Building a Brand or Burning a Bridge? Think Before You Hit Send.

This past month, I had an invitation to speak to an exclusive networking group in DC: Washington Business Journal’s Women Who Mean Business.  All executives, all female and they all wanted to learn about LinkedIn.  And not from a sourcing perspective… from a branding perspective.

We chatted quite a bit about crafting the ideal branding profile, components that can easily be modified, the best kind of photo to use, and the positives of recommendations and game play with endorsement bingo.  The components, text, photos, videos, sample presentations… they’re all very important in creating your brand.  But no discussion of personal brand is complete without a mention of engagement–how to engage and absolutely what not to say.  It goes hand in hand with who to connect with, who to endorse and so on.  The ladies that I was speaking to are very savvy and there was a collective look of horror when I posted the infamous Kelly Blazek email.  None of them could believe that anyone would send an email like that.

And then we started chatting about what a small world DC is, and how the Kelly Blazek email was a fiasco in Cleveland but the very same thing could’ve happened anywhere and the bridges she’s burned… it’s professionally devastating.  And the small world concept, it’s so true in a major metro area; it’s amazing how many people you will cross paths with if you put in minimal effort to network.  In many cases, that’s a positive if you’re job seeking, but if you flub up, and toss out a nasty gram… that’s not going to do well at all.

Unfortunately, in the recruiting industry, this behavior, i.e. the writing of crappy emails and sending them, is not new.  As recruiters and sourcers, our feet are held to the fire of candidate experience and there is a level of expectation to always do right and be kind to the candidate.  It seems like a no brainer, because again, it’s your personal brand at play.  At the same time,  it’s a two way street.  A friend of mine shared a couple of lines from an email that he received from a rejected candidate, and it was graphically unkind.  I wanted to ask him who sent that to him, because it’s not somebody I would want to place with any of my clients.

And then, there are the emails I get from potential candidates that are enraged that I would reach out to them about a job opportunity.  I do get a kick out of those… because I think having someone reach out to you with a shiny new opportunity is way better than having to hunt through massive job boards.  But that’s just me.

Here’s my thinking: advice for anyone… if you write in anger to a recruiter, a co-worker, a friend, your mom–never hit send.  Save the draft or hit delete.  If you really need to say it, then say it, don’t hide behind email.

FOT Background Check

Kelly Dingee
Kelly Dingee is a Senior Manager, Global Talent Acquisition for Marriott International. She has extensive sourcing experience having worked for Staffing Advisors (retained search), AIRS (training!) and Thales Communications, Inc., (cleared/telecom) and got her start in the profession while a full life cycle recruiter at Acterna (now known as Viavi). Lucky for Kelly, she had a boss who could see the potential of sourcing candidates from the web, and in 1998, she stepped into a newly created sourcing role. No truth to the rumor that she has a side business to help you push your resume to the top of Google search results…


  1. Laurie Langella says:

    Kelly, this is a perfect example of the reason I practice “Headline Correspondence” Whenever I feel like an email is headed in a less-than-rosy direction, I ask myself, would my integrity and career survive if this was tomorrow’s headline? Maybe it’s better to get on the phone or wait to converse in person. Electronic correspondence NEVER DIES!

  2. Matt says:

    One of the aspects of the personal brand is to remember that it is not about you. It is about the value you offer others no matter what your role is. Everything you say, write, and do is a reflection of you and therefore your brand.

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