HR Administration

SHRM Bookstore: It’s Not Just a Place to Read

By Aysha Ashley Househ

Jun. 18, 2018

Attendees peruse the books and other HR gear at the SHRMStore at the annual SHRM18 conference in Chicago. Photo by Ave Rio

“Say SHRMeese!” That’s a phrase one person chose to use when he was asked to take a picture of two friends at the SHRMStore. After speaking to some people, there’s something you come to realize.

The annual Society for Human Resource Management conference, taking place in Chicago June 17-20, isn’t just about listening to speakers or learning how to advance in HR. It’s also a chance to meet up with old friends.

Some people have been coming to SHRM for years and end up seeing the same individuals year after year. Chatting right at the edge of the store was a group of four who were so excited to see each other, hugging and catching up. It turns out that this group met five years ago at a SHRM conference and have stayed in touch ever since. They’ve become so close that they text each other regularly in a group chat of 17 people to check up on each other’s everyday lives.

Elsewhere at the SHRM store, dozens of people scan the shelves and peruse the many books available at their disposal, and some shoppers hold onto full baskets.

This is Jennifer Palar’s first SHRM conference and her shopping basket contained at least five books, and she was still looking to grab more. The one that stood out most to the business professor at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, is “A Millennial’s Guide to Rewriting the Rules of Management” by Brad Karsh and Courtney Templin.

“There are not a lot of ways that we have found to communicate to millennials about what the workforce is like and what they should expect,” said Palar when talking about her undergraduate students. “And so, I’m looking for materials that I can have them get to use as texts for class, for discussions, and other things like that.”

An HR specialist for the FBI, Nerida Diaz has been learning how to transition from working in the private sector at Wells Fargo Bank to applying her skills with the government. “Enjoy the Ride” by Steve Gilliland caught her eye and she believes it will help her since, as the title suggests it shows how to get “the positive things” and may help make her transition smoother — which she also believes she will be able to learn from the conference.

“How companies are really succeeding and how they are really good at what they do. And how we can implement it in the government because we run a little bit different,” said Diaz.

Gabrielle Testa had multiple books in hand, one of them being “Give and Take” by Adam Grant, one of the keynote speakers who spoke Tuesday morning. The manager at St. Joe Club and Resorts in Panama City Beach, Florida, also picked up a self-help book for HR managers since her company is focusing on changes and growth.

“We’re focusing right now on generational changes and closing that gap and then also on inspiring innovation and change,” said Testa.

With perhaps one of the most important roles, Vince Caldwell, the SHRMStore coordinator, said books such as “No Ego” by Cy Wakeman that dig into personalities in the workplace, other books that focus on employee engagement, HR expertise and harassment and diversity are always popular reads. Especially with this year’s #MeToo movement, harassment and how to deal with it in the workplace is one of the topics people are gravitating toward. There are also software and video training DVDs for sale at the store.

So why does Caldwell believe so many people enjoy checking out the bookstore?

“This is the number one hub where you can get the specialized products for HR, designed for HR, made for HR,” said Caldwell. “We aggregate most of those resources.”

Aysha Ashley Househ is an editorial associate for Workforce. Comment below or email

Aysha Ashley Househ is a Workforce editorial associate.

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