How to Kill Your Career in Cleveland in 3 Emails or Less

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Cleveland.com Kelly Blazek at the IABC awards ceremony
You'd think someone who was Head of the Cleveland Job Bank might know more about creating a killer career than how to kill a thriving one. It's tempting to turn this week's Kelly Blazek Gate into a war between seniors and Millennials. There's plenty of reason to veer in that direction, especially as the vitriolic emails that have surfaced use words like "immature," "young," "green," "your generation," and "senior practitioners."

Here's what happened: The saga started when Diane Mekota, a recent graduate of John Carroll University, contacted Blazek, self-proclaimed Cleveland Job Bank "Mother" via Linkedin, inviting her to connect. Mekota had good reason to tap into the career-making tool to reach Kelly: Blazek was named "2013 Communicator of the Year" by the Cleveland Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators. "Blazek is not just a headhunter or a recruiter, but a senior communications executive who enjoys helping others in the profession," the IABC said in a statement at the time.

Here's where you should sit down and add a smidgen of Sambuca to your coffee. Blazek's response to Diana's Linkedin invitation:

Subject: Poor Judgment 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 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't 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 to 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.

Email went viral

After emailing Blazek a second time and getting no response, Mekota decided to post the email publicly. "I posted it to reddit, imgur and facebook," asking them to "please help call this lady out," Mekota said. And call her out they did. Yesterday, social media went ballistic, with Twitter, Facebook, and other social sites expressing outrage. On my own Facebook feed. I watched comments explode, particularly on Kristen Kaleal's profile. As a prominent blogger, stylist and corporate image advisor in Cleveland, Kristen is at ground zero in the city's close-knit marketing and communications community. Posted responses were heated and intriguing including some that could trigger a whole new debate on networking:

I think it is a severe case of not managing demands and overwhelm combined with outdated notions about networking. She has done a lot of good for a very difficult Cleveland marcom job market - people make mistakes...

I just feel that it would have been easier for her to hit the "Ignore" button. I'm not perfect, but I have found that acting in a mean or arrogant way requires too much energy. Sometimes being nice can backfire, don't get me wrong, but it's simply the easier way to live, IMHO.

I cannot get past the perverse glee in her tone in those emails. She would be a great over the top villain in a "Devil Wears Prada"-type workplace novel

She could have a "Shark Tank"-esque show for job searchers.


Two similar notes from Blazek have also surfaced, one from Rick Uldricks, a job seeker who made the "mistake" of trying to join Blazek's Yahoo jobs group. In addition to calling him "Immature" and asking if he was "too busy posing for pouty Twitter pictures," they include such helpful zingers as: "You have not earned the right to ask me to connect on LinkedIn" and "Done with this conversation, and you."


Inevitably, she's issued an apology: "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."

Blazek has also deleted the majority of her social media profiles.

Portland social media pro Carri Bugbee on the brouhaha: "Kelly Blazek's ignorant "tips" for jobseekers indicate that she hasn't figured out how LinkedIn is used these days. LinkedIn stopped being a place where you only connected with people you worked with (or knew well) years ago. Now LinkedIn encourages and enables people to have as many contacts as possible because the network effect makes it a more powerful platform for everybody.

Linkedin is not an old-fashioned rolodex.

It's not a breach of etiquette for strangers-especially those working (or aspiring to work) in the same industry, especially one as supportive as Cleveland, to connect. By the same token, a connection on LinkedIn connotes no close relationship and doesn't give anyone special access to another person's contact list. It's not an old-fashioned rolodex, which some people guarded carefully in decades past.

I love this comment about Blazek-Gate from David Parmet, a Linkedin friend of Carri's: "The 80's called and they want their business networking practices back."

Check out new Twitter account Krabby Blazek (@KrabbyB) with the tagline: "Join the Other Job Bank in town. Oh wait, there isn't one."

> AOL Jobs has thousands of opportunities for jobseekers in Cleveland

> More Kelly Blazek nasty emails surface
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