Friday, March 21, 2008

Blog Watch: How to Get a Job in the Wine Industry

I was just doing some ego-Googling (or is it egoogling) and looked at search queries that people put in to Google to find my blog. I noticed that most of my readers find me from Google searches for wine job advice. So, I put some queries into google as well--and came up with a very informative blog from Tom Wark's Fermentation: The Daily Wine Blog. The posting is from 2006, but as relevant as ever. I'll keep finding appropriate links for you.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Cranky Recruiter: Formatting Resumes

Yes, looking over lots of resumes again, and again I'm cranky--funny how that works. As my blog implies, here is some career advice in the wine industry--don't format your resume in Adobe Acrobat. Although it is a beautiful resume, it is cumbersome for my database--and when I have 20 resumes filling my inbox every hour, I want resumes that are easy to input into my database. I like MS Word docs--or even text resumes. They are easier to put into my database and search within. When we work together and agree to send off your resume to a position, I work to format it as I do all the others. When I have to fool around with Adobe pdf resumes it is difficult, and time consuming. I advise you to send your resume as a word document so I can easily enter it and I can search within my database. I want to find your resume--and you want me to find your resume--and submit you to a position--and ultimately get a new job.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Never Say Never

Those of you who know me know that the last few months have been extremely hectic. Now I'm settling into my newly remodeled office with some new additions and am getting back in the groove. I was delighted to have one of my mentors stop by yesterday to see the new digs and new additions. He has been the number one reason I started this blog, and as I mentioned to him yesterday, the blog has been very helpful for my business. Being a wine writer, he seems to know a thing or two about this publishing business. So as a good protege I am doing what he said and blogging away.

It is funny for me to write something for the public to read. I was never a great writer in school. I had to take bone-head english in college because I never learned how to write effectively. Luckily I aced my 5 paragraph essay and tested out of a second quarter of it. Upon reflecting on my life, there are several things I thought I wasn't skilled at that proved to be easily mastered, and some things I never thought I'd do that have turned out to be very beneficial to me and my career.

In college I was a botany major. This required me to take lots of different science classes. One of my most challenging classes was biochemistry. I just couldn't understand some of it. I struggled and studied and got a passing grade. Afterwards I applied for an internship in one of the laboratories on campus. It turned out to be one of the top biochemistry groups there, and I was helping a Ph.D. candidate do highly technical protein chemistry work. When I was able to apply what I learned in class the whole year of coursework made sense. Having previously thought I would never "get" biochemistry it was quite satisfying to be a model biochemist in the application of it.

Growing up I was one of the shyest kids in school. I always thought it was so hard to go up to someone and talk to them, let alone have an extended conversation. Pushing myself I started to go up to new people and speak to them. I also took on speaking assignments in class--including a keynote address at 8th grade graduation. I learned that I really enjoyed public speaking, and that conversations were a fun thing--not something to dread. To this day I take on speaking engagements and relish learning new things about people that I've had to break the ice with. It was quite ironic to me that I ended up being a skilled salesperson--not the shy little mouse who didn't speak at all in school.

And my move to Sacramento is one of the most memorable never say never moments. Prior to moving to Sacramento my boss had offered me to open up a new office in Sacramento. I told him I would never move to Sacramento. Well, looking for a new house in 1998 in the Bay Area was a wake-up call. Six months later I asked my boss if I could take him up on the offer of moving to Sacramento. He said yes. Moving my family and opening up a new office was quite daunting--but turned out to be very important for my career and for my family. It gave me an opportunity to buy a house for a song, and start up a very successful business operation. My family has come to love the neighborhood, and we have strong ties to the community. This in turn has allowed me to open up my own business--a dream come true for me.

So, although I've questioned my abilities in the past, sometimes my biggest weaknesses have turned into my biggest strengths. Also, I never say never when a new opportunity comes up--too often opportunity has knocked very loudly and I've had to retract a previous refusal.

So, when you are going about your job search--turn some of your weaknesses to your advantage, and keep your options open. It seems like everything has a way of falling into place, usually for the better.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

When You Receive a Promotion

Years ago I received a highly coveted promotion that required me to oversee a branch that I had left years before. Although I felt a bit like General Douglas MacArthur returning to the Philippines, I wondered what was expected of me in the new post. Recently I read a very insightful article by James E. Challenger of Challenger, Gray and Christmas, Inc. Mr. Challenger is President of one of the top executive search firms in the country, and an industry expert. He had some very useful advice.

When you are given a promotion, your company has certain reasons why they chose you over other employees. And when you are put in the position, it is up to you to figure out what needs to be done, and execute quickly. Some questions you should consider are:
Is there a problem to be fixed?
Am I maintaining a department or region?
Do they expect me to completely recreate the operation or start from scratch?
How will success be defined?

When you are given the promotion, people who will be reporting to you will be anxious about what changes will occur. As Mr. Challenger points out, until these people find out what is in store their performance will suffer. So it is advisable to quickly let everyone know what your expectations are. This will allow you to set course quickly, and avoid having to refute rumors that get started. Be quick and clear with your leadership plans to avoid problems.

Once you are working on making your changes, support your staff and get them working on your side. Support risk-taking. If you have staff members who are willing to try something new, even if it doesn't work--you will have staff who are willing to support you. Also give your staff a chance to get to know you through informal gatherings where they are able to ask questions and learn from you. If you nurture an environment of learning and change, your staff will help you realize your goals.

If you have been promoted up through the ranks you face a unique challenge. While your role changed, so did the dynamics of the relationships you had with your colleagues. People you used to work side by side with are now reporting to you. You have to decide if they will be your allies or your adversaries. Although you may not think so, you do not need to be liked by everyone. You want to build trust and respect, and show your employees that you value their contributions. This will give you a hard working staff.

Now the tough part. If anyone on your team can't support your transition, you may have to let them go. It's never fun, but part of the job.

And don't apologize for getting the promotion. Your hard work and talents got you there, now put your experience and commitment to work to bring you more success.