Beth Golay

Q & D Results: Applications

A recent Quick & Dirty question asked:

How do potential employees apply for a job at your store? Walk in and ask for a paper application? Download an application from your website? Complete a form online? Some other way?

I received a lot of great feedback:

  • We don’t post job openings anymore. We always take resumes, and if someone seems promising, we’ll ask him/her to provide a cover letter and general availability info as well. We invite people to apply & interview, and that’s worked out wonderfully. 
  • Walk in and ask for a paper application or email resume to store.
  • Paper applications, because that’s all we have–the urge to say “rock and chisel” is overwhelming. We advertise for help wanted by in-store signage and on Facebook. I’m desperate for other ways to attract quality applicants.
  • walk in
  • I get unsolicited resumes sent to my email, or I have a file for paper copies, but when I need to hire, I put out an email invitation for a resume. From those, I invite the prospective employee to come in to fill out an application, then interview them.
  • We don’t bother printing out applications for folks to fill out – we just ask them to bring in a resume. We also encourage “creative resumes” – any “out of the box” way for us to get to know you better (with pertinent contact info attached in some fashion).
  • They walk in and ask for an application. I immediately round file applications dropped off for teens by their well-meaning parents. If the teens looking for summer jobs can’t take the time to come in themselves, I’m not sure I want them in my store! LOL. We get lots of teens in the Spring and Summer, so I have to have some way to start sorting through their applications.
  • Walk in and ask for a paper application. We prefer to have them fill it out on the spot. We hire a few young teens each year and like to see how they comport themselves, eye contact, etc., since it is a first job for most. Also to make sure Mom is not right there helping them along.
  • We encourage everyone to come in with a resume & cover letter. We sort through based on qualifications & enthusiasm. (One girl photoshopped herself riding our store mascot [a warthog] with explosions in the background & made us stickers. She was hired.) We also recently started giving our applicants a ‘quiz’ that lets us judge whether their weirdness matches our own. It has three whole general knowledge book questions & the rest of the questions are things like “Anti- or Pro-Zombie?” “Do you ever feel like a plastic bag?” and so on.
  • We only hire once in awhile. Sometimes we have gone years without needing anyone. When people are interested in applying we ask them to write us a letter with their availability and anything else they want us to know. The vagueness of what we want really lets an applicant show us a bit about themselves. What they decide to include can be helpful in deciding who to call in for an interview.
  • Multiple ways: paper application picked up at store, downloaded from website, or requested via email and a pdf sent. We always require a resume with our application.
  • We ask people to email a cover letter and resume, in which they talk about their favorite books and writers, their general availability, and why they think they’d be a good fit for our store. We keep those on file for when we are in need of hiring a general bookseller.
    We do have a more in-depth application that we ask people to fill out once we decide to interview them that has an extensive book quiz. We also ask applicants at that point to tell us about the last 5 books they read and to tell us about their 5 favorite books from childhood.
    Having that written part of the application gives us a good introduction to the applicant’s grammar and language usage and the book quiz gives us an idea of the depth of their book knowledge.  Their ability to express themselves clearly is ultimately more important than their general book knowledge, though.
  • We get a lot of referrals for new staff from current booksellers.  2nd is the applications, though it’s about 50/50 in terms of percentage.
  • We have both print applications for drop-ins, and downloadable ones on our website.

300 Seconds: Done with the blurb? Now handsell.

Once you finish writing the blurb for your new favorite book, take a few minutes (or five) to think about customers with similar reading tastes who would also love the book. Divide the readers on the list into segments defining how to best reach out to them (phone call, text, email, tag in social media). Now you have a plan of attack for hand selling.

Before you talk yourself into thinking this communication is like a cold call, remember this: Your customers appreciate being thought of. They like that you include them on your list of great readers. By telling them about the next great book a few months early, you are performing a service.

Use some of the verbiage and enthusiasm that you included in your blurb in these phone calls, texts, emails or social media tags. Will this outreach take longer than 300 seconds? Maybe. But I promise, the return on investment for any time you spend will be worth it… both monetarily and in terms of customer relationships.

IndieNext Deadline Today

You know that book you just picked up and immediately devoured that doesn’t come out until August or September? Today’s the day to send your blurb for the IndieNext list. They’re accepting nominations for books published in August 2017 or beyond.

It should only take you a few minutes to gather your thoughts and send them in. They’ll even help with grammar and whatnot. So turn off your phone, close down your email program, wear some don’t-talk-to-me earbuds (no sound required) and write your blurb. Then either email it to or use the online form.

If you’re deadline oriented, it’s time. (Unless you’re really deadline oriented. Then you have until midnight Pacific.)

300 Seconds: A Signage Intervention

300 Seconds: A Signage Intervention

The other day I passed a retail establishment that boasted about all of the ‘great gifts for Mom’ available in the store. Mother’s Day had occurred a few weeks earlier, but I understand how we can become blind to the displays and promotions we look at every day, so I mentally granted them a free pass.

Then I saw a restaurant promoting their Easter brunch.

Easter? Come on.

None of the establishments were bookstores. Nevertheless, it’s time for a five minute intervention.

Take 300 seconds today to look at the posters and flyers hanging around your store. Are any out of date? It’s also a good idea to look for any signage that might be rough around the edges. Go ahead and remove them. If you don’t have replacements ready to go, keep the stack you just removed near your design computer and tackle printing the replacements one at a time, as you have 300 seconds available.

Remember to check the front door, foyer, community bulletin board, near the register, etc. Just walk around and try to envision the customer’s perspective, since you might not focus on the details like someone with fresh eyes.

Video: ‘Double Take! A New Look at Opposites’

Here’s a book trailer for Double Take! A New Look at Opposites by Susan Hood and Jay Fleck. I love the animation and the jaunty little toon. (And I especially love the way the traditional line ‘available where books are sold’ instead reads ‘available where good books are sold’.)

Susan Hood is on Facebook, on Twitter @sHood125 and social media and has an author site, and illustrator Jay Fleck is on Facebook, on Instagram @jayafleck and also has a site highlighting his colorful work.

If you’d like to share the sweet video with your customers, here’s the embed code:

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