When I was in high school, my science teacher suggested we contact public figures who inspired us. This was a timely suggestion, as many of us were starting to think about college and career paths. With early access to the World Wide Web, growing up in Silicon Valley, I happened upon Carl Sagan‘s email address and sent him a note. Though I never heard back, however, the email took a considerable amount of craft and self-examination that would benefit me as I emerged into the job market.
A few years later, after college, I applied for an entry level job at KGO 810 talk radio in San Francisco. I got turned down, so did what all of my parent’s friends told me to do: I called KGO and asked their HR rep for advice on what I could have done better. The HR rep replied with some snide remarks that KGO was the best of the best, yadda yadda yadda, implying that I didn’t have the qualifications to even think about applying for their entry level jobs. She then told me to read the “Machiavellian texts.” Odd. But before I could reply that I had, though didn’t think it was relevant to put that on my one-page resume, she had hung up.
However, this was before social media and particularly, Reddit, the link- and story-sharing site that seeks out just these types of scenarios and, often, protects the weak who might receive confusing or inflammatory replies from those in positions of power. Fast forward to 2014, and Diana Mekota is just that person emerging into the job market that Reddit likes to protect. Their target is Kelly Blazek, Cleveland’s so-called “Communicator of the Year,” who apparently didn’t want to hear Mekota’s job inquiry and let her know in a blistering reply via LinkedIn. From CNN:
“Your invite to connect is inappropriate, beneficial only to you, and tacky,” Blazek wrote, according to Mekota’s post. “Wow, I cannot wait to let every 26-year-old jobseeker mine my top-tier marketing connections to help them land a job.”
And she was just getting warmed up.
“I love the sense of entitlement in your generation,” she wrote, then continued. “You’re welcome for your humility lesson for 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 network.”
She wrapped up with: “Don’t ever write me again.”
I don’t have a record of my conversation with KGO 810, and I don’t hold a grudge against Sagan for not writing me back. But if I received an email like this, I might do just what Mekota did: write a polite reply, then get Blazek’s email out to the likes of Reddit and Buzzfeed. Sound malicious? Sure. But with power, as in Blazek’s case, comes accountability. More importantly, presenting oneself as a victim on sites like Reddit, like Mekota has done, can lead to a slew of new opportunities as people flood the submitter with job opportunities of their own.
In a sense, getting a nasty reply truly is, “beneficial only to you.”