March 3, 2014

Dear Recruiters: A Humbling Lesson from Kelly Blazek

woman leaning on desk thinkingDear Recruiters, Hiring Managers and any other HR professional,

I read a story today that truly disturbed me. According to news outlets, a job seeker (and recent graduate) by the name of Diana Mekota sent a LinkedIn request to Kelly Blazek, who reports say is the head of a well-known communications job bank in northeast Ohio.

Below is Blazek’s response:

Poor Judgment on Your Job Seeking 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 jobseeker 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” [scribbled-out name] 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 for your humility lesson of 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 connections.

Don’t ever write me again.

To say that I was shocked, disappointed, and ultimately, frustrated after reading her email would be an understatement.

A young woman reached out to this senior-level businesswoman hoping to make a connection. And of all places she decided to do this on LinkedIn, the no. 1 social networking site for professionals. Blazek is correct: The audacity of a job seeker to attempt to connect with someone on LinkedIn who holds a position of power to help her in her job search; what in the world was she thinking?

Blazek’s email disgusted me, and I hope it not only disgusts every HR person who reads it but forces him or her to take a long, hard look at his, her and the individual’s company’s hiring practices.

When did a job seeker—and in this case, specifically a millennial—become less than human? When did job seekers begin to deserve being disrespected by senior-level officials during their job hunt? Because Blazek is higher up than Mekota this means that she can speak to another human being any way she pleases? Because Blazek is employed and has senior-level status somehow gives her the privilege to talk rudely and disrespectfully to others “beneath” her?

I’m here to tell you, HR pros, title, degree, certification and pay rate have nothing to do with whether or not you show respect for another human being, whether employed or not.

I love how Blazek talked about Mekota being young, green, coming from an entitled generation and not understanding how business connections work. To that I would like to tell Blazek about my friend, also a millennial, who wrote the CEO of a Fortune 500 company in Phoenix asking for a meeting. The CEO was so impressed with my friend’s determination that he offered him an internship, which led the company to create a full-time role specifically for him.

Job seekers are doing whatever they have to do nowadays to stand out from the crowd. They are no longer waiting for opportunities to come to them, but pursuing their goals first—and this includes pursuing a large network.

You may call this notion “green” and “entitled” but others see it as being assertive, and there are many examples of where this assertiveness and unconventional approach has paid off in the end for job seekers.

Instead of being so harsh to this young woman, Blazek could’ve used this opportunity to educate Mekota if she felt her approach was unprofessional. HR professionals, please remember that you were once in the shoes of today’s job seekers. And please also understand that many younger job seekers always have a ton of do’s and don’ts hurled at them. Some choose one path while others create their own, but ultimately each one is simply working to reach his or her goals.

It’s difficult for a job seeker when HR professionals are constantly telling you to network and reach out, yet when someone does, cases similar to this arise where job seekers are ridiculed and treated disrespectfully.

You all are busy, tired of sifting through applications and have to meet deadlines; we get it. But your heavy workloads during the hiring process do not justify disrespectful practices. Job seekers get tired as well as they spend hours tailoring resumes and cover letters, taking assessment tests and filling out applications and waiting for callbacks; yet, they’re still expected to be professional when dealing with higher ups. Please, HR professionals, return the favor.

As clearly evident with Blazek’s email, it only takes a quick social media post for you and your company’s reputation and brand to be hindered. Don’t end up like Blazek; she thought she was teaching Mekota a lesson in humility and ultimately learned one herself.


A (millennial) job seeker

Read more in Job Search Advice

Marks’ stories have also been published in a variety of newspaper, magazine and online formats including The Arizona Republic, The Daily Herald, Arizona Foothills Magazine and various classroom magazines of Scholastic Inc. Service is her passion, writing is her platform and uplifting and inspiring the community is her purpose. Marks received a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication from Arizona State University.
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