kelly blazek

In defense of @NEOHCommJobs’ bullying of job candidates

February 25, 2014
12131 Views

kelly blazek In defense of @NEOHCommJobs bullying of job candidates

How the “mother” of job listings lashed out at candidates

Kelly Blazek is well known in her neck of the woods for having over 960 LinkedIn connections, a bi-monthly email list (“Cleveland Job Bank House”), and an active Twitter account (@NEOHCommJobs). But if you live outside of Cleveland, you may now know her as the sender of several abrasive emails to job seekers looking to connect with her or her lists.

Last week, 2013 IABC Communicator of the Year, Kelly Blazek responded to a stranger’s request to connect with her, which has made the rounds in BuzzFeed Community Forum, and Imgur, and today, Cleveland Scene got a hold of the following email thread:



Advertise at AG

Hello Kelly,
My name is , I currently live in Chicago and am planning on moving back home to Cleveland in the next few months. I was born and raised in Cleveland and am excited to come back, finally. [A] friend of mine referred me to your Yahoo Group and I requested admission, but was denied.

When I told [my friend] about this, he told me that contacting you was the best way to gain access to the group. I am currently active in the employment market and have been in Technology Sales for the past 4 years.

What is the best way to gain acceptance into this group, so I can help find a job?

All the best,
[redacted]

Simple enough, but this is how Blazek responded:

[H]ow about starting with NOT presuming I would share my nearly 1,000 personally-known LinkedIn contacts with a TOTAL stranger? How bush league to pull that stunt. It’s what kids do – ask senior executives to link in to them, so they can mine contacts for job leads. That’s tacky, not to mention entitled – what in the world do I derive from accepting a stranger’s connection request? You earned a “I Don’t Know ______” from me today, for such an assumptive move. Please learn that a LinkedIn connection is the equivalent of a personal recommendation. If I haven’t heard of someone, met them, or worked with them, why would I ever vouch for them on LinkedIn?

My Job Bank is a gift of my personal time and effort to benefit my profession. It’s a privilege to help thousands of jobseekers – but I have my limits. You have not earned the right to ask me to connect on LinkedIn, and your Yahoo Group request was denied because you didn’t provide any information when you requested membership – or failed to respond to a request for more information that indicates your background is a match for the jobs I share.

No more questions or requests. Please tap into the other job seeker resources in NE Ohio for your search.

Kelly Blazek | Principal
Gemba Communications, LLC
2013 IABC Communicator of the Year

But wait, there’s more bullying

In addition to that gracious email from the communications professional, the following is also allegedly penned by Blazek:

Lights out for @NEOHCommJobs

After all of the letters went public, visiting her Twitter page now looks as follows:

twitter deleted In defense of @NEOHCommJobs bullying of job candidates

Why she and others should definitely bully others

I have no idea how many LinkedIn connections I have because I don’t find much value there, personally, but it’s over 500, so by Blazek’s connections, I would be within my rights to rudely respond to a request to connect.

I also created and operate a Closed Facebook Group called “Austin Digital Jobs” which I think has over 5,500 members, so by Blazek’s standards, I would be within my rights to rudely respond to any new requests to connect.

Our company has an email database that is hundreds of times the size of Blazek’s, so by her standards, I would be within my rights to rudely respond to a request to join any of our email lists.

It makes sense, right? I mean, she’s a pretty big deal, so why wouldn’t she respond rudely? I mean, Mark Cuban responds to emails without belittling people, but this douchey lady in Cleveland is so high and mighty that she should most definitely bully people that are using social networking tools to actually network.

I’ve hurt a few feelings, but come on

Look, I have a group similar to Blazek’s, and I’ve hurt a few feelings in the process by calling spam out for being spam, and it is a pretty time consuming task to keep the group focused on legitimate jobs instead of event postings, fake Nikes for sale, work at home scams, and so forth.

With thousands of people, it can become tiring, and I do rule with an iron fist, so I can relate to Blazek, but I do not rule with that iron fist for my own self interest or because I’m so important that I should bully anyone that is below me in the caste system, rather, I am aggressive with rules to keep the group clean, focused, and so that members don’t get barraged with garbage. I get messages every single day thanking me for keeping the group on task, and I will always keep it that way so that the group actually has value.

Blazek was clearly trying to keep value in her little worlds, but to be so cruel is completely uncalled for, so while I am here to defend her for… no wait, it’s indefensible. And on top of that, who in the hell uses Yahoo! groups anymore? Most of those “members” are likely defunct, just like my 20 Yahoo email addresses from college. Lady, your comprehension of social media AND of communications is what is rookie here, not a polite request from a stranger to which you reacted like a wild hyena that just took crack for the first time and is getting acid thrown in its eyes as it is walking across hot coals.

I bust my ass with a jobs group that I don’t get paid for, because I want to give back to my city in yet another way, so I just can’t understand why she would proclaim herself the Godfather of a city and make people kiss a ring while she builds her “personal brand” on their backs. I call bullshit.

One of my friends summarized Blazek’s behavior perfectly: “Karma’s only a bitch when you are.”

UPDATE: Blazek carefully pens an apology after the emails went viral – are you buying it? Tell us in the comments.

AGBeat Chief Operating Officer: Lani, named 100 Most Influential, as well as 12 Most Influential Women in Blogging, Bashh Founder, Out and about in Austin A Lister, is a business and tech writer and startup consultant hailing from the great state of Texas in the city of Austin. As a digital native, Lani is immersed not only in advanced technologies and new media, but is also a stats nerd often buried in piles of reports. Lani is a proven leader, thoughtful speaker, and vested partner at AGBeat.


  • TheRealLisaG

    As a member of the private group Lani runs I’m grateful for both her generosity and her awesome ability to be a hardass when called for. Blazek’s hardassness is rather incomprehensible to me.

    • Lani Rosales

      Well said – the hardassness makes no sense, given the circumstances. It’s not like the messages she responded to said something like: “hey, hooker, let me in yo group, I gotta tell peeps bout the job where they can get paid $75 and hour just for using the innernet!”

  • http://smhoenig.com SMHoenig

    This story resonates deeply with me. I’ve been both a job searcher and a recruiter. I have acquired first-hand experience that we are between worlds.

    My dad retired after 37 years at the same company. That world is gone. The new one is still coming into focus. I have to believe there’s a way we can all row the boat together as we strive for the same misty shore(s).

    It’s so astonishing for somebody with her reputation as a communicator and connector to behave so corrosively. Honestly, I asked a friend on Twitter, by DM, if maybe she’s got a brain tumor eating away at the part of her brain that governs Niceness. Or maybe she was hacked over the long term? Or, in other words, WTF?

    • Lani Rosales

      I long debated what could possibly cause this type of reaction, and like you, I wondered about her personal life. But even personal crisis is not an excuse for being a bully.

      Thanks for a thoughtful comment on the changing tides!

      • http://smhoenig.com SMHoenig

        Also this:

        She coulda had a V8.

  • Noboru Akimoto

    Thank you, Lani, both for making ADJ a joy to be part of, and for calling this behavior out for what it is.

    • Lani Rosales

      Oh wow, thanks for the compliments, Noboru! :D :D

  • Lani Rosales

    Exactly.

  • John Egan

    Lani, I know for a fact while you might be blunt in responding to something like this, you wouldn’t be as outrageously bitchy as this woman was. As I said on Facebook, she should have kept her rejection short and sweet and moved on. Why spent so much time spewing so much vile? It’s not worth it. And now she’s paying the price in the public arena.

    • Lani Rosales

      Oh wow, thank you John, that means a lot coming from you (I know you have high standards!), and you’re right – it took a lot of time to be that rude. It would have been less rude if she ignored their requests, don’t you think?

      • John Egan

        Seriously, it would have consumed far less time and energy to just not respond. Think before you hit the send button!

  • Melissa Zavala

    Lani, In “The 4-Hour Workweek” Ferriss talks about how impossible to reach people are actually easier to reach than expected. Having dealt with the big banks’ executive offices and in some other personal experiences, I’ve found that those that we might consider to be in the upper echelon are actually quite easy to access because they are so kind and warm. On the flip side, you have some people in the middle, like Blazek, who clearly do not see the world through the same lens. I believe that this might be an example of the Dunning-Kruger Effect… Great story!

    • Lani Rosales

      I have just Googled the “Dunning-Kruger Effect,” and I can’t agree with you more, smartypants!

      And you’ve made a great point – some of the busiest, most high ranking people in this world take the time to talk to the “little people.” I’ve read that when Bush was the Governor in Texas, he’d come to the capitol early and make the rounds in the lower offices and knew every assistant and secretary’s name in the building and their story. If he can do that, this lady can consider her own place in the universe.

  • eightofeight

    the bait and switch on the title is smart to get views, but frankly, i feel played.

    dont hate the player hate the game?

    • Lani Rosales

      Hate the player or the game, I’m down for either :)

  • Lani Rosales

    JP, I think humiliation is a good term for what happened to the recipients, and although I don’t wish Blazek to feel that same humiliation, I do hope that as she turns her social media accounts back on slowly, that she learn the privacy settings as well as the new culture of each.

    Thanks for your comment!

  • Lani Rosales

    Debbie, indeed, and I hope that this is a learning moment for her and that the community learns to forgive her as she takes the first steps back into her daily grind. She doesn’t deserve to be permanently ousted, and I don’t think her award should be taken away as some have suggested, but she did inflict unnecessary pain which is a leaning moment for us all. Like @disqus_yj87SE2qio:disqus said, think before you hit send – there’s a human being on the other end of that email.

  • Lani Rosales

    Jim, for what I believe a small and decreasing number of Millennials, there is an attitude of entitlement, and thank you for pointing out that same sense of entitlement Blazek displayed.

    Trust me, running a job board is NOT glamorous, but it’s also not a reason to be self-important.

    I’ve written a lot over the years on the topic of Millennials, and I have come to the conclusion that it isn’t necessarily widespread, but typically limited to the inexperienced who haven’t experienced that first step in climbing the ladder yet. From the bottom, the ladder doesn’t look so tough to some, but it can be extremely difficult, especially once you’re in the middle.

    Thank you for a thoughtful response and for pointing out the ironies in the letters!

  • http://www.NarissaJohnson.com/ Narissa Johnson

    In reading her email response the only thing that popped into my mind was that she was not in her right mind. The message was not a moment of irritation – that was the result of longtime pent up frustration. It is time for her to pass the project on to someone else. It’s a shame she was representing the communicators in the community.

    • Lani Rosales

      Narissa, I totally agree, but I don’t think this is a moment of weakness or personal crisis – this has been going on for years, she’s just now being put on a national stage without clothes on.

  • http://amyvernon.net/ AmyVernon

    I was pretty stunned when I first saw her letter. I wondered how true it was. Her apology leaves no shadow of any doubt that she wrote what she did.

    I think that we all have had those frustrating moments where we’ve WANTED to say things like that to someone who pinged us at just the wrong time. But for someone who’s a comms pro, she proved not to be much of a pro.

    • Lani Rosales

      Exactly.

  • arturocoto

    Seems that at some point, Kelly may have had good intentions to help her city and built a network by marketing herself as THE best job bank in Cleveland (because wait for it… there isn’t another one).

    She was willing to put in the effort, build up the network, help those that followed her strict rules and built her personal brand. However, it appears now that it was for the wrong reasons – what it appears she wanted was power / recognition for her efforts.

    Unfortunately, I’ve seen this happen to other people that achieve a certain status or position of power. The best leaders are those that do good for altruistic reasons and expect nothing in return. Sure, they may have rules but they don’t kick someone when they are down – they try to guide and help. And that’s why I respect and am grateful for what you do for Austin Lani. Peace.

    • Lani Rosales

      Oh wow, thanks, what a kind compliment! What Kelly fails to realize is that, as you alluded to, she’s NOTHING without all of those people clamoring for jobs. It’s the people that make a GROUP, otherwise, it’s a party of one. No one should ever lose sight of that when building any type of community.

  • tarlcabot

    Well I can tell you from my standpoint, she has now been entered into our “Do not hire” database for the global company I work for. This is the same behavior equivalent to that other woman who tweeted about “hope I don’t get aids” before boarding a plane to South Africa – another supposed “PR” professional.

    • Lani Rosales

      Ouch. I think she deserves another chance – I bet she’s learned a pretty valuable lesson here… unless she’s off the wagon, I don’t think you’ll see any nastygrams from her for the rest of her life.

      • Salvian

        Lani – Disagree, what will happen is that the nastiness will get more subtle and she will sharpen up her act. She needs to change careers.

  • tarlcabot

    Her twitter is gone, her linkedin is toast – just like her career at this point.

  • Robert Batson

    Lani… Great response. Now that’s class!

    • Lani Rosales

      #blushing

  • billtheamerican

    Man she screwed up big time. I hope she can’t find another job herself but that probably won’t happen. She’s obviously well connected and I wouldn’t be surprised if some big wig somewhere thinks this is good that she flamed this kid for absolutely no reason. I can’t but wonder if this type of cronyism is keeping the 30 and 20 somethings from finding a decent job these days.

    • Lani Rosales

      I don’t think that’s what’s keeping Millennials from finding jobs, but I do think it is exactly what causes distrust between generations – a lack of respect. She felt disrespected, so she returned that disrespect, which will now be superimposed on other people 50+ in the workforce by those who have been abused. Not good.

  • Nate Ru

    I would be completely embarrassed to be one of Kelly Blazek’s 960+ LinkedIn contacts right about now. The thing to do is to unconnect with her, and have her try to send requests to build it back up.

    • Lani Rosales

      She’s gone dark online, so that won’t be a problem.

  • http://overtonecomm.blogspot.com/ Kami Watson Huyse

    When you are responsible for running a thriving local community, you should never make the mistake of believing it is yours. While you may be doing the work, the community itself decides to be a community. At any moment, they could all leave behind a wasteland. Good manners should never be trumped by self importance.

    • Lani Rosales

      PERFECT. I can’t add anything to that, @kamichat:disqus, you’ve nailed it. Thank you for a thoughtful response!

  • Lani Rosales

    @kayayeokay:disqus you’re the reason I felt confident in publishing this story – I am not convinced that these nastygrams are the only one. You don’t go from 0 to 60 in 0.0 seconds, it takes time to grow confident enough and test it out before you know how to whip someone. How unfortunate; I’m sorry you went through that, no one deserves it!

  • Lani Rosales

    “There’s a setting for that, dear.”

    LOVE IT.

  • TheLoneDissenter

    Kelly Blazek destroyed her credibility and reputation in an instant with one poorly-thought-out response to a simple and polite online request. A cautionary tale for all to adhere to.

    I hope her ability to earn an income suffers greatly after this debacle … Man, does she ever deserve it.

    • scotty501

      not response.. RESPONSES

  • Puppyfoot

    There is not defense.. apparently she thought she was bigger than she was. Even if she was defending her group… she seemed to relish and enjoy her response to these people.. I wouldn’t doubt it put her in a good mood to exercise her power over the group in such a fashion. Get owned.

    • Lani Rosales

      Ouch. Maybe, but still, ouch!

  • Bill

    Joe Smith 1 (aka Kelly Blazek) lol. nice try Missy.. Your “career” is over. Anyone linked with your name in this field will be trash as well. Watch your highly prized 1000+ connections fall away.

    You’re not a Gatekeeper or a leader, you are a taker. You are getting everything you deserve, good luck playing in the corner by yourself.

    your nasty self centered emails are now world wide – just Google your own name and you will see it’s EVERYWHERE…

    Good luck with the job search, you’re surly going to need it.

    It appears that she has gone into hiding EVERYTHING and every website she is associated with is ERROR 404 MISSING.

    • Lani Rosales

      Speaking of, what an interesting PR play… a communications professional would embrace it, spin it, win, and move on… not run away. That, above all, will be what hurts her career.

  • Salvian

    Good Article.

    First off, this Ms. Blazek’s business is dead, finished, kaput. If she is smart, she will cut a deal to sell her contact list. Second point, she kind of fell into a “perfect storm” of complete frustration that most of humanity has with the job market right now. To many in the job market the process isn’t just unfair (which it always has been), but rather perfectly random, and brutally so. Except that it isn’t. It is a process that seems random on one side of the equation, but is very fixed on the other. Job seekers only to be put up as a “top 3″ sacrificial lamb out of 50 or so applications a few times in the face of a predetermined outcome to figure that much out.

    Last Point, it is tempting to write off the entire HR/Recruiting industry as a bunch of bent and
    nasty hustlers who have no real skills of their own save the political ability to wedge between a harried job seeker and a lazy hiring manager. Ms. Blaszek’s messages reinforce that meme in spades. That is not the case uniformly, but anyone who has been around the block has found exceptionally nasty people who are attracted to the power that this gateway function provides.

    Ms. Blazek may not have been one of those types when she started, but she clearly is one now.

    Again, it is important to state that most people in this field are not like this lady.

    Wrap up. There never will be a good time to act this way, but this was probably the worst time imaginable to have a blow up like this. The HR/Recruiting game is one that is screaming for a radical restructuring in its professionalism and it’s information transparency.

    • Lani Rosales

      You’re so right about the timing – wish I had thought of that when I crafted my response!!

  • Salvian

    Debbie, I believe that you believe what you say, but I am not buying it. I think you have been worked. I do think that she feels bad for her career and her reputation. I do not think she cares one whit about the people on the to: line of those messages. In fact, my guess is that if she could engineer a payback for this, she would do just that.

    Even if you are right, it hardly matters, the trust in this area has been so decimated that there is no way her reputation survives this. I would seriously reprimand anyone in my organization that used someone like this to have the most important input in our most critical decision – who we hire. There are some things that you can’t recover from. This is one of them.

  • Salvian

    Good Article.

    First off, this Ms. Blazek’s business is dead, finished, kaput. If she is smart, she will cut a deal to sell her contact list. Second point, she kind of fell into a “perfect storm” of complete frustration that most of
    humanity has with the job market right now. To many in the job market the process isn’t just unfair (which it always has been), but rather perfectly random, and brutally so. Except that it isn’t. It is a process that seems random on one side of the equation, but is very fixed on the other. Job seekers
    only to be put up as a “top 3″ sacrificial lamb out of 50 or so applications a few times in the face of a predetermined outcome to figure that much out.

    Last Point, it is tempting to write off the entire HR/Recruiting industry as a bunch of bent and nasty hustlers who have no real skills of their own save the political ability to wedge between a harried job seeker and a lazy hiring manager. Ms. Blazek’s messages reinforce that meme in spades. That is not anywhere near the case uniformly, but anyone who has been around the block has found exceptionally nasty people who are attracted to the power that this gateway function provides.

    Ms. Blazek may not have been one of those types when she started, but she clearly is one now and no one in their right mind would believe that her apology is anything more than a hustle.

    With all of that, it is really, really important to state that most people in this field are not like this lady, but your industry has problems, serious ones really.

    Wrap up. There never will be a good time to act this way, but this was probably the worst time imaginable to have a blow up like this. The HR/Recruiting game is one that is screaming for a radical restructuring in its ethics, professionalism and information transparency.

  • scotty501

    There were at least THREE DIFFERENT NASTY RESPONSES

  • http://www.chrisshouse.com/ chrisshouse

    Wow I can not even comprehend that type of behavior. Your friend is right what goes around comes around and Karma can be a bitch! As usual Lani your cutting edge stories are a joy to read.

    • Lani Rosales

      Chris, thank you so much for the kind words! Cleveland.com broke the story, but we were certainly the first to craft a response.

  • Lani Rosales

    There is such an award, but some believe she will be stripped of her award.

  • Lani Rosales

    Well said!

  • Lani Rosales

    Really great point. We are all jerks sometimes, but it appears there is a pattern here.

  • Lani Rosales

    I think you’re probably right. I hope not, but you probably are.

  • Lani Rosales

    Amen!

  • Lani Rosales

    I’d be shocked if she wasn’t signed up for Cat Facts Texts before this is all said and done….

  • Lani Rosales

    Hopefully this will give her a dose of humility. I’m not holding out hope, though.

  • Lani Rosales

    I wanted to think she was having a bad day, too, but the pattern established over the years is consistent, so I’m afraid that’s not likely the case. Good on YOU for offering something to the community, recognizing your own gains, and recognizing that the point of social media is to be social.

  • Lani Rosales

    “Mean-spirited” is a good way to describe it. I would be hurt if someone responded in that manner. Beyond unprofessional.

  • Lani Rosales

    Best part of your comment: “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.” YES. THIS.

  • Lani Rosales

    Right!? Numbers don’t mean diddly in today’s market. Anyone can pay a click farm to “Like” their Facebook page, and so on. Any day, I’d take 10 attentive people over 1,000 strangers who don’t care.

  • austinsho

    Rudeness is never excusable.

  • DMB

    I was nervous when I read the title to your editorial, pheww!! :) I always like to see how people treat the little guy… if a person treats the little guy with respect it makes me admire and respect them. If someone treats the little guy badly, it totally turns me off and I just am left with a negative impression and it would make me think twice about collaborating with them. (I would try to find out if something was wrong in their personal life, you never know!) We are all human here regardless of a person’s job title, social standing, etc. My grandfather was a bank CEO and he LOVED to reach out to young and old (job seekers and employed), he got a thrill out of connecting with people with different point of views and found value in everyone. People loved him because he made them feel they had value. He dealt with farmers, people who didn’t finish their HS degree, college grads, rich, poor, young and old, execs from all sorts of industries and he connected with them with humor and humility. You would never know the person’s status based on his interactions with them. He was a true people person and I think it helped with his success in life. He came from a struggling family, fought in a war and then worked his way up the ranks and always gave back, just like people did for him. And you never know if that little guy/gal will turn into a big guy/gal down the road. never be nasty, never burn bridges.