
  • Behavioral Control: An independent consultant is not directed and controlled by the client. The client can only direct and control the work.
  • Financial control: As a contractor, you have a financial stake in the work, and will incur expenses that the client does not need to reimburse for. Also, if you can show a profit or incur a loss you are more likely to be an independt contractor.
  • Relationship of the Parties: As a contractor, you need to seperate your company as much as possible from your client company. You must maintain your own benefits, insurance and business. You are not an employee, and so you aren't entitled to the same benefits an employee is.
Why is this important? First of all you want to make sure you are handling your taxes correctly. Second, there have been rulings in the past where independent consultants did not meet these requirements, and were eligible to receive the benefits of a regular employee. Microsoft and several other large companies were found to be misclassifying regular employees as independent consultants. These were landmark rulings, and have caused independent consultants to come under scrutiny with the IRS. Clients can be leery of hiring an independent consultant. To see if you can really call yourself an independent consultant, employment lawyers have a 20 question checklist that you can review:

For the following questions, a "yes" answer means the worker is an employee.
1. Does the principal provide instructions to the worker about when, where, and how he or she is to perform the work?
2. Does the principal provide training to the worker?
3. Are the services provided by the worker integrated into the principal's business operations?
4. Must the services be rendered personally by the worker?
5. Does the principal hire, supervise and pay assistants to the worker?
6. Is there a continuing relationship between the principal and the worker?
7. Does the principal set the work hours and schedule?
8. Does the worker devote substantially full time to the business of the principal?
9. Is the work performed on the principal's premises?
10. Is the worker required to perform the services in an order or sequence set by the principal?
11. Is the worker required to submit oral or written reports to the principal?
12. Is the worker paid by the hour, week, or month?
13. Does the principal have the right to discharge the worker at will?
14. Can the worker terminate his or her relationship with the principal any time he or she wishes without incurring liability to the principal?
15. Does the principal pay the business or traveling expenses of the worker?

For the following questions, a "yes" answer means the worker is an independent contractor.
16. Does the worker furnish significant tools, materials and equipment?
17. Does the worker have a significant investment in facilities?
18. Can the worker realize a profit or loss as a result of his or her services?
19. Does the worker provide services for more than one firm at a time?
20. Does the worker make his or her services available to the general public?
(from TaxProphet.com, http://www.taxprophet.com/apps/active2/indep-mm.html).

I know it is a lot to review, but it is good to know what is required, so that you can call yourself a true consultant. I am not a lawyer, but think the information is helpful. Let me know if I'm on or off base.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Social Networking

At Unified last week the Thursday session involved the future of the wine industry, and some of the marketing opportunities available. One of the speakers was Courtney Cochran of Your Personal Sommelier and Hip Tastes. She discussed some of the networking trends for the Millenial Generation. The Millenials are people who were born between 1978 and 1996 and are becoming adults at the beginning of the new millenium. The Millenials are the first generation who are choosing wine over other alcoholic beverages when they socialize. This is a great opportunity for wineries to attract a loyal following of customers.

Courtney Cochran brought up social networking sites, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Generation Xers (of which I'm a proud member) and Millenials are using these sites to stay connected with a large spectrum of friends. Although I've written before about LinkedIn, I have finally dove into Facebook and Twitter. Getting my profile, and that of WineTalent's, complete takes some time, and then you have to figure out who you might know on these sites. It's always fun to connect with some friends you haven't heard from in awhile. Luckily some of my friends are techy, and I linked up to them very quickly. Now I'm searching the sites, seeing what else I can link to on them.

So, did I get much work done today? Questionable. I did get through a lot of emails after being gone last week, and have updated my database. I also connected with some old friends who were on Facebook. I also inadvertently got all of my contacts in my yahoo address book contacted by Tagged. I was signing up after someone linked to me, and before I even finished signing on, hundreds of my contacts were contacted on my behalf. While it is always great to connect, I like to know who is being contacted, and Tagged overpowered me. I now have tons of emails sitting in in-boxes due to a slip of the enter key. Looking over the contacts on Tagged, I quickly discovered it isn't the site I'm going to network on, and canceled my account. Hopefully I haven't done any irreparable harm.

So, get yourself out there on these sites, but don't forget to manage your contacts wisely. And always keep an eye on the content on your pages. Employers and colleagues can look you up and you want to make sure you know what they are seeing.

Friday, January 30, 2009

It has layers

Okay, I tasted the greatest wine at an event held on Wednesday night by Nordby Construction and Moss Adams LLP. During Unified many companies host events after hours, and a very good wine friend of mine invited me along to this one. The wine being poured was excellent, and the food was helpful to keep me in line. My friend sipped several selections, and then brought along a glass for me to try. She did give it a smiling endorsement, but didn't do more than that. I took a sip, and was floored. It tasted so clear and pure--with excellent fruit flavors and what I guess they call balance. And something strange happened, it felt like there were layers of flavors. It sounds odd, but it's true. I asked my friend about it, and she echoed that experience. I have heard of this, read it in reviews, but was floored to experience it so perfectly. The wine was a 2006 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir. I wasn't writing down tasting notes, so can't tell you the exact vintage/vineyard designate--but I will tell you it was one of the best tasting experiences I've had. Now, of course I know they are a great pinot producer--but that first taste was blind, and it was a great wine. Thank you for the wine and the experience.

Unified Symposium, First Thoughts

Just getting back to my desk after three meeting packed days at the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium here in Sacramento. The first days seminars were mostly about sustainability. The second day, and most attended seminar, was the State of the Industry, where great information was shared about vineyard plantings, sales of wine, consumer attitudes and business issues. Yesterday was more marketing driven, with excellent information on marketing wine to the public, particularly millenials.

On Wednesday and Thursday there was the trade show, with two floors of tractors, barrels, corks and other vendors showing their wares. Here's me on the trade show floor. Although I wish I was on a tractor, this will give you a little view of what the trade show is like. I've been going to the meeting for over 10 years now, and it is very nice to meet up with old friends, learn what's facing the industry, taste some new wine and get some great swag. I now have two free wineglasses to commemorate the occasion, as well as two Riedel O glasses, a few corkscrews, some great "green" shopping bags, and lots of reading material.

The first time I attended Unified I was so surprised to see all the wine flowing at the trade show, and in some of the seminars. During the show, it is not unusual for people to be talking to a vendor with a glass of wine in their hand, and many times also in the vendors hand. Doing business this way is so foreign to many of my friends. When I've been at a hosted lunch and wine tasting at Unified and then stopped by to visit my husband at work, he experiences a culture shock. Drinking on the job for many is taboo--and especially for him. But in the wine world, it's work.

I'll report on some of the specifics soon. I hope to see you there next year.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Unified Symposium

Next week the annual Unified Wine & Grape Symposium will be held here in Sacramento. I will be attending all three of the regularly scheduled days. This is a great opportunity to hear about the latest developments in the wine industry and to catch up with old friends. I'll report back on what I learned next week. If you are interested in learning more about it, please visit http://www.unifiedsymposium.org/

Book Review: The Botanist and the Vintner

Just finished, after struggling through for 6 months, The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell. Yes, I'm a very slow reader--sometimes. This book came recommended to me by some fellow bloggers. Being a botanist and working with vintners, I thought it would be right up my alley. While the book is a great account of how the vine disease phylloxera was discovered and how it was eventually remedied in France, the book was a bit dry for my tastes. It is a great historical account of "how wine was saved for the world". If you are interested in reading about the history of viticulture in the last two centuries, take a look at it. It just wasn't a page turner for me.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Why Do Companies Use a Recruiter?

Often people ask why companies use a recruiter. Here are some of the reasons why.
1. The company does not have a Human Resources department. While most large companies do have an HR department, many wineries are small operations. After hiring a General Manager, a Winemaker, a Sales and Marketing person and someone who is in charge of the Tasting Room, most wineries have the main managment positions filled. Then the responsibility gets put onto one of those manager's shoulders--while they still have their day to day work to do. While most winery professionals have experience in hiring, many don't enjoy doing it. Taking the time to post a job, go through the resumes, interview the top candidates and then perform references is very time consuming, and not something that they have time for. A recruiter does those functions for them, and presents the best candidates to them for their review.
2. The company requires confidentiality about the opening. Executive searches are often conducted when a company is planning to change the direction of the company, when a current executive is underperforming, or when a key executive is planning a departure. With a high profile management position, the health of a company is brought into question when an opening goes unfilled. Proactive companies want positions filled to prevent any undue attention. This is frequently when I work with wineries to find a new employee. Through my search services I can network with executives, advertise about the opening, and address questions and concerns that job seekers may have about the management change of the company.
3. A company needs to look at a broad spectrum of candidates. Several of the larger wine and spirits companies work with recruiters to make sure they are talking to all of the available qualified employees. Sometimes companies get a reputation of not hiring people from certain competitors or without a certain degree. When companies change directions, they sometimes need the input from people throughout the industry. By using a recruiter they can talk to some people who previously may have avoided submitting a resume to the company.
4. A company wants someone with a particular talent, but doesn't have the resources to recruit. When a special skill is required, the talent pool is much smaller than for a general experience level. To find the best and the brightest, research is required to find out who the qualified people are, and then who might be interested in the new position. HR departments aren't always equipped to do this, and smaller operations don't have the resources to do it. That's when a recruiter is contacted. Having the recruitment experience and contacts within the industry, I'm able to quickly ascertain who the right candidates are, and work to find who might be interested in looking at a new job opportunity.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Praise for the Beer Truck Mentality

In my old corporate life we were always talking about databases and personal knowledge. The company was trying to get employees to put all of their client and candidate information into the database, instead of in files, on scraps of paper, or in their memory. The idea was to make all the information readily available in the event an employee was not available. As was commonly said, "What happens to the company if one of our top salespeople gets hit by a beer truck?". As a manager, I understood the desire to have all of the information available and not held captive in a person's head. But as an employee, I also understood the power to be had by keeping the information to myself.

If you are an invaluable employee, you most likely have some valuable information and skills that you alone possess. In a company without any databases or free information sharing, you can become quite powerful. This is often the case when you are working independently, have a lot of interaction with people outside the company, and are a hard worker. While companies work to get systems in place to prevent this from happening, frequently the systems are cumbersome and slow. If you are out there doing business, making sales, putting together successful projects, growing excellent grapes or making stellar wine, many managers will turn a blind eye on your failure to document.

I say this half-jokingly. No one wants you to be hit by a beer truck. But being irreplaceable to your employer helps keep you fully employed. While I hammered the importance of using the database, I knew that a great performer was worth far more than a completely executed data file. Surprisingly, many of my best performers through the years have also been highly motivated to keep their information up to date. Knowing all you can about your work is helpful in moving forward and finding new successes, which was probably why those good employees were interested in keeping current with their data.

My take-away for you. Become irreplaceable. Being great at what you do will pay off today and tomorrow.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Never Go Wine Tasting

Over the holidays I visited many of my client wineries. One of the perks of wine recruitment is that you get to taste a lot of great wine. This was very true of my most recent visits. And here's the rub. I can't stand any of the "day to day" wine in my house now.

Many wine writers mention the "tasting room" effect. This is the phenomenon where when you taste it at the winery, it is magnificent, and then once you open it up at home it isn't quite as good. I have experienced this many times. My most recent problem is a bit more economically challenging. This last year I have worked with some outstanding wineries. Tasting the wines on the premises was fantastic. And I haven't had the displeasure of the "tasting room" effect because the wines are just as good at home. Yet, they are cracking the $50-$150 per bottle price range. This would break the WineTalent bank if they became my house wines. I have to keep them in the wine cellar (or closet so to speak)--not the wine fridge in the kitchen.

I have always been a savvy shopper, whether it's for clothes, housewares or wine. I think there are a lot of great wines in the $7-$10 range that we can all enjoy on a regular basis. I've become a regular at the fancy Grocery Outlet nearby--and regularly pick up an assorted case of wines. Sometimes they are knockouts at $5. My husband also loves a good find, and picks up his favorites at the grocery store. After a day's work, relaxing and catching up over a nice, affordable glass of wine is a pleasure.

So I have been quite disappointed when my usual economical wines just haven't been up to snuff. With a busy life, I don't have time to read tons of wine reviews, visit lots of different wine shops and scout out the best deals. I also like to be adventurous and try lots of different types of wines. Don't get me wrong, I encourage everyone to go wine tasting, and to learn more about wine. I also think it is a great idea to go to any local winetasting events held at retailers or local wineries, to learn what wines are out there that you might like. Yes, those higher priced wines I've been tasting recently are excellent, but there are a lot of winners out there at a lot lower price point. If you are looking for a good bottle, ask a friend, or better yet, ask the wine shop merchant. There you can find a lot of great deals.

Oh, for the good old days before swirling those beautiful wines in my glass. A kinder, gentler, more affordable time. As I've written here before, sometimes ignorance is bliss.