Subvert the HR department with Workscore

New system lets your peers write your resume for you.

Rafe Needleman Former Editor at Large
Rafe Needleman reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business.
Rafe Needleman
3 min read

Workscore, set to launch tonight, lets you build a "social resume," a profile of your skills, with ratings from the co-workers you've invited to comment on them. Once you have enough ratings, you can send private Workscore links to the people at the companies where you want to work.

Essentially it lets you collect performance reviews from people you trust, and then share the results (the aggregate scores) when you're looking for work. It challenges the traditional, top-down, by-the-book human resources organization in which workplace performance ratings are created (usually grudgingly) by managers, and collected by HR departments. Workers don't own these reviews. When they leave a company, their reviews stay locked in HR. Yes, we can all take reviews with us but you can't prove their veracity. And when we're looking for a new job and want a reference from their previous employer, the most an HR person will say -- or allow a manager to say -- is usually along the lines of, "Yes, I can confirm that the person you're interviewing did at one point set foot in this office."

With Workscore, you ask people you work with to review you. The reviews form is both thorough and simple (unlike most workplace forms, which are generally one or the other, but not both) and it generates a series of scores. Users who are reviewed cannot see the scores individually, nor edit them, so asking a co-worker to give you a review is a bit of a gamble. Once there are a bunch of reviews for you, you get a Workscore profile that aggregates the data from the reviews.

The procedure for reviewing people is clear and comprehensive. The people you're reviewing cannot see your raw entries. Screenshot by Rafe Needleman/CNET

Workscore asks about your relationships with the people who are reviewing you, though, to figure out how much to weight individual scores. If you say that a reviewer is both a close contact and fair-minded, then the review will be weighted heavily. If you ask someone to review you who you know as a hothead, you can say they're not all that fair-minded, and their rating will count less (unless you're desperate, you'd probably be better off just not asking them to review you).

In addition to general performance reviews, you can also ask people to verify and rate work accomplishments, such as "I saved the company $200,000 by managing our manufacturing process better."

As with LinkedIn, you can also ask friends for commendations. Those you can read, and delete if you don't like them.

But it's the semi-blind nature of the performance and accomplishment ratings that makes Workscore interesting and useful. And since the people who review you are kept anonymous by the system, you could ask a former manager to give you a review and he or she won't get in trouble with the HR police at your company.

You get to decide how much weight each of your reviewers gets. Screenshot by Rafe Needleman/CNET

There's another side of Workscore: You can review your own workplace, so when people come to your company looking for work, they'll have a better idea what they're getting into. Workscore validates users by e-mail domain, so you can't ask your mother to review your performance at your current job, unless she also works at your company.

If anyone uses Workscore in the early days, I expect it will be gangs of contractors who use it to review each other and to collect reviews from clients. They'll then use their Workscore pages as designed, as online resumes that have not just their skills listed but believable reviews of them. But I am not sure that Workscore can scale quickly into a trusted brand that stands for accurate work assessment. There is a lot of carefully designed social interaction in this service, and I fear users may go off the script and reduce its value.

But I do hope it works, because it really could make information about skills and accomplishments transparent and portable, and it gives workers more control of their personal brands.

Creating standard Workscore profiles will be free. The company will make money by selling analysis tools on the data it collects. Companies will be able to track how users perceive them; individuals will be able to benchmark themselves against peers.

See also: Vault, Glassdoor, JobScore (review).