Our innovations editor, Katherine Goldstein was on Reddit on Thursday for an “Ask Me Anything.” She responded to reader questions about Slate’s editorial decisions and gave job search advice on résumés and cover letters. A transcript of her answers is below, edited for clarity.
MariaDanger: What do you think is Slate’s (and other websites’) responsibility to writing exciting/sensational headlines and tweets that attract a large number of readers vs. boring yet descriptive headlines/tweets that may be less attractive? In other words, what’s your attitude about click-bait?
Katherine Goldstein: I think Slate editors are very conscious about not click-baiting, and ultimately I think it’s self-defeating to do it. We never want someone to click on an article and feel cheated in any way. To us, social sharing is highly important. You can’t trick people into sharing, they only share if they find something compelling in some way. People won’t share articles that don’t deliver on the headlines’ promises.
donaldgately: While I do enjoy a good drunken moose story now and again (they provide a chuckle), is this a headline we should see next to something like, “The Case for/against Attacking Syria”? Is there supposed to be a homogeneous scope to news provided by individual news outlets, or is it viewed more as a one-stop-shop (i.e., get your “serious” news and get your “drunken moose stories” all in one place)?
Katherine Goldstein: I can’t speak for all news outlets, but Slate is a general interest publication, and we cover a huge variety of topics, and frankly I think we do lots of important, serious journalism. In terms of presentation and promoting on twitter, I think readers like and respond to a big mix of stories. We want there to be something for everyone.
Salicious-: What is the biggest mistake that recent graduates commonly make on their résumés? How should students best use their time in college to prepare for the job market? Do you think that unpaid internships are fair to students, and should they be allowed?
Katherine Goldstein: I think the biggest mistake young’uns make on their résumésis that they are way too long. Recent graduates don’t have tons of work experience, but they still have a hard time editing and deciding what is actually important.
In terms of preparing for the job market, getting experiences in real world work environments is crucial. Academia is way too much of a bubble and doesn’t give a lot of practical work skills. I do think unpaid internships can be extremely valuable for students in making connections and getting experience, however, I definitely recognize there is a serious economic bias in who can afford to do them.
umbo23: What’s your take on cold emailing? Contacting a hiring recruiter or an employee at a company that you would like to work at?
Katherine Goldstein: I definitely think it’s fine to cold email hiring managers, that’s their job. If you are going to cold email someone who works at the company you are interested in, you should really do your homework about them, the company and how you could fit there before contacting them. But a personal intro to someone you’d like to network with definitely goes a long way if that’s an option. I’m not a huge LinkedIn user, but I know some people dig it for this sort of thing, so don’t be afraid to use it.
toddjolmstead: What would you say is the biggest way the social space for publishers has changed in the time you’ve been doing this job?
Katherine Goldstein: The biggest shift is that publishers see social as a major way to drive traffic, which was not the case five years ago at all. Facebook, Twitter and Reddit are all in the top five referrers for Slate. We get millions of visitors from social sites, and that influences how we think about content. We think about social sharing in how we frame articles, which is a big shift.
mangoesmangoes: How can you tell from a cover letter whether someone is savvy on social media and the Internet? Or do you usually leave that to their social media profiles to convey?
Katherine Goldstein: I am definitely looking for people who link to their profiles and also describe some of their habits. Someone who says, “I look at Twitter on my phone before I’ve even had my morning coffee” tells me more than “I love social media.”
grantburkhardt: If I’ve recently started a new job but see a posting for one that I would want in the future, should I still apply knowing that I would burn bridges by packing up and leaving the place that just hired me? Does applying—with a good cover letter, of course—at least get me on the radar for future job listings?
Katherine Goldstein: Sometimes I think people talk themselves out of trying for things. You don’t know if you’d get the job, or if you definitely want to take it, so you would have to cross the bridge when you get to it. I don’t think there is harm in applying and putting feelers out there.
snapmedown: So my problem isn’t the résumé or the cover letter—I usually get the interview and subsequently blow it. I feel like I either overshare, over-namedrop or just come off as overbearing. What do you recommend to have a grand-slam media interview?
Katherine Goldstein: Do your homework on who you are interviewing with. Come prepared with questions to ask them about the company and the job. If execution is a problem, get a savvy friend to do a mock interview with you and give you good feedback and pointers, so you can feel really confident going into the interview—that way you’ll be less likely to get nervous.
chairmanmeeeow: Katherine, any advice on breaking into the job that you have—social media strategy? I’ve worked for years in online publishing (writing, editing) but want to go into, ahem, a less expendable side of the business. Are there classes I should be taking? Or pro bono projects I should be working on to build my skills and qualifications? Thanks!
Katherine Goldstein: If you have the chance to run any company or website’s social media feed, definitely take it. It’s great experience. Also, take your own social media presence very seriously. If you work at any small news outlets that don’t have large teams, volunteer to help with running social media accounts, or offer to start one. This would all be way more valuable to your resume than just taking a class.