Cleveland job seekers and recent graduates have spent the day discussing the terribly rude and self-centered email that Kelly Blazek, head of the Cleveland Job Bank, sent to an innocent and, from what I read, hardworking young professional and job seeker.
As a recent college graduate and a former job seeker myself, I feel it’s important to discuss Kelly’s response to the individual who requested her help because I fear her attitude is indicative of how many C-level professionals from other generations view my generation. In particular, I’d like to discuss her “I love the sense of entitlement in your generation” comment.
First of all, what ambitious and educated person doesn’t have a sense of entitlement? After all, we were all told when we were little that if we studied hard and got into a good university, we could live a comfortable life and support ourselves. Keyword here? Support ourselves. Instead, upon graduation, we entered a world where the economy was bad, jobs were hard to come by and student loan debt was larger than ever before. Despite this, we worked unpaid internships, did volunteer work and tried to better ourselves in hopes of standing out from the many job applicants out there.
So, why wouldn’t we feel kind of entitled to at least have a job that could help us support ourselves? Is that asking too much?
Here’s another interesting thing to keep in mind: in order to get a large majority of jobs in this country, you have to get some kind of education. Even many blue collar jobs require some kind of vocational school or training of some sort, and we pay for this education in hopes of getting reimbursed in the form of employment. Not everyone is cut out for higher education, however, and that’s totally okay. Our brains are not all the same, and that’s okay. Making individuals pay for school just so they can get a low paying job, only to beat down their confidence and increase their debts, is not okay. It’s something I really hope to see changed in the future.
I’m sure Blazek had good intentions when she started the Job Bank. Perhaps she recognized the fact that we all don’t come from a circle of coveted connections that can easily let us obtain any job. I’m certainly not one of these people. My parents, both extremely hard workers and very smart individuals, felt terrible when I called them one day, only to explain that I asked my college advisor for advice on how to find a job after graduating, and received the response “The economy is bad. Use your family’s connections.” The Job Bank helped people who didn’t have those connections find jobs, and that’s great. I personally frown upon letting a less qualified candidate get a job over a better qualified candidate only because he or she had a good connection. Sadly, that’s the way things work, and there’s not much we can do about it.
Blazek’s response, however, didn’t help. To beat down a well-qualified young professional who is most likely already low in confidence from job hunting does not instill the hope that recent graduates need. To refuse access to her LinkedIn connections is childish and, most importantly, sad. I’m sure those connections don’t even want to be connected with her anymore.
Kelly, here’s my advice, and it’s something I’m sure you learned back in preschool: If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it. Give us a white lie maybe… tell us that it’s becoming easier and easier for penniless graduates to get jobs, tell us that our talents will shine above the rest, tell us that Cleveland is a wonderful place to work and that its high-tier professionals are ready to welcome us all with open arms. If you can’t do that, or if you at least can’t decline someone politely, I’d suggest it’s time your bank closed.