ARG-059

The following appeared in a memo at XYZ company.

"When XYZ lays off employees, it pays Delany Personnel Firm to offer those employees assistance in creating résumés and developing interviewing skills, if they so desire. Laid-off employees have benefited greatly from Delany's services: last year those who used Delany found jobs much more quickly than did those who did not. Recently, it has been proposed that we use the less expensive Walsh Personnel Firm in place of Delany. This would be a mistake because eight years ago, when XYZ was using Walsh, only half of the workers we laid off at that time found jobs within a year. Moreover, Delany is clearly superior, as evidenced by its bigger staff and larger number of branch offices. After all, last year Delany's clients took an average of six months to find jobs, whereas Walsh's clients took nine."


Write a response in which you discuss what specific evidence is needed to evaluate the argument and explain how the evidence would weaken or strengthen the argument.


The author of the article sees as a mistake XYZ company’s recent decision to switch from Delany Personnel Firm to Walsh Personnel Firm to offer laid-off employees assistance in job seeking. The conclusion is largely based on several facts that seem to indicate that Delany has been superior to Walsh with regard to how fast they help employees find new jobs. However, these facts are insufficient for readers to make an informed judgement as to which company is indeed more up to the task.


For starters, the author clearly implies that Delany has done a great job during the years it was in service, since “last year those who used Delany found jobs quicker than those who did not.” Unfortunately, it is unclear whether there were other factors in play that could have resulted in the difference between those who relied on Delany and those who did not. Maybe Delany persuaded their clients to accept dead-end, insecure, and low-paying jobs, while others were challenging themselves to look for more lucrative positions in leading corporations. In fact, many of the latter group might not even be looking in the job market, but instead seeking further education to upgrade their skills. If they were willing to settle for undesirable roles, they could have easily secured spots even without Delany’s assistance. Consequently, purely based on statistics, the average time taken to find new jobs would be shorter for those that consulted Delany. Thus, to accurately evaluate Delany’s success, the author needs to provide more information that addresses the above possibilities.


In contrast, the author suggests that Walsh is a less successful candidate, given that eight years ago when XYZ hired Walsh, only half of the laid-off workers were able to find new jobs under a year. However, first, we have no idea how competitive the job market was back then. If most companies were in the process of laying off their employees to deal with the economic recession, that would mean that Walsh was, in fact, doing an amazing job getting half of its clients re-employed. Second, it is simply unclear whether the other half of the laid-off employees, those who did not manage to find new jobs, actually consulted Walsh at all. If most of these people simply started job hunting on their own, then the fact that they did not find one immediately actually could have indirectly attested to Walsh’s capabilities, especially if all those who secured new positions consulted Walsh. Finally, the author cannot assume that Walsh’s performance has not improved during the past eight years. Even if it was inadequate years ago, it’s possible that, after years of experiences and staff training, now it had advanced into one of the leading companies in job-hunting assistance. Overall, without further information, XYZ’s experience with Walsh eight years ago cannot lend strong support to a judgement about today.


The most relevant piece of information the author offer is a contrast between Delany and Walsh in how fast each helped clients find new positions last year. True, nine would suggest that Delany was more preferable than Walsh. However, no evidence has been provided regarding competing explanations for this data. Once again, perhaps Delany tricked its clients into accepting mediocre jobs, while Walsh encouraged its clients to go for desirable positions. Maybe Delany only accepted clients with certain qualifications (language skills, work experience, education background, and so on), meaning that these employees already possessed advantages in job placement; in contrast, perhaps Walsh was willing to offer assistance to all people, whatever their qualifications were. Accordingly, the clients Walsh had would find it easier to be reemployed, and this would have nothing to do with the assistance Walsh provided. Therefore, readers would be more willing to accept the author’s conclusion only if the author can prove that Delany offers better help than Walsh does to clients with similar backgrounds, applying for similar positions.


In addition to the above facts, the author mentions that Delany possesses a bigger staff and more branch offices than Walsh. However, why staff size and branch offices are even remotely relevant to a company’s service quality is not demonstrated at all. Unless the author elaborates on this underlying rationale, this information can neither strengthen nor undermine her argument.


Overall, despite the various facts laid out in the argument, the author has yet to offer sufficient data to really make a sound judgment between Delany and Walsh. Perhaps XYZ’s choice is ultimately unwise, but so far, we are not in position to tell.

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