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.

Beth Golay

Beth is a reader, writer, marketer and Books & Whatnot founder. Even though she knows better, she's a sucker for a good book cover and will positively swoon if a book is set in appropriate type. @BethGolay