Thursday, February 27, 2014

Eight Things Millennials Can Learn From The Kelly Blazek Fiasco

In case you haven't heard, Kelly Blazek runs a Job Bank in Cleveland, Ohio for people seeking jobs in the communications, PR and marketing fields. While her listserv boasts over 7,000 subscribers, it's an invite-only group, requiring you to submit a resume and/or an explanation of how you fit into one of the three fields listed above upon application.

Several people over the last few years have reached out to Kelly Blazek, asking to be added to her email list. While most people made their way onto the list without incident, there were a few people who received unkind (to put it nicely) replies from Kelly. And one apparently made the fatal mistake of attempting to connect with her via LinkedIn.

Rather than just ignoring these requests like a normal golden-rule-following American, Kelly decided that it was her responsibility to put these good-for-nothing, lazy, entitled Millennials in their place. I mean, someone needs to, right? No one in the entire history of the universe has ever spoken negatively of Millennials ever. Click here to read her responses. It'll blow your mind.

Here's the deal: we all need to be better about dealing with the word "no." If Kelly didn't want these people on her email lists, fine. But why not just send a "Sorry, you don't fit the criteria to be added to our email list. Have a nice day." letter? Why attack the recipient? I only say this because I don't want you to think that I believe the senders deserve pity, or that they deserve to be given something just because they asked for it. I don't. I DO believe that they deserve respect. Respect that Kelly Blazek didn't give them.

While I'm obviously writing this with a healthy level of snark, I actually don't care to trash Kelly Blazek any more. I'm not going to say anything about her that dozens of people haven't already said. BUT: I do feel like there are lessons that we as Millennials (and humans) can learn from this debacle.

Rejection happens. Deal with it. Sometimes, you don't get the answer (or the job, or the response) that you want. It happens. One of the things people love to criticize Millennials for is their lack of grace when dealing with rejection. Show them that you're mature enough to handle it.

Follow directions, man. Seriously. While there's absolutely no excuse for anyone to send such a scathing email to someone they don't even know, the reality is that Kelly Blazek HAS stated that she only connects with people she knows personally. If someone explicitly tells you not to do something, don't do that thing.

Don't get too caught up in social media stats. When you spend a good chunk of your time cultivating an online presence, whether it's through blogging, email groups or something else, it's easy to become obsessed with watching your numbers grow. Our girl KB obviously got too caught up in her social media bubble, touting her 7300 email subscribers and 1000 LinkedIn connections any chance she could. But at the end of the day, they're just numbers. Your friends, your family, and even your coworkers don't care how many people get your emails, or how many people respond to your tweets. They care if you're a good person. Don't get caught up in the social media bubble. It'll ruin you quicker than you realize.

LinkedIn IS for connecting with people you don't know. Contrary to what Kelly Blazek thinks, connecting with someone on LinkedIn is not the same as recommending them. There's a whole separate section for that. The entire purpose of LinkedIn is to connect with people - anyone and everyone - who could potentially help you find a job. No one ever complained of their network being too big.

If you ever end up with a "Communicator of the Year" Award, act like it. The irony of Kelly Blazek sending such a hateful email with "2013 Communicator of the Year" in her email signature is just deliciously ironic, right?

If you position yourself in a way that suggests you want to help people, don't be surprised when people, you know, ask for help. People aren't mind-readers, so be clear about your expectations. And if you hate people and their questions so much, don't create a job for yourself where your main responsibility is helping people.

Don't speak in generalities. I'm guilty of this one. I try not to be, but I still do it. We all do, because it's easy. It's easy to blame something on a group.
But here's the deal: we get frustrated (rightfully so) when we're grouped negatively as Millennials. We complain that it's not fair that we're all grouped into the same unfair category. But when we make blanket statements about the older generations, about how they're boring or anti-technology or economy-ruiners, we're doing the exact thing that we hate. And that doesn't do anything to help the us-vs-them dichotomy. It just makes it worse.

Nothing is private, and the internet is forever. Really. Forever. There have been some people who have stated that the recipients of the emails should have just kept them to themselves and moved on with their lives. I disagree. There is obviously a pattern of douchery in Kelly Blazek's interactions with people she considers beneath her, and that should be exposed. With that said, you should always assume that your communications will be forwarded, published, or otherwise distributed. Nothing is truly private anymore, and it's absolutely astonishing to me that people keep making mistakes like this and then act totally surprised when they get caught. Get it together, people!

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1 comment:

Dani said...

These are good tips to know. I really think more people need to know them. I feel it will help our society and economy.

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