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

'Devil Wears Prada' plays out over spurned LinkedIn request 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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The response this woman sent was unhelpful and inappropriate, but I love how this article asserts that there is one acceptable way to use LinkedIn (or any social network) and that if you don't use it the same way you're plain wrong.

Actually it's up to each individual how they use any of these sites and whether they permit unknown newcomers with zero credentials to access their network of contacts. Many people do still use LinkedIn for maintaining trusted working relationships, and not as an exploitative recruitment lead-source. It is presumptuous to send an unsolicited request with zero explanation to someone you've never met before. Even if they don't tell you, it's worth remembering that's how your move will be perceived. It doesn't matter how out of date you might think they are, if they're in a position with influence over hiring the one who will lose out is you.

March 16 2014 at 5:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Hubert and Susan

So this woman pushing 50 who just graduated from college is taking a 26 year old to task for networking as it was intended. What a hormonal BeeYotch. If she had a daughter aspiring to be a cheerleader, this woman strikes me as someone who would " eliminate" the competition.

March 06 2014 at 3:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Can Ms. Blazek come back? I suppose so given the overall forgiving nature of our society to admitted faults. However, she will have a major task in adjusting her attitudes, knowledge and getting beyond the slogans and bias stereotypes regarding Millenials that is common today. I've seen it written elsewhere that Ms Blazek must not have kids or is tone-deaf to them because Millenials will articulate their value and their shortfalls quite vocally if one just listens even handedly. History is also instructive here. The "Greatest Generation" is rightly lauded for their contributions to the world. But, if you review what THEIR parents said about THEM in the 30's out of context, you'd think you'd heard the latest complaints against OUR younger generation! And so it was too when I was a Boomer growing up in the 60's and 70's. All the disparaging talk about how all we could do was have sex and listen to rock n' roll, not going to amount to nothing! Even our military was disparaged as our Vietnam soldiers just didn't have the right "stuff" compared to those who served in WWII. Well, on balance, we Boomers did turn out pretty well and I suspect the Millenials will too!

March 02 2014 at 3:18 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Joe Bialek

In a word: Despicable. Ms. Blazek is obviously a "1% wannabe" who is using
her self-proclaimed "hobby" and "fame" to advance her own career goals at
the expense of those who contacted her for help. The responses in her
emails begs the question: are all the applicants she disapproved of
now blackballed from seeking employment with the companies she appears to
represent {as some sort of half-baked recruiter}? Perhaps the Ohio Civil
Rights Commission should investigate whether or not any wrong doing has
taken place. Also, what forms of compensation have been received by Ms.
Blazek during her self-described passion for altruistic job placement? Does
anyone really believe she does all this out of the "kindness" of her heart?
No I think we witnessed first hand the true character behind the benign mask
of Ms. Blazek. What part of her email responses falls under the category
of bullying? Accordingly, Ms. Blazek must be stripped of her 2013
Communicator of the Year Award and release the names and email addresses of
all contacts she has harvested during this pursuit of self aggrandizement.
Ms. Blazek has bragged about having 7,300 email addresses {of who is still
unknown}. Let me say as a social activist I have many many more {but that
includes worldwide email addresses as well}. Finally I have not had to use
a resume for a job application in the last 18 years because I read the book
"What Color is Your Parachute?" and built my own "who-you-know network".
It's really not that difficult. Furthermore I'll give a referral to anyone
who asks and certainly not expect anything in return. Ms. Blazek, if you
really want to help people {find a job} it has to start without expecting
any more than a sincere thank you. In the best sense of the cliché charity
does in fact provide it's own rewards. I suggest you start with the people
you rejected as a penance for the sins you have committed. Perhaps if you
begin your "comeback" by helping them the community may be more apt to
accept your apology and forgive you as well. Therein lie the lesson. Now
get busy.

March 01 2014 at 4:20 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

This is an angry woman, lashing out like this. She needs psychiatric help and should NOT be allowed to work in the employment industry. Actually, she should not be allowed to communicate with people at all until she finds her soul. A little compassion, Kelly!

March 01 2014 at 11:15 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Mel Tremper

I can't understand how Mekota was able to get LinkedIn to send the invite. I tried to reconnect to someone I knew as part of a larger national association, but LinkedIn refused to send my request to the person because we had never "worked together" and I could not supply their email address. (If I had that I would not need LinkedIn.) I can see why Blazek would blow off the request-if every job hungry newbie sent her LinkedIn requests, it could be a part time job just responding to them. Its like someone running for PTA president in a small town emailing Obama to come speak on their behalf at the next annual meeting. Of course, the rejection could have been a bit less haughty.

February 28 2014 at 9:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't know enough about LinkedIn to know if what the original person did was a breach in etiquette, but even if it was, just ignore the message, say you don't know the person or whatever, and move on. But to write a long, bitter, rude e-mail that clearly wasn't some spur of the moment thing is horrible. Takes 10 times as long to be an awful person about it.

And the apology, come on. It's not like she wrote something in 2 sentences, and then didn't realize how it came out kind of nasty or something. She spend like 4 paragraphs taking some 22 year old kid apart, and then "suddenly" realized that was the wrong thing to do when it backfired on her?

February 28 2014 at 5:51 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Arguably yes, one should not connect "blindly," but in practice I have connected to people I have not met nor worked with, but were in the same profession and/or were associates of those I do know. I have always supplied a reason for connecting, as Ms. Mekota did so respectfully, and I have accepted many offers to connect from students in my profession. This was a situation in which Ms. Blazek should have used a canned rejection in neutral language. Also, it would seem that there is a need and an opportunity for a competing job bank in the Cleveland area.

February 28 2014 at 11:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to kharley471's comment

"Canned rejection?" There is nothing to argue about when it comes to an arrogant response that is being directed at someone who is looking to seek employment in this economy. If anything, Ms. Blazek should resign or disqualify herself from company just to save face. What she did was wrong regardless of whomever it may have been, one does not smear what one has while the other has nothing. Competition is inevitable in today's job market, the last thing anyone needs to hear is arrogant trash similar to this wrinkled bag.

February 28 2014 at 2:33 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Art1990's comment

Blazek is angry. Happy people don't go nuts like this. Even busy people don't have time for this. Blazek as problems and needs the help that she will likely get now!

March 01 2014 at 11:18 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down

Mekota is certainly resourceful. Linked In is a platform to build your professional network, to grow through other peoples knowledge. I don't really understand where Mekota went wrong. She attempted to grow her network and thought Blazek was the professional to help her gain the best connections with the most knowledge. I suppose Blazek let her guard down and showed her true self.

February 27 2014 at 10:18 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

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