The social media world in Cleveland blew up yesterday when Kelly Blazek become the story across several social networks. Blazek for those that don’t know, is the creator of the Cleveland Job Bank (a Yahoo group dedicated to helping professionals in the Cleveland area find work). The Job Bank is a closed group and requires approval by Blazek to join. And while Blazek has hundreds of LinkedIn connections she is very particular who she links with.
Diana Mekota was looking to move to the Cleveland area from Chicago. She sent Blazek an unsolicited LinkedIn request as well as a request to join the Job Bank email list. The initial email said this:
SUBJECT: Request To Subscribe
“Looking for a communications career in Cleveland. Have had experience in project management and would like to continue down this path. I am interested in communications and marketing, specifically in the healthcare industry.
I graduated John Carroll University with bachelor’s degree in Communications and minor in Political Science in 2009. Moved to Chicago and obtained a job as an event/conference producer for top pharmaceutical companies at Marcus Evans. I then moved to a position with American Physician Institutes as a project manager for a new continuing medical education product. I managed all marketing and communications along with developing a business plan and launching said project.
In my spare time, I have been a volunteer editor for ISF, a charity for global conservation, green energy development, and ending animal cruelty. I am also a freelance writer for Messenger Post Media as of late.
I have worked in both radio and TV during my time at John Carroll. I hosted a radio program on 88.7 FM, as well as interned at WKYC. While reporting has been a passion, I am more interested in healthcare/medical communications.
Thank you for your time.”
The question of whether or not Diana should have reached out to Blazek to begin with has come up. After all, the Job Bank is a closed group and they have no common connections on LinkedIn. However, I don’t think it’s necessarily out of line for a 20-something to use all means at her disposal to get a leg up in a bad job market. Her initial email, while longer than the 200 words Blazek suggests for entry into the Job Bank is full of info about herself and proceeds to tell the story of why she’s asking to be a part of the list. Sadly (for Kelly Blazek) the response was nothing short of jaw dropping.
Kelly Blazek’s response to Diana Mekota’s LinkedIn request and Job Bank note above (which Mekota subsequently shared via Twitter and several other social media outlets) set off a firestorm. The response is as follows:
SUBJECT: Poor Judgement on your Jobseeking Strategy
“We have never met. We have never worked together. You are quite young and green on how business connections work with senior professionals. Apparently you have heard that I produce a Job Bank, and decided it would be stunningly helpful for your career prospects if I shared my 960+ LinkedIn connections with you – a total stranger who has nothing to offer me.
Your invite to connect is inappropriate, beneficial only to you, and tacky. Wow, I cannot wait to let every 26 year old job seeker mine my top-tier marketing connections to help them land a job.
I love the sense of entitlement in your generation. And therefore I enjoy denying your invite, and giving you the dreaded “I Don’d Know [Diana]” because it’s the truth.
Oh, and about your request to actually receive my Job Bank along with the 7,300 other subscribers to my service? That’s denied, too.
I suggest you join the other Job Bank in town. Oh wait – there isn’t one.
You’re welcome for your humility lesson for the year. Don’t ever reach out to senior practitioners again and assume their carefully curated list of connections is available to you, just because you want to build your network.
Don’t ever write me again.”
As you can imagine, there was quite a bit of “discussion” about this. The story quickly went viral and started showing up on blogs, Twitter feeds, Facebook walls, local radio shows and even the local news. A slew of people came forward with similar emails from Blazek showing that sadly this wasn’t just an isolated incident. Here’s a sampling of the coverage:
- Talk About An Unprofessional LinkedIn Response
- Kelly Blazek, Head of Cleveland Job Bank, Writes Scathing Emails to Local Job Seekers
- Your humility lesson for the year from a ‘professional’
- How One Email Can Destroy Your Personal Brand — Starring Kelly Blazek
- 11 Comebacks To The Email The Cleveland Job Bank Lady Wrote
To get a really good understanding of the situation, make sure you read the comments on some of these links. While there is some (well deserved at times) vitriol in there, there is also some really well thought out discussion.
Apparently, Blazek who describes herself as the “Job Bank Mother” had finally had enough and she responded with a public apology via a Cleveland.com article where she had this to say:
“I am very sorry to the people I have hurt.
Creating and updating the Cleveland Job Bank listings has been my hobby for more than ten years. It started as a labor of love for the marketing industry, but somehow it also became a labor, and I vented my frustrations on the very people I set out to help.
Hundreds of people contact me every month looking for help, and as the bottom fell out of the job market, their outreach and requests demanded more of my time. I became shortsighted and impatient, and that was wrong.
My Job Bank listings were supposed to be about hope, and I failed that. In my harsh reply notes, I lost my perspective about how to help, and I also lost sight of kindness, which is why I started the Job Bank listings in the first place.
The note I sent to Diana was rude, unwelcoming, unprofessional and wrong. I am reaching out to her to apologize. Diana and her generation are the future of this city. I wish her all the best in landing a job in this great town.”
This clearly wasn’t handled properly. And not just by Kelly Blazek. The message she was sending isn’t necessarily a bad one. She doesn’t connect with people she hasn’t worked with on LinkedIn. Fair enough. I know some folks who handle their network building the same way. Additionally, she has a highly cultivated email list that she maintains, she’s no doubt proud of and she doesn’t want “just anyone” to have access to it. That’s fair too. Had she been better able to articulate those points none of this would have happened.
Blazek’s biggest mistake was actually responding at all. A true “professional” would have simply hit “Do Not Know” and been done with it. In the job seeking world a non-response is pretty typical. If Diana Mekota had heard nothing she would have chalked it up to part of the job search and moved on.
As for Mekota, some have said that she needs to realize that not everything will be handed to her and running to the web and posting her issues was not a professional response either. While there’s some truth to this, the bottom line is that we live in a social world these days. A seasoned pro such as Blazek should know this. Melota is pounding the virtual pavement, shaking hands and getting her name out there using the methods at her disposal.
What do you think? Was Mekota out of line for going to social media in the first place? Is Blazek 100% at fault for her less than professional response? Got a similar story to share? We’d love to hear it!