Kelly Blazek – Lessons In Professionalism and Social Media

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.

Kelly Blazek

The Outreach

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.”

Diana Mekota

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.

The Response

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.”

The Fallout

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:

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.

The Apology

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:

Kelly Blazek Headshot“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.”

Thoughts

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!

Bookmark the permalink.

8 Comments

  1. Kelly Blazek was completely unprofessional and rude. Plain and simple. She didn’t need to respond at all but her ego got the better of her. She lost sight of the original purpose of the job bank….

  2. I really despise people like Kelly Blazek. Her response was totally unprofessional, ungracious, unkind and petty. How miserable and small-minded she must be to take the time to write such a scathing email to someone because they had the audacity to request a Linked-in connection with her.

  3. I thought what was an attractive women acting so ugly? Then I realized that pic is misleading. She doesn’t look like that at all. She did a little photoshopping. No, a lot.

  4. Clearly the response was waaay over the top, and out of proportion to what irritated her. But, a word about what irritated her (or my guess about that). The email Diana sent to Kelly contained errors I sometimes see in young professionals, namely an arrogance, that may be completely unwitting…or maybe it’s just arrogance. Diana didn’t open the email with “Dear Kelly” (which is almost as bad as the professional emails I receive from young 20s that start “Hey____.” And what she launches into is all about her.

    The kind of email that would have probably elicited a more helpful response would have gone something like: “Dear Kelly, Recently I learned about the Job Bank. It looks like you have built an amazing network of talented people in the Cleveland area, and been successful at ____. Recently I relocated here from Chicago, and am looking to plug into a group like yours. My background is in ____. Thank you so much for your consideration. Best wishes etc.”

    When I get arrogant or seemingly high-handed emails from someone like Diana I tend to delete them or send them a form email with a link to something generic. Occasionally, I will take the time to give feedback, but that would have been nearly impossible to do so, given the arrogant tone and content of the email Diana wrote.

    More tactful feedback—if it indicated that Diana needed to be more professional and respectful to people in positions of power—would likely also have incited Diana’s ire and ended up broadcast on Twitter. It is a lesson Diana needs to learn, but not from an angry, unhinged stranger who’s supposed to be a role model!

    As it is, if I were an employer anywhere in the US I would never hire Diana now—her sense of entitlement is dangerous. If this is what she does when she feels slighted: beware! And yet, Kelly should have intuited someone that clueless and with a sense of professional self-worth that way exceeds her value at this point would be unpredictable and react bitterly and badly to being told she was arrogant. And really, the way Kelly redressed her is horrific.

    • I totally agree. I don’t understand the constant need to expose someone if they hurt your feelings. All the more reason I wouldn’t hire or be professionally associated with her or people like her because when can you really trust them. If you say something that they disagree with will they then demonize you? Go to HR and tattle tell “she said she doesn’t want to be my friend”…really

  5. And this is why I said f*** the job market and became a self employed millionaire because the lot of you are self important douches that make judgements based on petty nonsensical bs. Sure 20 year olds have an entitlemennt issue but they can grow out of it, can you grow out of yours to have a “high paying professional job?” What would you worker bee clowns do if you had to hustle not knowing sure your next penny would find from? Just a bunch of ants on a hill trying to exert importance over each other. I hate petty things like this. Plus if she really wanted to help the young woman she would have included an offer with the apology. I don’t respect cocky self important employees. Become your own boss before you have that attitude. You’re a wage slave just like everyone else. Plus if you had be honest with yourself and did what you were passionate about maybe such levels of frustration wouldn’t even arise. I said f*** you to that wage slave lifestyle and I’m never looking back. You guys will spend most of your lives working for other ppl, praying for any escape you can get from your terrible life. Vacations, celebrity drama, 2 day weekends LOL and your only claim to all of this is bragging rights a douche fest company mixers. LAME. Grow balls aged build your OWN dreams!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *