Thursday, December 19, 2013

Job Seeker asking for WineTalent's Advice

Recently a job seeker asked my advice on job hunting strategies.  Knowing that these are very common questions, I thought an online response would be fitting.  Here goes:

Good afternoon Amy,

I have been applying for jobs online and have a question for you.  When asked for a cover letter, how much detail is expected? I have been advised to keep it to one page.  I was under the impression the cover letter was to address the requirements in the ad and thus was much more involved. Could you clarify this please?

Also, what is a reasonable time to hear back from one of these ads I submit to? I have noticed there is not often an email address given and thus it is impossible to do any follow up. Is it common for there to be some acknowledgment of your application or only if they are interested?

Thanks for any help you can offer,

Job Seeker

Dear Job Seeker,

While I can only offer my perspective, I'm happy to share my thoughts with you.  Here they are:

Cover letters:  Ok, I've probably admitted to this before, but I don't even read cover letters 95% of the time.   It is often another document to open and can be cumbersome when I'm dealing with a lot of new submittals.  I think a resume should be self-explanatory.  That being said, I do like a succinct email message with a polite greeting, a brief introduction and any pertinent information that may not be included in the resume.   This information could include the reason why you are looking for a new role, why this role appeals to you and also facts such as ability to relocate, availability to interview and/or start a job and the best ways to reach you.  But that's me.  Some people really expect a cover letter.  With that in mind, do write a succinct cover letter that explains why you are interested in the role and that you are qualified for the role.  I also recommend including the pertinent information I outlined above.  I think with many of the larger companies they are stripping your resume from any other documents and putting it into their database.  But it is your call if you continue to include a cover letter or simply move to an email message.

Feedback after submitting your resume:  What is a reasonable time?  I don't know.  Many of the ads you submit your resume to are blind box ads and are posted that way so the company can keep its anonymity and not be deluged with calls from job seekers.  While I may kick myself for saying this, I always encourage you to follow up after submitting a resume--when you can.  So if you do submit your resume to a specific company and can put a call into the hiring manager of the department, or the HR manager, do it.  While I may get 100 resumes for a posting, I hear from about 5% of the applicants.  Sometimes the people who have followed up with me discovered that their resume got routed to my spam folder.  Some of those people have ended up getting hired through WineTalent--so it definitely paid off for them to follow up on their resume submission.  

Acknowledgement of submission:  I do try to let every applicant know I received their resume.  When I have someone check in with me I ask if they got a confirmation.  When they don't, sometimes I have found their resume stuck in the spam folder.  Or they realize they sent it to the wrong email address.  But that's my system.  Unfortunately, the vast majority of job seekers say that they never get any confirmation of their resume being received by other companies.  This is after direct submissions to companies, to blind box ads, and to fellow recruiters.  I empathize with the frustration people feel in this situation.  There really isn't much you can do.  I do anticipate that job seekers will hear from a company if there is interest in them as an employee--otherwise  the whole job posting system isn't working!  But that is not much solace during the job hunt.  

Takeaway:  My advice is to be good at submitting ads to openings, at following up on those submissions when possible, and to find out anything you can about the company and the role if it is of real interest to you. 

Good Luck!  Hopefully this is helpful.  Keep me posted on how the job hunt goes.  You'll be hearing from me when a suitable role comes up--hopefully soon!  

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

What Your Facebook Post Says About You

It is so fun to post a lighthearted post on my Facebook or Twitter page. Cheers, everyone, Thank Goodness it is Friday, and here's what I'm drinking tonight.  Luckily, that's as far as the debauchery goes on my social media sites.  But some folks don't filter their posts, putting up their worst party photos, trash talking people they don't like, or posting revealing photos of themselves.  Beware, job seekers, what you post could say more about you and your personality traits than you think.  

Recently a group of researchers at the Department of Psychology at North Carolina State University published their research on how personality traits of job applicants are reflected on social media posts.  This research was nicely summarized in Aaron Elliot's post, Traits of Job Applicants on Social Media Detrimental to Career on the Social Media Today site.  

The researchers studied the links between online behaviors and the personality characteristics of job applicants.  The research focused on two main posting types:  badmouthing behavior (criticizing superiors and peers) and those involving references to alcohol and drug use.  These posting types are often viewed by hiring managers as red flags for potential employees.  These posts were then correlated to the poster's five personality traits:  agreeableness, extraversion, emotional stability, conscientiousness and openness to experience.  

Using this information, the research found that people with the traits of agreeableness and conscientiousness were very unlikely to badmouth others on their posts.  And there was no true connection found between a person's substance use postings and their conscientiousness traits.  They did find that extroverts are more likely to post topics about substance use on social media.  Employers often quickly dismiss candidates with this tendency, possibly eliminating a lot of extroverts from the talent pool.  

Phew, so it is okay to post what I'm toasting with this weekend, as long as I don't badmouth anyone while I'm doing it!  While employers learn what to look for on social media, I encourage you to keep your postings filtered to show off your best personality traits.  

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Wine Business Monthly's Annual Salary Survey

Wondering what a position pays in the wine industry?  Wondering if you are on par with your peers?  Wine Business Monthly publishes an annual salary survey and the most recent one was in the October 2013 issue. Click here to view it.

There are also regional breakouts.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Infographic: Wine 101: A Girl’s Guide to Wine

The folks at Tiziano sent this infographic along to me today.  For more information on Tiziano, visit them here, Great information for those learning to appreciate wine, and a refresher course for those who have been enjoying wine for years.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Jobs WineTalent is Recruiting On

Wow, I can't believe the whole month of September has flown by.  It has been so busy here, I haven't even posted in a month.  Here's why--take a look at the positions WineTalent is recruiting on:

If you know anyone, send them my way.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Book Review: Promote Yourself

Promote Yourself.  I couldn't have said it better myself.  Whether you are starting your first job out of college, re-entering the workforce, thinking about starting up your own business or hoping to improve your standing with your colleagues, you have to promote yourself, and Dan Schawbel's new book: Promote Yourself:  The New Rules for Career Success does a wonderful job of explaining why you need to, how to do it across various aspects of your life, and how to continue to build your own personal brand.                            
Theoretically, Dan Schawbel's book is geared to the recent graduate who is looking to make his way in the work world.  His model candidate is part of the new generation: Gen Y, Millennials, Echo Boomers, Generation Next.  The young Gen Yer is firmly part of his generation, but needs to learn how to work across generations, including folks like me, Gen Xers as well as Baby Boomers and his younger counterparts, the Gen Zers.  The book does a good job of explaining how a younger worker sees the business world, and it is insightful to learn about Gen Y's work styles and those of the other age groups.  

Promote Yourself does serve as a field guide to the young business candidate who needs to understand the work world and how to stand out in it, but I think the information in it transcends the generation monikers and is insightful for anyone.  And the information and recommendations in the book do not just revolve around the business world.  Promote Yourself gives the reader thoughts on building your personal brand, gaining visibility with people that can be advocates for you, being a smart protege and mentor, and the idea of being an entrepreneur/intrapreneur and how to build that into your career.

Ok, so Dan Schawbel may have had me at the title, Promote Yourself:  The New Rules for Career Success, given what I write about on this blog, but his book is a smooth read, has insightful anecdotes, is well researched and gives informative data and case studies.  And I think Dan Schawbel talks the talk and walks the walk.  I get a lot of pitches about books, events, etc. and most of the time I can just send them to the trash folder and no one is the wiser.  But from day one Dan followed up with me and asked me to read his book.  He did it in a very friendly, non-confrontational way, and kept following up.  I love follow-up, think it is many people's key (or lock) to success, and was pleased to see that Dan addressed it in his book, and followed up with me.

Promote Yourself is my first interaction with Dan Schawbel, but reading his book and his website:  Dan Schawbel, now I know he already is a best selling author, successful entrepreneur and a columnist at TIME and FORBES.  I'm sure I've read some of his articles --and am glad he promoted himself to me.

I highly recommend that the Gen Y's out there read this book, and also to all my readers who want to see how to navigate today's work world and to build a highly successful personal brand.  It takes work, but it is definitely worth it.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Related Skype Articles to Read

After posting my survival guide to Skype interviews, I thought these other articles might be helpful for my readers.  Take a look at these tips:

How to Handle a Job Interview Over Skype

Seeking Work? Ready Your Webcam

A Good Impression on Skype

WineTalent's Skype Interview Survival Guide (For Interviewers and Interviewees)

Over the years I've conducted a lot of video interviews over Skype.  The technology is relatively easy to use, free unless you want a subscription or wish to use skype for calling, and has improved dramatically over the last few years.

Now, if you are a casual Skype user, you probably know how to use it, make video calls and send messages.  This user guide can come in handy for you and might allow you to catch yourself in some bad habits.  For first time users I hope I can address all the steps and also give you some pointers to make the video call more comfortable and useful.

So, to set up an account, go to and download the software if you don't have it on my computer or tablet already.  Once you download the software you will need to set up an account.  Your account name will be the name people use to find you on Skype.  Since there are not a lot of people with the name of WineTalent, I was able to secure that account name.  You will want to add your name, email and phone number for people in case they need to reach you when not on Skype.

Once you have your account name, you will go to your contacts section and find people you are going to Skype with.  If you are using Windows 8, it is a bit hard to find the contacts, so click on People, and then right click on the screen and you can search for Skype users to find them.  When you have found your video interview contact, send them a contacts request to establish a connection.  The default setting is to have yourself always online.  I don't use Skype consistently enough, so I take myself offline when I'm not planning to be using it.

When you set up your Skype account the software will walk you through setting up your audio and video equipment.  It is very user friendly, and quick to do.  This test set-up also let's you see the camera angle and the audio quality, so play around with it until the video setting looks good.

In the past it was best to have a hardwired internet connection--but the last few video calls I have done completely wireless and the quality was very good.  Do a test run to see how the call quality is--and if you have to plug into your wireless router to improve the transmission.

Now, I think you should try to have a good backdrop when you skype.  As I type this I am staring at my computer screen, looking at my desk.  I've got all my desk accessories, my files and all those things a real desk has.  But when someone will be seeing me through this computer, the view is completely different.  For this reason, when I plan to do a skype call I take the background into consideration.  And with that, I put my computer on my credenza so it is shooting the video into my desk for a backdrop.

Too often when people set up their Skype picture they are either shooting up at the ceiling (with ceiling fan turning, turning, turning during the call)
Or with a big blank wall and too close
Then there is the lighting.  Put on all the lights you can that will hit you from the front instead of behind you (can get quite ghostly--hopefully that's not the look you are going for)
Then, think about how you look. Do you really want to look like you are working from home, or that you happened to stop in to this video conference from your other highly important meetings.

So, now you are dolled up in your blazer, your hair's combed and you have all the lights on in your office. 

Make the call

First, I like to send a message to my interviewee about 10 minutes prior to saying that I will be calling him at our prearranged time.  That let's him know I am getting ready, and that he should be doing likewise. I also say that it will be a video call so he is prepared.  Then close the office door, silence any phones or other electronics and place the video call to him at the correct time.  

As soon as you are hooked up by video, you are "on stage" so remember that.  Don't be messing around with things behind your computer, moving a bunch of papers around or forgetting the camera is on.  I'm not a pro at where to look, so I just look at the person's picture as if I'm talking to him.  My point of focus might be off, but it's better than having your eyes dart all over the screen.  

WineTalent's Skype Pointers 
1.  Don't make jokes.  I have to remember this because I tend to make jokes at the beginning of interviews to break the ice.  On a video call, sometimes there is a bit of a time lag, and so when the other person is responding to the joke you may have moved on to a new topic, making the response really awkward.  Remember this, no jokes.
2.  What am I looking at:  If I'm going to be having his resume on the screen besides the video call, I tell him.  That way he understands why my attention might drift to a different part of the screen.  
3.  What I'm doing:  If I'm planning to take notes while conducting the call, I tell him that too.  I often have my tablet on my desk below the camera, so this could look odd if he didn't know I was taking notes.
4.  Don't forget that you are on stage:  Remember that you are on a video call and not just sitting in front of your computer.  This might seem like a strange idea, but too often when you are skyping you revert back to thinking you are just sitting in front of your computer.  Wiping your eyes, scratching your head, yawning...These are all things we do when we sit in front of our desk, but if we were really in an interview we would most likely not do.  Remember you are on camera, behave appropriately.
5.  Experiencing Technical Difficulties:  If there are any technical problems, you can send a skype message, call the person on his phone, or drop the call and retry.  If the quality of the skype call is bad I often abandon the video interview and switch to a phone interview.  You have the time blocked out, use it wisely.  
6.  Ending the Video Call:  When you are done with the call, thank the other person and let him know you are ending the call.  You'll have to hit the end call button, which always is a bit awkward, but it has to be done.  I often send a quick message afterwards thanking the other participant for the video call.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Breakfast Seminar: Ten Steps to Navigate the Muddy Waters of the Affordable Care Act

For those of you looking for information on how to respond to the Affordable Care Act, this could be a very informative seminar to attend. Barbara Cotter of Sacramento law firm Cook Brown will be presenting a step by step guide for employers.  If you can make it, I'll see you there.

Ten Steps to Navigate the
of the
Affordable Care Act

A Sacramento Breakfast Forum Presented by Attorney Barbara Cotter

Employers are increasingly uncertain about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and its numerous obligations.   With California's insurance exchange set to open October 1, 2013, now is the ideal time to address those concerns.  Cook Brown has prepared a step by step guide to help employers master the nation's new insurance requirements.   This forum will highlight critical deadlines and provide concrete compliance tips for employers, supervisors, and HR staff.     

WHEN:     Thursday, September 26, 2013
                   8:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.  
           (Registration & Continental Breakfast)
                   9:00 a.m. - 10:15 a.m.  

WHERE:  The Firehouse Restaurant
                  1112 2nd Street
                  (Old) Sacramento, CA 95814
                  Telephone: (916) 442-4772

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Wine Country Jobs: Cowboy, Farmer and a Personnel Assistant

 Just when I thought I'd developed a robust database, my client threw out these roles he needs filled.  These roles are in Napa County at a family owned and operated winery and farming operations.

Wrangler:  Will work on ranches in Napa and Marin counties on horseback driving cattle and managing livestock.  

Organic Farmer:  Will work for the company growing produce for restaurant clients and farmer market sales.  Organic, sustainable practices used for row crops and orchards.   

Personnel Assistant:  Part-time to full-time opportunity with flexible scheduling.  Will assist
with company's staff in HR and benefits sign-ups and weekly time card preparation and submission.  Will help employees with decisions about insurance and ensure proper applications are submitted in a timely manner and any issues are resolved regarding pay, hours and/or benefits.  English-Spanish fluency required.  

Contact me if you'd like to find out more.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Book Review: Introvert Power

I've decided this week that I'm now officially going to consider myself an extrovert, while still holding onto my introverted thought processes. Having previously discussed thoughts about power postures and how to present yourself in public, I often promote the idea of appearing to be an extrovert. And this week in the WSJ there was an interesting article: How an Introvert Can Be Happier: Act Like and Extrovert.  Well, I want to be happy, so I'll gladly act like an extrovert.

Several months ago I read the book Quiet:  The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking which did a good job of looking at American society and the role personality plays within it. Following on this I read Laurie Helgoe's second edition of  Introvert Power:  Why Your Inner Life is Your Hidden Strength.  Laurie's book discusses the introvert's personality strengths, how to be proud of them and how to use those strengths to your advantage.  

If you are examining how you perceive yourself and how you are perceived, it would be a good book to read.  Laurie uses many personal stories to relate to her topic.  She also has some helpful advice on how to nurture your inner self to find your strengths and how to translate them into social situations.  It could help you use your internal resources in situations where you need to make your strengths known--be it in interviews, networking events or public presentations.  Introvert Power also gives introverts and extroverts the ability to better understand each other.  Power to the Introverts and Extroverts alike!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Job Posting: Winery Accountant

WineTalent is currently working with our winery client in the Napa Valley to find an Accountant.  The Accountant will be a key contributor to the winery business and will provide exemplary customer service to the winery management team, the winery's business partners and customers.  
The Accountant will be responsible for the financial reporting, accounts payable, accounts receivable, and other general accounting functions following generally accepted accounting practices, adhering to the policies and procedures of the winery.

  • Hold accountability for the preparation of monthly financials including handling the month end-close process.
  • Posting all required monthly journal entries, reconcile inventory in multiple locations, reconcile other balance sheet accounts as required, and perform overhead allocations.
  • Reporting on any significant budget variances.
  • Manage daily accounting tasks including: Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, Payroll, Bank reconciliations, daily banking tasks.
  • Manage all accounting aspects of Human Resources for the winery including PTO tracking, EDD reporting, workers compensation management and policy development.
  • Process and reconcile monthly, quarterly and year-end payroll tax payments and reports.
  • Monitor, track and report on all required external compliance including wine compliance, water system compliance, TOT reporting, sales tax returns, etc.
  • Minimum of 3 years of experience in payroll processing and general ledger accounting practices.
  • Winery specific accounting experience desirable.
  • Bachelor’s degree in Accounting, Finance, Business or related discipline.  CPA preferred.
  • In-depth knowledge of Quickbooks required.
  • Proficient in MS Excel and MS Office including Powerpoint.

Interested in applying?  Please visit and apply.


Monday, July 8, 2013

Cranky Recruiter: Stood Up for the Interview

Oh, hey, just back from driving for an hour, waiting around for an hour and driving back for an hour.  So that would be about 3 hours, give or take, of wasted time.  What was I thinking?--I made an appointment to interview someone last week, showed up at our arranged meeting spot, and he wasn't there.  I called, emailed, and haven't heard back.

This was an interview for a highly technical position, and it is hard to find qualified candidates for it.  Having that resume show up in my inbox was a thrill by itself.  Quickly I called him, did a phone interview, and with everything looking promising we booked an interview.

Then the doubts started creeping up.  I was rereading his resume and cover letter and there were inconsistencies.  He mentioned working at one company on his cover letter and on his resume another company was referenced.  Hmm, well that's something to ask about at the interview--maybe he was a subcontractor--maybe.

The second red flag was that this guy, who is a technically skilled winery professional, has been out of work for the last year.  When searching for people in this field, they are snatched up almost immediately when they are in the job market.  Hmm, what's up with this guy?

Oh yeah, and the guy of course suffered from TMI--giving too much information during our phone call.  Marital status, kids, bad previous employers, etc.  Good to know, but it was a bit of a sob story.

Ignoring these red flags I booked our interview.  While figuring out a spot to meet he mentioned that there was a good bar around the corner.  Hmmm, always good to know where the bar is--but not for an interview.

While sitting around waiting for him to show, I thought it made sense to send him a quick email.  Here's when I noticed his email address was a reference to alcohol.  Hmm, maybe I should worry about drinking on the job?  Maybe about missing work due to being on a bender? Or better yet, missing this interview because you didn't wake up this morning.

I'll now make sure not to miss any red flags, and trust my gut instincts.  The motto of a good recruiter, "Trust your gut!"  Now onto those other promising candidates.  Hope they didn't take a job during the time wasted waiting around for Mr. Fillerupbarkeep.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Job Posting: Red Wine Cellarmaster

WineTalent is working with our client in the Napa Valley to find a Cellarmaster to handle the red wine program.  This position is located at the estate winery and will be handling the winery's red wine winemaking and assisting with production needs for the white wine program.  The winery is a family-owned operation with extensive farming operations.


  • Assist with white wine program including crush, fermentation, racking, fining and bottling
  • Manage red wine program including crush, fermentation, racking, fining and bottling
  • Manage red wine barrel program
  • Handle cellar sanitation and maintenance
  • Assist with research projects
  • Collaborate with staff members on winery quality improvement projects and research trials
  • Help out as needed with special projects including olive oil production and farming projects.


  • Bachelor's degree in Enology, Viticulture, Food Science or related science. 
  • At least two years of wine industry experience.
  • Strong understanding of quality production procedures
  • Ability to move barrels (up to 75 pounds) and perform physically demanding cellar work
  • Experience with cellar sanitation procedures 
  • Fluency in Spanish desirable
  • Ability to drive a forklift and drive a manual transmission truck as needed

If you are interested in this role, please contact WineTalent, 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Why Didn't You Get the Job? No One Will Tell You

Yesterday this article was in the Wall Street Journal:  Didn't Get the Job? You'll Never Know Why.  Lauren Weber explores what it feels like to be the interviewee, thinking that you did really well in the meeting and thought you were a shoe in for the job, only to finally find out you didn't get the job, and that the company went with someone who was better suited for the role. As the job seeker, this really doesn't allow you to learn what your weakness was and improve on it.  

Often as the interviewer, I know that there are certain things that arise during the discussion that cause a candidate to fall out of consideration. These can be big things, like the resume didn't accurately represent the person's experience or that the person's salary requirements were out of whack.   Sometimes they are little things, like a candidate arriving late to an interview, having vague answers to questions or not seeming engaged in the interviewing process.  And sometimes it is something you can't put your finger on.  Yes, it happens.

So, if you were just interviewed, you probably want to know what the reason was that you didn't get the job.  Of course if you don't ask you can't find out, but even if you do ask, often you will get vague generalizations about why you were not hired.  They decided to hire someone with more specific experience, the chosen candidate had significant academic credentials, the position has changed and the hired person was better suited for the role.  OK, these are real reasons, but were they THE reason.  

Interviewers and companies are reluctant to answer specific questions about why someone wasn't hired because they want to limit their exposure to lawsuits.  If you were to learn that you were not hired because the company thought you were planning on starting a family--or looked like you were pregnant--you may have cause for a discrimination lawsuit.  Looking at it from the company's perspective, if they did have a woman interview who was clearly in her final month of pregnancy, isn't it fair for them to think that the work they need done now would somehow suffer while she's on maternity leave?  So they don't hire her, and say they chose someone with more experience, etc., etc. 

How would you feel if you didn't get the job because your belt and shoes didn't match or your tie was too skinny.  Who even looks at that nowadays?  Well, sometimes it is little things like that which stick in an interviewer's mind after the interview and raise questions.  I know it seems trivial, but that little nagging question has a way of derailing a candidacy.  If I was to say that you didn't get the job because of this mismatch--wouldn't you feel offended?  Wouldn't you want to scream at me that I'm being childish and that I don't understand that you are the ideal person for this role?  Of Course. So what can an interviewer say?  The interviewer gives you a platitude and says better luck next time.

Ok, so you've been interviewing and are always the runner-up.  What can you do to find out what works and what doesn't?  The article mentions a program that HireArt put in place.  HireArt's co-founder offered to give people 15 minute mock interviews and give them true assessments.  Not everyone was happy with the feedback they got, but HireArt has found that the assessments are very popular and are continuing to offer them periodically to job seekers that they are working with.

Last year I got a call out of the blue from a father whose son was just wrapping up his Bachelor's Degree in Business.  The father asked if I would be willing to do a mock interview and provide feedback to the son.  I was game, and met with the son for an hour about a fictitious job I had presented to him.  Afterwards we did a 30 minute recap.  I will say that it was an interesting meeting, and I was happy that the son was really engaged in the process.  I put my notes together and sent it to the son and father afterwards, including some stuff that may have been easier to put in writing than to say in person.  Yes, dad, he should cut off the ponytail if he's looking to work in a more conservative setting.  But he was really professional and gave spot on answers.  The family and I have stayed in touch, and now the son is working within the wine industry, gainfully employed.  

Knowing the potential for lawsuits, you have to understand if companies don't give out specifics about why you weren't the one hired.  Maybe I'll get a release of liability from job seekers and just tell them what they really need to hear......

Friday, May 10, 2013

Be a Poser: Learn something from Wonder Woman and Amy Cuddy.

I was sitting at my Cardiologist's office last month and got a clean bill of health.  I just gotta cut back on the espressos.  He also prescribed to watch a TED Talk about posture.  Hmmm, was this going to keep my ticker ticking?  Well, doctor's orders, so finally this morning I filled that prescription and took a look at Amy Cuddy's Ted Talk: Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are.

Amy Cuddy did research on "faking it till you make it", which studies how our nonverbal posturing affects how others perceive us.  The idea was that if you exhibit a power pose people will think of you as more powerful.  Her studies showed that test subjects hormones changed based on their posture.  Power posers were found to have high testosterone and low cortisol (that dreaded stress hormone).

Furthering her research, she had test subjects go into an interview, where the interviewer had absolutely no emotional feedback during the interview (the interviewer was deadpan for the 5 minute interview).  This is thought of as one of the most stressful business situations most people may ever encounter.  During the interview the subjects were either exhibiting a power posture or a nonthreatening pose.  Later the interviews were screened for various factors.  The results were that the interviewees who were exhibiting power postures were found to have great presence and thought of as very competent for the job.  It wasn't about knowledge or talent, strictly about the pose they took during the interview.

Cuddy's recommendation is for you to embody a power pose.  Strike a pose like Wonder Woman.  If it is in the bathroom before the interview--great, do it.  If it is while you are on a phone interview with a potential employer, do it.  Amy Cuddy recommends everyone to do little tweaks to their posture to get big results.  Think about what pose you strike when you are interacting with others--and find out how to make it a more confident one.

And for all you future interviewees out there, another recommendation I love is this:  Before your next interview, with a thick marker, write on your underwear "I AM THE BEST".   (Read Dan Ariely's full advice here.)

Go Get Em!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Beware the Blind Box Ad

Are you a successful wine industry professional who is gainfully employed but maybe just a smidge unhappy?  Are you passively looking for a new job, needing to keep your interest in changing jobs very, very confidential?  Well, BEWARE the blind box ad.

Yes, it looks innocent enough.  Calls out all of your strengths and says all of your weaknesses are personality characteristics that they crave on their team.  It is located 5 miles from your front door, and allows you to travel as much or as little as you desire.  It spells out the company's commitment to making hand-crafted, magical wines that are accessible to all, fly off the shelves and provide you with a handsome bonus.   And the pay is more than you thought possible.

So apply already.  What's stopping you?  Oh, yeah, maybe that blind box ad is really posted by your current employer.  It might be a bit awkward to explain why you were looking at the job boards when you should be  working diligently for your boss.  Well, mistakes can be made and your boss will slap you on the back and say "We can always laugh about this later."  On the flip side, she may see your resume come across her desk and not tell you she knows you are looking--and quietly plan on replacing you.

Well, that would be bad.  So beware job seekers, and think before you hit send to a blind box ad.  I would recommend not submitting your resume to the position and instead see if you can find out who is looking for a new employee.   Talk to your trusted friends in the industry to see if they have heard about any new jobs out there.  Look on the websites of the companies you think it might be.  Although they posted a blink box ad, they may have the same opening on their job board.  Job postings on and other sites are very public postings, so sometimes companies put a blind box out there so they can quietly screen through candidates without any direct phone calls or other distractions during the hiring process.  While hundreds of people look at daily, probably a handful of job seekers will go to each individual winery's website job listings.

Employer Anonymity:  For the employer a blind box does offer a lot of anonymity.   But is that really what you want.  Haven't you built up your reputation over time and made your company a place people want to work.  So how will someone know that when they see a blind box ad.  You may be missing a lot of great talent who won't consider applying to a company they don't know.  If you can handle the publicity, list your company in the ad.

My Circumstances:  Ironically, when I post an ad WineTalent gets top billing, but my client's information is kept confidential.  As a recruiter, a service I provide to my client is to handle all of the candidate communications at the beginning of the search process.  I want to talk to as many people as possible for each job, and that's what my clients expect.  But all too often, when I have permission to list my client's name on a public job posting, a sly job seeker will  have the brilliant idea of contacting the client directly.  Unfortunately, this never moves that brilliant candidate to the top of the list, but instead to the bottom of the wastebasket.

Double Agent, But Not Doublecrossing:  You might ask, "If WineTalent is keeping the client confidential, what happens if I apply to a job with WineTalent that is actually for my current employer?"  All communications between WineTalent and either my candidates or my clients are confidential between the two of us.  I put my pledge of confidentiality on my website, and stand behind it.  I want your interactions with WineTalent to benefit your career, not adversely affect it.  And I want my clients to feel comfortable discussing their unique situations without fear of others finding out about them.   It can be a delicate balancing act, but an act that provides the best outcome for everyone.

This post could become a plug for recruiters.  We help job seekers keep their search confidential, and we provide confidentiality to our clients who are needing to bring in new talent.  Maybe that's why we recruiters are still needed in today's world, and most likely tomorrow's as well.  Happy Searching Everyone!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

WineTalent Job Posting: Controller for St. Helena Winery

Job Title:  Controller
Employment Type:  Regular, Full-Time
Salary:  Dependent on Experience
Job Location:  St. Helena, CA

Job Description:  WineTalent is conducting a search for a Controller for a Napa Valley winery.
Reporting to the President, the Controller will be responsible for the financial reporting, accounts payable, accounts receivable, and other general accounting functions for a winery group in the Napa Valley. This individual will interact closely with the President and other members of the management team, as well as outside auditors.  The Controller will follow generally accepted accounting practices, adhering to the policies and procedures of each of the legal entities. The Controller will manage a team of unit accountants, providing service and support for all business entities. 

Responsibilities Include:
·         Preparation of monthly financials including handling the month end-close process.
o    Post all required monthly journal entries, reconcile inventory in multiple locations, reconcile other balance sheet accounts as required, and perform overhead allocations.
o    Report on any significant budget variances.
·         Manage daily accounting tasks including: Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, Payroll, Bank reconciliations, daily banking tasks.
·         Manage all accounting aspects of Human Resources for the winery including PTO tracking, EDD reporting, workers compensation management and policy development
·         Running commission and bonus reports and providing data for payroll
·         Monitor, track and report on all required external compliance including wine compliance, water system compliance, TOT reporting, sales tax returns, etc.
·         Assist in providing information for the budgeting/reforecasting process and the cash forecasting process.
·         Manage and be responsible for timely and accurate monthly, quarterly and year-end closing cycles
·         Preparation of financial reports for quarterly board meetings. 
·         Evaluate, recommend and implement policies, procedures and systems related to company efficiency, productivity and internal controls
Experience Required: 
·         Bachelor’s degree in Accounting or Business Administration.  MBA desirable
·         A minimum 5 years of industry experience in Finance and minimum 2 years’ experience at a Controller level or higher
·         CPA Preferred
·         Advanced MS Excel skills
·         Extensive experience with QuickBooks required.  Prior experience implementing new accounting software system required. 

Application Process:  Please email resume to  

Monday, May 6, 2013

WineTalent's Upcoming Webinar: WAGES & WINE: Making sure your blend of pay practices complies with California law.

Next week WineTalent will be teaming up with Attorney Barbara Cotter, Partner of the employment law firm Cook Brown LLP to present a webinar about pay practices in the wine industry.  We will be presenting an overview of roles in the wine industry, discussing classifications of employment (salary, hourly, executive, management, consultant, contractor) and providing some case studies from real world situations.  If you are hiring or managing employees or consultants in the wine industry this webinar will provide you with useful information.  Stay on top of employment issues and up to date on new legislation.  We will also be having a question and answer session at the end in case you have specific issues you need addressed.    I hope you can join us.

WAGES & WINE: Making sure your blend of pay practices complies with California law.
Join us for a webinar on May 15, 2013 at 9:00 AM PDT.

Attorney and Cook Brown LLP partner Barbara Cotter teams up with wine industry recruiter and WineTalent President Amy Gardner in discussing compensation issues confronting the wine industry employer. Attendees will be provided with a convenient checklist, a primer on wage and hour law for the wine industry, and a common sense guide that will answer a multitude of questions such as:

1. How do you classify employees correctly under California law?
2. What happens to an employer when an employee is misclassified?
3. What constitutes a salaried position? An hourly position?
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Are You a Winemaking Consultant? You May Want to Read this Article

Over the years I have been involved in lots of wine industry roundtables, seminars and networking sessions, and have learned that people don't like to talk money.  This was evident a few years ago when I sat in on a winemaking consulting session at the Unified Symposium, and while everyone was talking about how to be a consultant and why companies would hire a consultant, when the issue of consulting fees came up, the group was silent.  There wasn't any information about consulting rates, how fees were structured, or how to bill customers.  And if you've read this blog before, you know I think people should know what things cost out there and the value of their own time.  So, if you are a winemaking consultant, you need to read this article in the Wall Street Journal.  Hope it is helpful.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Cranky Recruiter: Just tell me what you are making.

Asking a friend at a social gathering "How much do you make?" most likely will make him very uncomfortable.  We all know how much we make--often down to the penny.  Lucky folks out there can say how much they will be making this coming year and the following one.  Sales people and self-employed people can always hope for a stellar year, and have a good idea where their compensation will likely come in at.

I think I ask people about 5 times a day how much they make.  For me it is a benchmark on where they are coming in for a position I'm recruiting on.  If their pay is lower than I expect, I wonder why they aren't making more money--but also think that they may be very interested in moving to a better paying company.  If their pay corresponds to what they should be making, I'm happy and move forward with the discussion.  If their pay is significantly higher than I expected, I'll dig a bit deeper to find out about their salary history, their responsibilities, and what types of roles they want to move into next.  

With all this discussion about salary, I am quite numb to the fact that most people rarely discuss their compensation.  Thinking it over, it probably makes others a little unnerved to talk about money with a stranger.   You immediately think, should I say what I am really making, should I inflate the number to look better, should I tell them to stick it?  Hopefully when you have this question come up there is a reason--a new job opportunity, a raise or a promotion.  What should you do when someone asks you how much you make?  Well, I appreciate the truth.  If you tell me how much you are making, and include any bonuses, commissions and perks, we'll have a baseline to work from.   I won't use this information against you, and will always gain your approval in discussing any compensation information with a potential employer.

Last year I was working on some wine sales roles.  I had reached out to a Director of Sales with a winery group.  Her first sentence to me was "I don't mean to sound arrogant, but you probably can't afford me."  What a breath of fresh air.  I told her I wish everyone would approach it this way--and asked what she needed to make.  Well, unfortunately she was right, I couldn't afford her.  She also wouldn't have been right for the role.  With job titles often being different from company to company, her title didn't convey how expansive a role she had.  My sales role would have been something she had done 15 years ago.  On that same recruitment I was talking with a VP of Sales for a boutique winery and his salary was half of that first gal's, and below the pay range my position was paying.  Once he and I discussed his current role, I found out that the winery was using brokers in most states, and the sales role wasn't as involved as it would have been at some other wineries.  He was highly involved in the winery's hospitality and marketing programs and has excellent experience in that area.  The role I had would have required a lot of travel, and this was something he did not want.  Both of these people are great contacts for me to work with, and now that I know where their compensation is coming in, I can approach them about the right roles.

When you are talking with a recruiter, or a potential hiring manager, lay it out about what you are making now, and what you would need to take a new job.  Speaking from a position of truth gives you a firm foundation to discuss compensation, and allows you to discuss different compensation scenarios with your future employer.  

And make sure you visit Wine Business Monthly's 2012 Salary Survey for specifics on wine biz salaries.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

How Will You Measure Your Life? WineTalent Book Review

What a great question, "How Will You Measure Your Life?"  Earlier this year I read some information written by Clayton Christensen and decided to read his recent book, that James Allworth and Karen Dillon contributed on.  The premise of the book is that Dr. Christensen, Professor at Harvard Business School, witnessed in his own life highly successful business people who seemed to lack a winning strategy for their personal lives.  Using business case studies and personal anecdotes, the authors examine business and personal challenges and outcomes.

Being somewhat of a management book junkie, I couldn't pass up a book written by the Harvard Business School's Professor, a HBS alum and the former editor of the Harvard Business Review.  This book outlines business successes and failures, and relates them to personal decisions and dynamics.  How Honda miscalculated the US motorcycle market and unwittingly brought the sport of motocross to us might not seem like a personal life lesson--but Christensen relates this example to his own life decisions.  What do highly technical, pocket-sized ultrasound machines have to do with personal time management?  I hadn't really connected the dots until reading this book.

The authors do a great job of dissecting business world situations and determining the root cause.  They also use similar methods to view personal situations and determine potentially successful strategies.  Yes, while Apple computer or IBM should look at some business case studies to realign their own businesses, so could many people look at their own decisions and determine what is working and what isn't--and make intelligent changes.  The idea of the book is to have an overriding strategy--perhaps a book of rules--for how to live your life.  By keeping these commandments true during your work life and your personal life you can stay true to yourself, your family and your community.  It was refreshing to read insights from highly successful business people that involved ethics, morality and personal happiness.

I would recommend this book to people who enjoy gleaning insights about how companies work, but who also like to be introspective and perhaps create their own way of managing their personal life.  If you are only looking at a self-help book that tells you how to do it, the business case studies may get in the way.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Is an MBA Worth it?

Ok, so maybe I'm a slacker, but I never went back to school after getting my bachelor's degree.  I often am doing searches for people with advanced degrees, one of which is an MBA.  I do think an MBA can be a valuable asset in your career.  But if you are on the fence about how to advance your career, take a look at this article by Dale Stephens who just published the book "Hacking Your Education".  He dissects the cost of an MBA, quickly and effectively, and explains what it might get you.  I am going to get that book for my high school children too.

How To Get A Job In The Beverage Industry (VIDEO)

How To Get A Job In The Beverage Industry (VIDEO)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Job I'm Working On: Southern California Sales Manager

Trying something new readers.  In an effort to get the word out about my searches I'm posting them here.  We'll see how this goes.

WineTalent is seeking a Southern California Sales Manager to represent a California producer in the southern part of the state.  The position requires someone with 5+ years of wine sales experience with good distributor management experience.  Strong understanding of pricing, programming and goal setting is required.  Bachelor's degree in Business, Communication, Marketing, Finance or related desired.  This person will be responsible for overseeing all sales activities in the market including chain, key accounts, retail and on-premise.  There is personnel management required for the market, so the Sales Manager must have proven supervisory experience.  Strong wine knowledge and excellent relationship building skills required.

Interested in this position?  Please visit WineTalent to find out about the process and to apply.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Wine studies grow at Napa Valley College

I've mentioned Napa Valley College's wine program before, and recommend NVC, Sonoma State and Santa Rosa Junior College for anyone wanting to get some great wine knowledge.  All of these campuses have great instructors who have real world experience.  Some others are Allan Hancock down south.  Of course I need to mention the big guys, CSU San Luis Obispo, CSU Fresno and last but not least, UC Davis.

Here's Paul Franson's recent article in the Napa Register about NVC:  Wine studies grow at Napa Valley College

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cranky Recruiter: Show Your Strengths

Pow : Comic Book IllustrationUh-oh, here's Cranky Recruiter digging in after a long holiday weekend.  May spell trouble for some job hunters out there.

Ok, so I've wrapped up working on some marketing roles recently and am struck by the fact that so many marketing resumes are so blah.  Often I see sales resumes that are pretty blah and I think that they probably know how to sell things but rely on a good marketer to come up with the collateral.  But a marketer with a boring resume.  It seems to scream poor marketing skills.

Everyone says you should do what you love.  If I was to become a marketer, I think I would love to market things.  If I was in the hunt for a job, I think my number one goal would be to market myself.  First I'd throw away those old versions of my resume, sit down at my creativity inducing desk/table/park bench and brainstorm what I should be branding myself as.  Do I want to be a packaging guru?  Then I had better have a resume that packs a visual punch.  Do I want to be the strategic marketer who can develop an entire program for my future company?  Well I had better have a logically laid out resume that reflects the tactical nature of my expertise.  Am I a technical expert?  My resume had better scream tech wizardry while explaining some highly involved expertise in plain old English. 

This may all seem simple, but this Cranky Recruiter has to slog through boring black and white, Times New Roman resumes all day long.  Occasionally I get a glimpse of color--but all too often it is just the hyperlink blue on an email address.

What wakes me up and makes me notice a resume?  Give me logos.  Did you work at Clorox Company--ooh, put the logo on it for easy recognition.  Were you the lead manager on the revamp of The Gap's marketing campaign--show me some of that classic "Gap" style and make it easy for me to figure out what you did.  Be a little creative--especially if you are in a more creative realm of marketing.  Isn't that the real goal of a marketer--making someone quickly understand why they should want and need the product they are marketing? 

So am I just going after marketers today?  No.  I think this is relevant to every job seeker.  Every resume needs to be factual, but it is also a marketing piece for you.  Do you want to be like every other job seeker out there and hope that your resume, which is one of 100's a hiring manager receives, gets a second look?  I hope not.  So put some time into it and make it reflect you. 

Lastly, get consumer input.  Pass it by someone before you send out your awe-inspiring resume.  Often a friend can spot typos that you've missed over and over.  And yes, you may get some other advice about changes you should make.  Maybe get a few people's advice on the resume and go for the consensus version.   I do often say that you need to take all resume advice with a grain of salt.  People are quick to give advice, but you need to write a resume you are comfortable with.  So, dear reader, take this advice for what it is worth.  Back to the inbox.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Job Seekers Beware: Identity Theft

When you are looking for a job you are thrilled when someone contacts you and wants to interview you for a position.  And as a potential employee, you often don't know what information you should and shouldn't share with a recruiter or hiring manager.  With unemployment running at a high level, if you are looking for a job you may feel that you need to be as helpful and as easy to deal with as possible in the hopes of landing a job.  This is just the way some identify thieves like it.

In the October 2012 issue of Consumer Reports they profiled "America's Worst Scams".  #14 was about ID thieves posing as recruiters to get job seeker's personal information. The article discussed job seekers who were using online job search applications being approached by a "recruiter" who was looking to fill jobs at companies nearby. The ID theives posed as recruiters and conducted interviews in public places with these people, having them fill out detailed job applications which included name, date of birth, address, and Social Security number.  These job applicants later went to the local company as directed by the recruiter, only to learn that there were no openings and that the recruiters were not associated with the company at all.

We all think we are too smart to fall for a scam, but ID thieves can be pretty clever.  While I am sure the majority of meetings you would have with a recruiter would be above board, I think you should always be cautious about sharing your personal information.

As a job seeker this is the information you should share:
1.  Your name
2.  Your phone number
3.  Your email address
4.  Your home city, state and zip code
5.  Your work experience
6.  Your education level/degree

If you are sending in a resume, you should make sure you have that information included.  Often people put their home address, and while this is the convention, I believe you can keep this off of your resume.  A potential employer can request this of you as needed.

This is information you should never share unless it is a true employment application or offer of employment:
1.  Your Social Security Number

And beware if these questions are asked:
1.  Your mother's maiden name
2.  Your bank account information
3.  The make of your first car
4.  Your first pet's name.
Ok, maybe I am thinking about all the things you may use as your password on those last ones, but do try to keep personal information private so that ID thieves cannot use it.

So, what do you do when that friendly recruiter approaches you for an interview in a public location?  Well, first of all do your homework.  Is she really who she says she is?  Does she have a website?  Did she give you information about the job she is currently hiring for?  Have you ever heard of her before?

If you are feeling confident that this meeting may lead to a job or be good for your job search, plan on meeting her.  Beware if she puts a lengthy job application in front of you that asks for your mother's maiden name, any aliases you have ever used and your Social Security number.  If she shows up and has inconsistencies between what you talked about on the phone and what she is discussing during the meeting, keep your personal information as tightly guarded as possible. 

As a job hunter you want to be easy to interact with.  But don't be taken advantage of by those who prey on people in tough circumstances.  Keep your guard up and try to figure out if it is a real opportunity or a "phishing expedition".

Good luck out there folks!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Book Review: Margrit Mondavi's Sketchbook

Last spring I had the pleasure of sitting down for lunch with Margrit Mondavi.  She graciously agreed to be interviewed for this blog.  (Please visit the Post here).  During a wonderful lunch at Robert Mondavi winery she shared her experiences in the wine industry.

Recently Margrit published "Margrit Mondavi's Sketchbook" with Janet Fletcher.  It is a beautifully illustrated recollection of her life.  She shares her passion for life, her love of her family and friends, and her interests in art, food and culture. 

The book is a great reflection on her past.  She talks about her childhood and her young married life, being a young Swiss bride married to a U.S. Army Officer.  She also explains her involvement in the Napa cultural scene; bringing art and music to the local schools and hosting concerts at wineries, both at Charles Krug Winery and then the highly successful concert series at Robert Mondavi Winery.  Learning about her upbringing you can understand her culture shock living in different locations as a young bride and young mother.  Getting to know about her life-long love of art and music you can appreciate her involvement in the art programs at the Robert Mondavi Winery and also the many charitable donations she and Robert gave in support of the arts.

Of course no book by Margrit would be complete without Robert, and she gracefully explains her relationship with the love of her life.  It was touching to understand the deep love they had for each other, and also get a glimpse at the strong bond they had.  Hearing about their travels and the way they were completely engaged with each other's lives, hopes and dreams is a wonderful love story.

And if you are learning about Robert and Margrit, there must be talk about good food and wine.  The book details many of the great wine events they were involved with.  The partnerships they made and the dedication they had to the California wine industry was very informative.  I enjoyed learning about the Great Chef's cooking school, which was also a bit amusing.  I also really enjoyed the hand-painted menus that were included in the book.  It would not be a complete memoir of their love of food and wine without a few recipes thrown in. 

Margrit's artwork is included throughout, brightening up the pages.  There are also wonderful reminiscences by her friends and family, painting more detailed pictures of her life and influence.

Margrit is a very joyful person, who surrounds herself with beauty.  She is aging gracefully, still involved in so many endeavors, and savoring every minute of it.  This book is a joyous reflection of her.