I have just received information that the annual campus placement circus has begun in business schools all over India. In fact, I am told, someone in a school in Hyderabad has been made a job offer of Rs32 lakh in annual salary and a Rs3 lakh signing-on bonus.

(I am inclined to believe that an offer of this generosity must have some form of rider associated with it. “Employee must be willing to travel extensively to both domestic and international destinations. Luggage will be provided by the company and must not be opened in any circumstance. At destination, luggage must be promptly handed over to one Mr Jaggu Bhai. Identification: Yellow T-shirt and eye-patch. Left eye." Or something like that.)

But in any case this seems a good time to collate some important campus placement tips. These may be useful to students currently preparing for the circus, and is meant to help them make informed choices. So that when they join their campus recruiters, and then quit after six months, they have obtained maximum value from the experience.

The first issue on many students’ mind is this: Isn’t this whole campus placement thing a capitalist conspiracy between business schools and companies to ensure a steady supply of fresh, unsuspecting blood to man mediocre jobs? Maybe I should just hit the road and walk into offices with my resume.

Analysis: You are correct. Campus placement belongs in the pantheon of capitalist conspiracies along with “Sodexho vouchers", “Privilege leave accumulation" and anything with “cash-back".

On the other hand, walking into an office with just a resume and self-confidence is a good way to connect with the organization’s security guard intimately. And even if he lets you in, you will end up meeting someone who will promise to get back to you. And then instantly turn your resume into one-sided paper.

Solution: Use the campus placement process to break into the corporate world. Then network feverishly till you make the right contacts. Who will then help you find your dream job. Fight capitalism with capitalism comrades.

The next critical doubt is this: Do I have to wear a suit for my interviews? After all they are evaluating me for my mental horsepower. Not sartorial brilliance.

Analysis: You make a valid point. There are, in fact, many companies that hire people purely based on their intellectual ability.

But only according to their pre-placement presentations.

In real life even if you wear just a funky Bugs Bunny tie with an otherwise sober ensemble, companies will make small talk about the tie and then hire the guy who looks like a Moti Mahal maitre d’. This will force you into alternative careers in journalism where you spend life writing office culture columns. (Hypothetical example.)

Solution: If you must go eclectic, limit to belt buckle innovation. But nothing that emits light or noise.

The next issue: Should I trust everything that a company tells me? Is it possible that companies lie about things just to convince me to join them?

Analysis: Let me begin by saying this: Enron. Ha. No what I really meant to say was this: Raju. Kidding. Actually you need to think about the whole interview process as a form of suit-clad courtship ritual. The undercurrent is one of entrapment. The company, first of all, is expecting you to pass off a few iffy things on your resume. Things like: “School champion in shot put" or “First class with distinction".

In return the company is going to make tall claims about things like “fun at work policy" (two coffee machines, one with soup) and “global career prospects" (sales office in Colombo).

Solution: Take everything with a pinch of salt. But don’t be a complete cynic. And most of all remember this: Bernie Madoff.

Penultimate issue: I think I’ve impressed them with my sober suit and impressive interviews. They are offering me a Rs16 lakh per annum package. Should I negotiate? How much will I take home per month?

Analysis: First of all don’t say “lakh per annum". That is so pre-liberalization. Please use the acronym “lpa". Say after me: “16 lpa". Good.

Solution: Haggling over salary is a good way to show how fearless and independent-minded you are. Most of all it opens up a world of opportunities for the fellow just below you on the shortlist. Silence is golden American Express corporate card.

As for salary calculations, you can use these thumb rules: Around 30% will go straight as tax. Then there is a 12% Provident Fund “contribution". Also deduct other retirals, professional tax and any bonus component. Net net your take-home will be one very old, heavy laptop without USB ports, one 17kg laptop bag and at least Rs25,000/month less than what you thought when you did the math.

Final issue: Should I be taking advice from a random office culture columnist?

Solution: Never. Best of luck.

Cubiclenama takes a fortnightly look at the pleasures and perils of corporate life. Your comments are welcome at cubiclenama@livemint.com