Meet Kelly Blazek. The self-described “Job Bank House Mother,” runs a Cleveland-based listserve aimed at breaking job postings in the Northeast Ohio communications industry (marketing, PR, journalism, nonprofit management positions, etc.) before anyone else does. Sounds like such a listserve could be a useful tool for job seekers, no? After all, Blazek was even named the International Association of Business Communicator’s 2013 Communicator of the Year for her work — surely that’s got to count for something. But before you go trying to join her listserve, you might want to think again. Beware anyone who reaches out to her without knowing her personally, lest ye incur the wrath of the Job Bank Dragon.
Diana Mekota, who recently graduated from John Carroll University in Rochester, NY, is moving back to the Cleveland area this summer. In order to be proactive about her job search, she attempted to subscribe to Blazek’s JobBank; she also followed up her subscription request with a LinkedIn invite to show that she was serious about the whole thing.
To her utter shock, this was the response from Blazek that showed up in Mekota’s inbox:
To which I can say only this:
As is wont to happen, the email hit the Internet. Once the
email went viral, it became clear that this wasn’t the first time Blazek had
treated a job seeker in this manner; others came up like this one, and the
Cleveland-based site CleveScene was sent this exchange:
My name is _______, I currently live in Chicago and am planning on moving back home to Cleveland in the next few months. I was born and raised in Cleveland and am excited to come back, finally. [A] friend of mine referred me to your Yahoo Group and I requested admission, but was denied.
When I told [my friend] about this, he told me that contacting you was the best way to gain access to the group. I am currently active in the employment market and have been in Technology Sales for the past 4 years.
What is the best way to gain acceptance into this group, so I can help find a job?
All the best,
[H]ow about starting with NOT presuming I would share my nearly 1,000 personally-known LinkedIn contacts with a TOTAL stranger? How bush league to pull that stunt. It's what kids do - ask senior executives to link in to them, so they can mine contacts for job leads. That's tacky, not to mention entitled - what in the world do I derive from accepting a stranger's connection request? You earned a "I Don't Know ______" from me today, for such an assumptive move. Please learn that a LinkedIn connection is the equivalent of a personal recommendation. If I haven't heard of someone, met them, or worked with them, why would I ever vouch for them on LinkedIn?
My Job Bank is a gift of my personal time and effort to benefit my profession. It's a privilege to help thousands of jobseekers - but I have my limits. You have not earned the right to ask me to connect on LinkedIn, and your Yahoo Group request was denied because you didn't provide any information when you requested membership - or failed to respond to a request for more information that indicates your background is a match for the jobs I share.
No more questions or requests. Please tap into the other job seeker resources in NE Ohio for your search.
Kelly Blazek | Principal
Gemba Communications, LLC
I’ll admit that posting rejection letters to social media is
kind of a little bit petty. But Mekota maintains that her goal wasn’t to
personally attack Blazek; indeed, it’s worth noting that in the screenshot she
posted to Imgur, no identifying information about Blazek is to be found. Speaking
to Cleveland.com, Mekota noted, “This was never a personal attack simply
because I was turned down. More than anything, it was about the fact that this
senior professional was treating young professionals like this, in a time when
it’s already difficult to find a job.”
And social media issues aside, she’s right. Reactions like Blazek’s are the reason I’ve always been slightly afraid of cold calling or emailing potential job contacts if it’s not in direct response to a job listing. No one should ever be made to feel awful about themselves for doing something like, y’know, being proactive about the hunt for employment. Furthermore, behavior like Blazek’s is far from uncommon. It’s one of the many things wrong with the job market, and drawing attention to it is one of the few ways I can think of that might force some much-needed change.
For what’s it worth, Blazek did issue an apology; she also deleted her Twitter account and all of the content from her Wordpress site. But while Blazek’s statement notes that she “lost sight of kindness” due to the rising demands of the listserve, she fails to address how she came to believe that it’s okay to treat another human being like that. Maybe it’s the distance communicating over the Internet puts between the sender and receiver. I don’t know. But I will say this: Let’s all try to keep our perspective, shall we? If there’s no need to blast someone, don’t do it. A little kindness goes a long way.
Image: Twitter/Kelly Blazek