Monday, January 25, 2010

The Wine World gathers in Sacramento: Unified Symposium

If you are just getting your feet wet looking for a job in the wine world, you might consider stopping by the trade show at the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium which is being held here in Sacramento this week. It is a great opportunity to find out what new research has been going on in winemaking and viticulture, learn from industry experts about marketing and forecasting, and find out what the state of the wine industry is. Having gone to the event for the last ten years or so, it is a must attend.

And if you are looking for job openings, stop by the job board posted near the main entrance to the trade show--pick up my card!

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Now that you are looking for a job, you of course have to prepare a resume. People hate writing resumes, and put it off whenever possible. If that rings true with you, take the plunge and start writing about yourself.

Just like with many of my blog posts, marketing pieces, social networking posts, etc., I tend to start writing and see what happens. I don't publish it yet though. I noodle around and put down things that might be interesting, very important information, potential layouts and see where it goes. Only after I get a lot of stuff down in writing do I tighten things up. Do I really need to have my hobbies listed? Do I have my important contact info on there? Am I writing to my audience, or am I writing from my own bubble? After recently helping spiff up a friend's resume, I'm offering some suggestions to make your resume more presentable.

Layout: You don't need to start off without any formatting of your resume. Microsoft Word and other word processing programs have a myriad of templates you can use. In Word, open a new document and choose templates. When I last went in there, there were resumes for different professions, levels of experience and so forth. There are also a lot of online resources, including, and I personally hate resumes that have a lot of unnecessary graphics--pink bars along the top, goofy swooshes along the margins, etc. But I'm old and jaded when it comes to resume review, so do what you want with your resume. Here are some things you should do: Make your contact information prominent. Have sections for Experience, Education and other relevant information. Some ideas for those sections are, Technical Skills, Computer Knowledge, Certifications, and truly relevant Community Activities

Length: I do like a one page resume. If you are an entry-level candidate don't stretch your non-industry job experience for two pages and add a lot of personal interests. A hiring manager can quickly figure out if you are experienced or not, and aren't fooled by a longer resume. On the flip side, if you have a lot of experience, don't cram everything onto one page. Two carefully edited pages is perfectly acceptable, so don't sweat it. My resume is two pages, and I'm proud of it.

Work Experience: I advise to list your current and past employers in reverse chronological order, with your most recent job being on top. Put in there a short description of the company or the department you worked for. If you worked outside of the wine industry for a time, this descriptor will help potential employers understand what you did there and how applicable it is to their need. Make sure you put your job title and dates of employment. Then put down what you did there, your responsibilities and achievements. If you worked in many different positions with the same employer, list the company and length of time there, then break it down into subsections with your job title and dates in that position. Getting into the minutia, if you have worked at the same employer in different roles, try to make it as clear as possible--possibly having the employer and dates in regular formatting and then the individual roles indented to make them "housed" under the umbrella of that employer.

Education: List your education in reverse chronological order as well. If you have a Ph.D. and a M.S. and a B.S., I don't need to know where you went to high school. Rarely do I need to know where you went to high school. But if your high school degree is your highest degree achieved, list it. I encourage you to list research work that you did while at college, especially if it is very pertinent for your job hunting targets.

Grammar: Think back to your days in English class. Are you using the right verb tense? Do your sentences need helping verbs? Are you writing in the same first person or third person narrative. I recommend third person. I think resume grammar is tricky. You are trying to write action oriented sentences about yourself, while putting it in third person. Resumes are full of incomplete sentences--and it is okay. Grammar checking software will make you go crazy trying to fix everything. So read it to yourself, read it out loud, have a friend read it. Make sure it makes sense. And please check for typos. Not paying careful attention to your resume and letting typos slip sends a bad message to a potential hirer. How is that supposed attention to detail?

Be boastful but truthful. You have to paint a positive picture of yourself so that next employer realizes they have to hire you. You also have to be truthful on your resume. Your resume is a marketing tool to get you in front of someone. But when you are putting your info down, make sure you are telling the truth about yourself. Don't add education you don't have, make up jobs for gaps in your work experience or portray your role as bigger than it was. You may be saying, "Of course Amy", but believe me, many people lie on their resumes. Don't be one of them and be able to stand behind anything you put on there.

Okay, so go play around with your resume a bit. You can write it better than anyone else. You lived it and understand it. Put on your hiring manager eyes and read it as if you don't know your background. Now fix any problems and get that thing in front of people that need to hire you.

Friday, January 8, 2010

What is that Degree Worth

I've written in the past about whether or not a degree is worth it. Here are some numbers for you from the College Board, New York. These are typical full-time worker median annual income figures.

High School Graduate: $31,500
Bachelor's Degree: $50,900
Master's Degree: $61,300
Professional Degree (law, medicine, engineering, etc): $100,000

Over a 40-year career a degree has similar earning benefits. For a bachelor's degree you will earn 73% more than without one, 93% more with a master's and 187% more with a professional degree.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Hitting the Big Time

Just a quick note to my readers. I must have hit the big time with my blog because I now get tons of spam comments. So if you have commented in the past few weeks and didn't get a response, I apologize. I now get "robot" comments all day (and night) long that I have to filter through. Keep those comments coming--I'll get to them soon.

Working with a Recruiter or Talking with Myself

Yesterday I got a call from a recruiter who was seeking help for a friend in the wine business. This recruiter has been recruiting in a separate technical field for the last 20 years. When her friend returned from an international stint she started to think about how he could find a job in the wine industry. Talking to her on the phone yesterday was a breath of fresh air, and a bit like talking to myself. I noticed some great traits that transfer well to job hunting.

1. Leave a message with the reason for calling, your phone number, and repeat the information. Yes, I've written about it before, but there is an art to leaving a good phone message. Always give your name and reason for the call. Let the person know when you are calling. Then leave your phone number, and if necessary a good time to reach you. Then repeat your name and number. With the wide-spread use of cell phones, bluetooths and call waiting, it isn't unusual for a blank spot to hit right when you are leaving those final digits of your phone number. It might seem trivial, but your phone number is very important to get right if you expect a return call.

2. Be responsive when you get a call back. When you get your message returned, appreciate the call. My contact let me know she was doing some research on WineTalent and explained why she had reached out to me.

3. Be prepared to explain your situation. My recruiter was calling on behalf of a friend, and she quickly caught me up to speed on her search. If you are calling to find out how to work with a recruiter, let them know that. If you are following up on a resume submitted, let them know...etc. A few things that are worth mentioning is if you were referred by a colleague, if you are currently working but looking for a new position, or if you were just laid off. Make your case with the recruiter, concisely.

4. Ask for advice if you want it. Being in the recruitment business, this woman and I look at resumes constantly. She wanted to find out if wine industry resumes were different from other industry resumes, and we discussed it. If you have a burning question or need advice, now is the time to ask. Recruiters are in the business because we love helping people advance their careers. We know what works, and are happy to talk about it. Just ask.

5. Plan next steps. This could be sending a resume, setting up a call for later to discuss options further, or getting references to your recruiter. Make sure you know what your recruiter is looking for, and do it.

6. Schedule a time. This is when I knew I was dealing with a professional. When I advised my contact to have her friend get in touch with me, she scheduled a time with me that worked for both of us. Recruiters are experts at this--nailing down a time when a client and a candidate can interview is crucial to moving the process forward. By doing a "presumptive close" me on a time, I knew when I would be talking to her friend, I was sure to make myself available then. This helps avoid a long game of phone tag. I cannot stress enough how important and helpful this is--try it.

7. Follow up. Nothing can get accomplished if you don't follow through with your side of the equation. If you said you would send a resume, do it. If you are gathering names of references, get those sent along as soon as possible. Success has always come to people I know who are masters of following up on things--myself included.

8. Keep it personal and professional. When I was talking to my fellow recruiter, we were both interested in each others' business while maintaining a professional demeanor. Job hunting and career advancement is a very personal matter. Recruiters understand that, and knowing a bit more about you helps. While we want to know what makes you "tick", you need to make sure you present yourself in a professional light.

9. Network. Yes, I got the call from this recruiter because she had been talking to her friends about her friend's job search. This is networking 101 and crucial to a job search.

Just looked at my watch and it is time for that call that she booked. Gotta Go.