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Dear Kelly Blazek, Thanks for Teaching Us a Lesson in Employer Etiquette

Not since Justine Sacco, whose notorious tweet created a controversial firestorm, has a professional communicator’s communications landed them in hot water — and the national spotlight. But this one will hit close to home if you’re an employer, recruiter or staffing professional whose job entails interacting with job seekers in any capacity.

Kelly Blazek — the head of Cleveland Job Bank House and a 2013 International Association of Business Communicators ‘Communicator of the Year’ — is “a senior communications executive who enjoys helping others in the profession.” She has described herself as a “frequent speaker on creating a gamechanger resume [and] professional presence.”

According to a write-up in the International Association of Business Communicators, Blazek has said: “I’ve always been a passionate advocate for keeping talent in NE Ohio, and we have so much of it in the region. I want my subscribers to feel like everyone is my little sister or brother, and I’m looking out for them.”

Request denied: Who do you think you are?

You may be wondering why I’m prefacing what I’m about to say with her credentials and accolades — and it’s for a good reason. If you’ve become known for helping job seekers and top talent locally, the last thing you probably want to do is write scathing notes to talent looking for local jobs, right?

But here’s a little snippet of how Blazek responded to an innocent job seeker asking how she can get plugged in to find a job: “[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?”

Here’s another sample from her treasure trove of professional communications.

“Your invite to connect is inappropriate, beneficial only to you and tacky. Wow, I cannot wait to let every 26-year-old job seeker mine my top-tier marketing connections to help then land a job. … I suggest you join the other Job Bank in town. Oh wait — there isn’t one. You’re welcome for your humility lesson for the year.”

My first thought: Surely this MUST be a Jimmy Kimmel prank.

There’s much more that you can check out here. But too bad if you want to try to get ahold of her — she has shut down both her LinkedIn and Twitter accounts as well as her blog. (Not that she would’ve allowed you to connect anyway.)

Hours after her email responses went viral, she issued an apology: “Hundreds of people contact me every month looking for help, and 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.” Um, ya think?!

UPDATE: It appears she, or someone else on her behalf, is slowly getting back on social, as her Twitter account had tweeted an update about her apology Wednesday morning. Not to mention a Twitter account called “The Other NEO Job Bank” run by millennials has just popped up to serve job seekers in Cleveland.

You may also be interested in reading “Six Concepts Brands Should Understand About Social Media Etiquette.”

Employer etiquette refreshers

In light of this debacle, we thought we’d offer up a 2-minute refresher in etiquette when it comes to communicating with job seekers. So, even if you’re having a rough day or you’re becoming impatient, hopefully you’ll think twice before taking it out on an innocent party.

  • Always Be Courteous — it’s the ABC of communication. It neither takes more time nor effort to use a pleasant, positive, polite and professional tone when crafting any kind of communication — verbal or written — with job seekers, but it can make a world of a difference in their eyes.
  • Put yourself in the job seeker’s shoes. Being able to empathize with the candidates you’re communicating with is the first step toward understanding how to effectively communicate with them and avoid needless miscommunication.
  • Assume whatever you say or write is publicly available. I say this because we live in a digital era where thoughtless social media posts can make or break your company or public image. Just ask Kelly Blazek. Before you speak or write, stop and ask yourself if you’d be comfortable if someone leaked that quick message you’re about to dash off to the public.
  • Do what you say you’re going to do. Talk, as they say, is cheap. And you don’t want to give job seekers or the general public the impression that you don’t make good on your promises. So if you tell candidates you’ll get back to them in two weeks, get back to them in two weeks — even if it’s to say you haven’t made a decision yet or that you’ve decided to go with another candidate.
  • Don’t “school” job seekers, advise them. What I mean by that is that if there’s a critique or constructive criticism you want to offer up to a job seeker — such as not to call five times a day to check in on the status of an application — advise them as you would your niece, neighbor or friend.
  • Don’t make vague — and condescending — generalities. Please don’t say things like, “I love the sense of entitlement in your generation.” It will not only make you sound ignorant, but it will also alienate other millennials.
  • Don’t chastise people with inquiries because YOU won’t get anything out of it. For goodness’ sake, not even on your worst day should you utter things like “What in the world do I derive from accepting a stranger’s connection request?” or “Your invite to connect is inappropriate, beneficial only to you and tacky.” (Isn’t that Communication 101?) If a job seeker approaches you with an inquiry you think is self-serving, it’s because for whatever reason they find it to be a legitimate question, so try to answer it to the best of your ability and move on.

Tell us in the comments below: What employer etiquette tips can you offer to your peers? Have you come across any communication faux pas that we can all learn from?

Deanna Hartley

About Deanna Hartley

Deanna Hartley is a senior copywriter and community manager on the creative services team at CareerBuilder, where she writes about issues that are top of mind for employers and recruiters – including talent acquisition, employee engagement and retention. An avid social media user, Deanna is the face behind @CBforEmployers on Twitter as well as CBforEmployers’ Facebook and Instagram pages, so it’s easy to stay connected with her. Prior to joining CareerBuilder, Deanna was a senior editor for the Human Capital Media Group, publishers of Talent Management, Chief Learning Officer, Diversity Executive and Workforce Management magazines. Deanna holds a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. She loves caffeine, social media, pop culture and dogs – though not necessarily in that order.


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