Online resumes and politics of performance appraisal

Please read the below excerpts and answer the questions at the end of each. 


Essay Question 1 (75 Possible Points) – Read the following scenario and answer the

questions at the end – Please explain your answers fully

Online Résumés Are Here to Stay

The trend at many organizations is toward using computer software to match

candidates’ qualifications to current job openings. How does it work? Instead of mailing

an 8 ½

-by 11-inch paper résumé to a hiring manager or human resource representative,

job seekers are now asked to visit the company website to type in their résumé online.

After that, the résumé is screened and evaluated by a computer program on such factors

as relevant keywords, past experience, and education. For example, NuView software,

which costs between $ 6 and $ 15 per month per user, asks candidates questions such as

“What is your level of education?” as they are completing the online application. If their

education level doesn’t match the requirements of the posted job, then the candidate’s

application is immediately “ knocked out” of the process. Résumés are even screened for

other reasons. For example, estimates indicate that up to 20 percent of online résumés are

knocked out of consideration due to excessive job hopping and/ or the résumé contains

typos and grammatical errors.

What types of companies are using these résumé screening software programs?

Companies like Home Depot, BellSouth, Walgreens, United Parcel Service, Blockbuster,

and Target all claim that online résumé technology saves their hiring managers a lot of

time and money, and the promising résumés are instantly available to company

personnel. This makes the hiring process much more efficient.

Another benefit of the online résumé posting process has to do with the geographic

reach the company can have with regard to candidates. At General Electric, every job

opening is posted on the internal career website. If the hiring unit decides that it wants to

advertise the ad outside of the company, then the job opening is posted on the company

website and can attract applicants from around the world. Currently, GE receives

approximately 15,000 résumés monthly, roughly half of which are submitted via the

online company website. GE managers believe that some candidates, even though they do

not live in the immediate location of the hiring unit, would be willing to relocate if they

found the right job at GE.

Some organizations, in addition to screening résumés on their own company

websites, pay to post jobs on popular online recruiting websites. The largest online

recruiting web-sites include monster. com, careerbuilders. com, and hotjobs. com.

What does all of this mean for job seekers? The rules of the résumé submission

process are changing. Job seekers need to modify their résumés so that they contain

relevant keywords that are more likely to be identified by these online résumé screening

software programs. Now more than ever, résumés have to be typo-free and written with

excellent grammar. Also, job seekers need to practice submitting their résumés online.

Perhaps they should start off by submitting their résumés to a smaller online recruiting

website. After that, they can submit their résumé to the large boards ( monster. com, etc.)

and to specific company websites.

QUESTIONS – Please Explain Your Answers Fully


Why are so many companies shifting to online résumé screening programs to

sift through applicants’ résumés?


Can you think of any disadvantages associated with the use of online résumé

screening? From the company’s perspective? The candidate’s perspective?


What can job seekers do to improve their chances of making it through the

online résumé screening process and getting an interview?

Essay Question 2 (75 Possible Points) – Read the following scenario and answer the

questions at the end – Please explain your answers fully

The Politics of Performance Appraisal

Every Friday, Max Steadman, Jim Cobun, Lynne Sims, and Tom Hamilton meet at

Charley’s Food Place after work for refreshments. The four friends work as managers at

Eckel Industries, a manufacturer of arc welding equipment in Minneapolis. The one-

plant company employs about 2,000 people. The four managers work in the

manufacturing division. Max, 35, manages the company’s 25 quality control inspectors.

Lynne, 33, works as a supervisor in inventory management. Jim, 34, is a first-line

supervisor in the metal coating department. Tom, 28, supervises a team of assemblers.

The four managers’ tenures at Eckel Industries range from 1 year ( Tom) to 12 years (

Max).The group is close-knit: Lynne, Jim, and Max’s friendship stems from their years as

undergraduate business students at the University of Minnesota. Tom, the newcomer,

joined the group after meeting the three at an Eckel management seminar last year.

Weekly get-togethers at Charley’s have become a comfortable habit for the group and

provide an opportunity to relax, exchange the latest gossip heard around the plant, and

give and receive advice about problems encountered on the job.

This week’s topic of discussion: performance appraisal, specifically the company’s

annual review process, which the plant’s management conducted in the last week. Each

of the four managers completed evaluation forms ( graphic rating scale format) on each

of his or her subordinates and met with each subordinate to discuss the appraisal.


This was the first time I’ve appraised my people, and I dreaded it. For me, it’s

been the worst week of the year. Evaluating is difficult; it’s highly subjective

and inexact. Your emotions creep into the process. I got angry at one of my

assembly workers last week, and I still felt the anger when I was filling out the

evaluation forms. Don’t tell me that my frustration with the guy didn’t bias

my appraisal. I think it did. And I think the technique is flawed. Tell me—

what’s the difference between a five and a six on “ cooperation”?


The scales are a problem. So is memory. Remember our course in human

resource management in college? Phillips said that, according to research,

when we sit down to evaluate someone’s performance in the past year, we will

be able to actively recall and use only 15 percent of the performance we


Lynne I think political considerations are always a part of the process. I know I

consider many other factors besides a person’s actual performance when I

appraise him.


Like what?

Lynne Like the appraisal will become part of the permanent written record that

affects his career. Like the person I evaluate today, I have to work with

tomorrow. Given that, the difference between a five and a six on cooperation

isn’t that relevant, because frankly, if a five makes him mad, and he’s happy

with a six. . . .


Then you give him the six. Accuracy is important, but I’ll admit it— accuracy

isn’t my primary objective when I evaluate my workers. My objective is to

motivate and reward them so they’ll perform better. I use the review process

to do what’s best for my people and my department. If that means fine-tuning

the evaluations to do that, I will.


What’s an example of fine-tuning?


Jim, do you remember three years ago when the company lowered the ceiling

on merit raises? The top merit increase that any employee could get was 4

percent. I boosted the ratings of my folks to get the best merit increases for

them. The year before that, the ceiling was 8 percent. The best they could get

was less than what most of them received the year before. I felt they deserved

the 4 percent, so I gave the marks that got them what I felt they deserved.

Lynne I’ve inflated ratings to encourage someone who is having personal problems

but is normally a good employee. A couple of years ago, one of my better

people was going through a painful divorce, and it was showing in her work. I

don’t think it’s fair to kick people when they’re down.


Or make her complacent.

Lynne No, I don’t think so. I felt she realized her work was suffering. I wanted to

give her encouragement; it was my way of telling her she had some support

and that she wasn’t in danger of losing her job.


There’s another situation where I think fine-tuning is merited— when

someone’s work has been mediocre or even poor for most of the year, but it

improves substantially in the last two, three months or so. If I think the guy is

really trying and is doing much better, I’d give him a rating that’s higher than

his work over the whole year deserves. It encourages him to keep improving.

If I give him a mediocre rating, what does that tell him?


What if he’s really working hard, but not doing so great?


If I think he has what it takes, I’d boost the rating to motivate him to keep

trying until he gets there.


I know of one or two managers who’ve inflated ratings to get rid of a pain in

the neck, some young guy who’s transferred in and thinks he’ll be there a

short time. He’s not good, but thinks he is, and creates all sorts of problems.

Or his performance is okay, but he just doesn’t fit in with the rest of the

department. A year or two of good ratings is a sure trick for getting rid of him.


Yes, but you’re passing the problem on to someone else.


True, but it’s no longer my problem.


All the examples you’ve talked about involve inflating evaluations. What

about deflating them, giving someone less than you really think he deserves?

Is that justified?

Lynne I’d hesitate to do that because it can create problems. It can backfire.


But it does happen. You can lower a guy’s ratings to shock him, to jolt him

into performing better. Sometimes, you can work with people, coach them, tryto help them improve, and it just doesn’t work. A basement-level rating can

tell someone you mean business. You can say that isn’t fair, and for the time

being, it isn’t. But what if you feel that if the guy doesn’t shape up, he faces

being fired in a year or two, and putting him in the cellar, ratings-wise, will

solve his problem? It’s fair in the long run if the effect is that he improves his

work and keeps his job.


Sometimes, you get someone who’s a real rebel, who always questions you,

sometimes even oversteps his bounds. I think deflating his evaluation is

merited just to remind him who’s the boss.

Lynne I’d consider lowering the true rating if someone had a long record of rather

questionable performance, and I think the best alternative for the person is to

consider another job with another company. A low appraisal sends him a

message to consider quitting and start looking for another job.


What if you believe the situation is hopeless, and you’ve made up your mind

that you’re going to fire the guy as soon as you’ve found a suitable

replacement? The courts have chipped away at management’s right to fire.

Today, when you fire someone, you must have a strong case. I think once a

manager decides to fire, appraisals become very negative. Anything good that

you say about the subordinate can be used later against you. Deflating the

ratings protects you from being sued and sometimes speeds up the termination



I understand your point, but I still believe that accuracy is the top priority in

performance appraisal. Let me play devil’s advocate for a minute. First, Jim,

you complained about our memory limitations introducing a bias into

appraisal. Doesn’t introducing politics into the process further distort the truth

by introducing yet another bias? Even more important, most would agree that

one key to motivating people is providing true feedback— the facts about how

they’re doing so they know where they stand. Then you talk with them about

how to improve their performance. When you distort an evaluation— however

slightly— are you providing this kind of feedback?


I think you’re overstating the degree of fine-tuning.


Distortion, you mean.


No, fine-tuning. I’m not talking about giving a guy a seven when he deserves

a two or vice versa. It’s not that extreme. I’m talking about making slight

changes in the ratings when you think that the change can make a big

difference in terms of achieving what you think is best for the person and for

your department.


But when you fine-tune, you’re manipulating your people. Why not give

them the most accurate evaluation, and let the chips fall where they may?

Give them the facts, and let them decide.


Because most of good managing is psychology— understanding people, their

strengths and shortcomings; knowing how to motivate, reward, and act to do

what’s in their and your department’s best interest. And sometimes total

accuracy is not the best path.


All this discussion raises a question. What’s the difference between fine-

tuning and significant distortion? Where do you draw the line?

Lynne That’s about as easy a question as what’s the difference between a five and

six. On the form, I mean.

QUESTIONS – Please Explain Your Answers Fully


In your opinion, and from an HRM perspective, what are the objectives of

employee performance evaluation?


On the basis of these objectives, evaluate the perspectives about performance

appraisal presented by the managers.


Assume you are the vice president of HRM at Eckel Industries and that you are

aware that fine-tuning evaluations is a prevalent practice among Eckel

managers. If you disagree with this perspective, what steps would you take to

reduce the practice? 

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