At age 29, I was about to quit my writing job for the greener pastures of motherhood and freelancing (little did I know). Along with handing in my resignation, I wanted to tell my boss exactly what I thought of his autocratic management style. (I survived the job because of two co-workers, one of whom remains my best friend.) Fortunately, I often commuted with a wise “older” woman, the mother of two successful adult children. When I told her about my planned parting salvo, she urged me to resist, explaining, “The first six months and the last six months of any job should be your best so you wow them when you go in and make them sorry to see you leave. Also you never know when you need a reference!”
I heeded her advice and over the years passed it on to my children and my students. However, I fear that social media have made that advice obsolete as evidenced by two recent viral videos posted by millennials, one seeking work and the other quitting. The videos prove to be cautionary tales, not only to pass along to our adult children, but also for we Baby Boomers who must navigate carefully through a changing workplace populated by millennials with a compelling need to share everything online.
We all are aware the privacy is fast disappearing, from Big Brother NSA to Facebook posts. But is nothing private? The job-seeker tale begins with Diana Mekota, a 26-year-old planning to move to Cleveland, who wanted to access a local online jobs bank run by marketing professional Kelly Blazek. She contacted Ms. Blazek via LinkedIn, receiving in reply what CNN called a “verbal smack down.”
“Your invite to connect is inappropriate, beneficial only to you, and tacky,”Ms. Blazek wrote. ”Wow, I cannot wait to let every 26-year-old jobseeker mine my top-tier marketing connections to help them land a job.”
Yikes! Perhaps Baby Boomer Blazek was having a really bad day. Obviously there were better ways to handle the request, even ignoring it. The plot thickens when Ms. Mekota did not take the rejection quietly. In true millennial style, she posted the email on an online message board where it quickly went viral on Reddit and Buzzfeed. Ms. Blazek has apologized and has since deleted her social media sites, learning the lesson that when it comes to GenY never to put in an email anything you wouldn’t want shared.
The internet buzzed with reaction, and while most commenters agreed that a LinkedIn request did not warrant such a rejection, others questioned whether the resulting post was a smart move by a job seeker. In a CNN interview, Marian Salzman, the CEO of Havas PR, applauded Ms. Mekota’s initiative in trying to make a job connection but not her next move, saying, “Once the rejection got posted it made me very nervous. …Just let it go, not let’s share it with the whole world and turn it into a cause celeb.”
Sharing online is a standard practice for a generation that lives in cyberspace, and the truly savvy millennial knows how to make cyberspace work for her as evidenced by 20-something Marina Shrifrin. Last fall, she announced that she was quitting her job in a video that went viral and garnered more than 11 million views. [click to continue…]