Job bank boss takes national flak for tearing into young job-seeker
CLEVELAND — When you’re a city’s “Communicator of the Year” and have hailed yourself as a “passionate advocate” for job-seekers, you probably shouldn’t blast one of those job-seekers in a snide, dismissive e-mail.
But that’s what’s happened to Kelly Blazek, who runs a popular online job bank for marketing professionals in Cleveland.
Blazek’s response to an e-mail and LinkedIn request from Diana Mekota, a 26-year-old planning to move to Cleveland this summer, has made the rounds on Reddit, Buzzfeed and other viral hotspots after Mekota posted it to her Imgur account.
And the resulting backlash is yet another cautionary tale about how posting something mean-spirited online can come back to haunt you in the social media age.
“Your invite to connect is inappropriate, beneficial only to you, and tacky,” Blazek wrote, according to Mekota’s post. “Wow, I cannot wait to let every 26-year-old jobseeker mine my top-tier marketing connections to help them land a job.”
And she was just getting warmed up.
“I love the sense of entitlement in your generation,” she wrote, then continued. “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.”
She wrapped up with: “Don’t ever write me again.”
Mekota’s original e-mail, sent February 19, was a short message detailing her education, professional and volunteer activities and asking to join the 7,300-member jobs list. She said she got Blazek’s response shortly afterward and, after composing herself, wrote a response.
“I realize you told me to never write you again, but wanted to reach out as there has been a large miscommunication and I merely wanted to explain myself,” she wrote.
She said she sent a LinkedIn request so Blazek could see her credentials because a friend told her not to send a resume.
“I apologize if this came off as arrogant or invasive as that was never my intention,” she wrote. “I was again, hoping to join your very impressive job board but I understand you(r) reservations.”
After the posts went viral (spawning, for one, the obligatory Twitter parody account), Blazek on Wednesday e-mailed an apology to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.
“I am very sorry to the people I have hurt,” she wrote. “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.”
Blazek was named 2013’s “Communicator of the Year” by Cleveland’s branch of the International Association of Business Communicators.
“I’ve always been a passionate advocate for keeping talent in NE Ohio, and we have so much of it in the region,” she said in her acceptance speech. “I want my subscribers to feel like everyone is my little sister or brother, and I’m looking out for them.”
Blazek did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment. On Thursday, she appeared to have deleted her Twitter account and WordPress blog.
“The note I sent to Diana was rude, unwelcoming, unprofessional and wrong,” she said in her e-mail to the newspaper. “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.”
On Twitter, Mekota confirmed having received an apology.
“Would like to let you know Kelly Blazek has sent a very nice apology email, for which I thank her,” she wrote.
But this may not have been the first time Blazek has had a nasty exchange with a potential job-bank member.
Rick Uldricks told WJW-TV in Cleveland that he received a similar response in December when he messaged Blazek saying he’d been deleted from the jobs list and would like to be added again.
“I suggest you join the other Job Bank in town. Oh — guess what. There isn’t one,” Blazek wrote, according to an e-mail he provided the station. “Done with this conversation, and you.”
According to the Plain Dealer, she has also apologized to Uldricks.