Kelly Blazek and her viral rejection letter

I posted awhile back about Justine Sacco, whose tweeting debacle has faded into obscurity (for us, at least – I’m sure she is still facing the consequences). While browsing Twitter earlier, I came across a link to this Cleveland.com article about another professional using her social media accounts in a, well, questionable way (though this situation is very different), and unintentionally going viral.

To summarize the Blazek/Cleveland situation, Diana Mekota reached out to a job listserv with this communication:

She also requested a LinkedIn connection from Kelly Blazek, the head of the listserv. Ms. Blazek wrote her back with this message:

…yikes.

Now, perhaps Diana was a little bit presumptuous with her request to connect with Kelly. But that’s what we’re told to do when job searching: take risks, reach out personally, make connections. Do what you have to do. Hustle. I have sent out similar messages. Here is what Diana replied:

Over the past few days, these communications got a signal boost (specifically, Kelly’s response to Diana’s request) and backlash ensued.

Cleveland.com did publish an apology letter from Kelly Blazek, wherein she explained, “as the bottom fell out of the job market, their outreach and requests demanded more of my time. I became shortsighted and impatient, and that was wrong.”

On one hand, I feel some empathy towards Kelly and the public anger she’s now facing. I don’t wish that on her. On the other hand, this isn’t the first time she’s sent a nasty note to her peers.

That’s not how you treat people, professionally or otherwise.

Job searching is really, really hard. Since I graduated from college, I’ve had two jobs. I was really lucky to snag a stable position even before graduating with my English degree, and I held onto it through the recession. But I started applying for other jobs in 2010, and until I got my current position in mid-2012, I probably applied to several dozen positions. That’s a lot of cover letters.

And during that time, when I found an opening that sounded like a good fit for me, I combed my LinkedIn connections and other contacts to find a way to put a human touch on my application. I sent a lot of messages just like the one Diana sent, attempting to make the difference between getting a shot at a job and having my resume fall into a black hole. Ultimately, after those dozens of applications, I got my current job through someone I know who happened to post on Facebook about the opening, which validated my strategy of making a human connection in order to get an interview.

If I’d gotten a response like the one above, I admittedly would’ve been crushed. But there are lots of not-so-nice people in this world, and bad bosses, and corporate bullies, and it takes a thick skin to rise above it all. So perhaps this is a double-sided lesson: be careful what you communicate on the internet (uh, especially if your job is in communications), and roll with the punches that will certainly be doled out by this crazy job market.

Here’s another great post about this situation: Talk About An Unprofessional LinkedIn Response

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