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.