LinkedIn is an incredibly powerful networking tool for professionals to connect with their colleagues, find new job opportunities and get to better know their industry. Think of it as Facebook for professionals. Sadly, not everyone who’s got a LinkedIn account remembers the “professional” part of that title.
I ran across this in my Facebook feed last night when it was shared by a professional for which I have the utmost respect. As I dug in and began reading the story I quickly became absolutely appalled.
The Back Story
As best as I can gather, there’s a 20-something gal who’s looking to move to the Cleveland area. She (unsolicited) sent a LinkedIn request to a lady who apparently is held in some high regard in the Cleveland area. In addition to being a seasoned professional, she runs a Job Bank email group with over 7,300 subscribers (which sounds like a PERFECT resource for someone looking to get to the Cleveland area).
Now I haven’t seen the original email, but the 20-something posted the response. Wow… just wow.
The original is here: http://m.imgur.com/gallery/71sQ92K
20-something included this response with her image:
“Moving to a new area so I attempted to join her job board and followed it up with a LinkedIn invite. This was the email response I received. Guess us twenty somethings should bow down to senior professionals because clearly we have nothing to offer. Just like to point out that her LinkedIn page reads: “Frequent speaker on creating a gamechanger resume, professional presence, and how LinkedIn is a critical element of any job search.” So the job search continues…”
All I can say is “WOW”.
On a professional level this is completely deplorable. On a Cleveland level it’s embarrassing that this sort of thing is associated in any way my home town. I’d briefly considered adding this gal’s name and links to her blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. just so that every time someone Googled her name this “incident” came up. I’ve decided against that partially because she’s deactivated her Twitter, LinkedIn profile, WordPress blog, etc. and honestly I don’t want to open myself up to some bitch with too much time on her hands looking for retribution (But I won’t stop you fine folks from leaving comments 😉 )
- I didn’t see the initial request from the 20-something so I don’t know how tacky it may have been.
- I don’t know this “professional” so I can’t speak from any sort personal experience, but based on the comments on various outlets this seems right in line for this person.
Check out this SECOND email that someone posted – see a pattern?
The original is here: http://m.imgur.com/ioK17Ms
The bottom line is this… these sort of unsolicited requests come on a regular basis. Even if I’m having a bad day, even if I don’t know the person, even if we’ve got nothing in common, there are better ways to respond.
In the words of the immortal Ace Hunter: “Life is on the wheel… it all comes around.”
The more I dig into this, the more pissed I get. So before I get myself into trouble by offering more than “facts” I’ll be done. And just like that, “Done with this conversation, and you.”
- Thanks to Diana (the 20-something) for providing some additional information. She’s responded to this post below with the initial outreach email.
- Cleveland Scene put together a nice recap of not only the story, but also the social media (Twitter) backlash – Kelly Blazek, Head of Cleveland Job Bank, Writes Scathing Emails to Local Job Seekers
- Buzzfeed.com ran a similar piece – Your humility lesson for the year from a ‘professional’
- Casey Braun (@caseybraun on Twitter) had this to say – How One Email Can Destroy Your Personal Brand — Starring Kelly Blazek
- And now the Blazek memes have started – 11 Comebacks To The Email The Cleveland Job Bank Lady Wrote
- Kelly Blazek restarts her Job Bank twitter account, another previously offended job seeker comes forward
- Kelly Blazek’s Job Bank rejection-letter debacle offers lessons for everyone
- Job Bank Chief Apologizes After Anti-Millennial ‘Humility Lesson’ Backfires Harsh emails to applicants go viral
- Diana tweeted this proving not everyone in Cleveland is an a-hole 😉
— Diana Mekota (@PettieBettie) February 25, 2014
It seems that after nearly 12 hours of being publicly eviscerated via social media, Kelly Blazek finally decided to make an apology rather than hiding her head in the virtual sand. Janet Cho from the Plain Dealer and Cleveland.com posted her apology here: Job bank head Kelly Blazek apologizes after her rejection emails go viral
Is the apology legit? Is she just doing this to try to rebuild her image? Is the response just too little too late? You be the judge.
Yesterday was a bad day for Kelly Blazek. I’m sure she would love a do-over. She got blasted, will most likely lose clients and possibly her job. Her Job Bank email list certainly got a lot of notoriety and this situation is another stark reminder that social media can affect things… big time.
While it’s not the position that I personally subscribe to, I don’t think the message that Blazek was sending was necessarily a bad one: “I don’t connect with people I don’t know on LinkedIn and I don’t just let anyone in to my Job Bank email.” Unfortunately for her, that’s not quite the way she worded it. If she had, her response never would have seen the light of day and her name wouldn’t be worth as much as Art Modell or LeBron James in Cleveland PR circles.
Whether or not her response SHOULD have been shared via social media is another matter all together. The bottom line is this… every time you share, email, tweet, check in, etc., that action is being captured. Whether it’s by Google, an analytics program, a pissed off job seeker, etc. Kelly Blazek will go down as a big time reminder of that power of social media and that you really should think through a response before hitting “send”.