Tag Archive: Return on Investment


How many graduating university/college seniors in communications disciplines (i.e., public relations, marketing, investor relations, public affairs etc.) will utter the  worn-out cliché to hiring managers in the coming weeks and months: “I really work well with people”?

Gag!workwell

What precisely is the return-on-investment (ROI) for someone who allegedly works well with people?

How does one measure how effectively a candidate interacts with other humans?

Come to think of it if one was pursuing a career in anything and everything communications, wouldn’t working well with people be a given?

Tell me something – anything – that I don’t already know.

There are precisely 1.490 billion results when one Google’s, “I Really Work Well With People.” Surprised there are so few web instances devoted to this NOT thinking outside of the box phrase.

Almost DailyBrett will declare now, and will say it forever:

Telling a hiring manager you work well with people: 1.) Makes the hiring manager roll her or his eyes; 2.) Brings into question whether you have any creativity; 3.) Does not differentiate you from your tenacious competition for the legal tender; and 4.) Makes one wonder whether your brain has flat-lined.workwell1

Strong opinion to follow.

Tell Me/Us About Yourself?

At this point in the interview process, the hiring manager is transitioning from the requisite small talk to getting serious.

The above question, which surely will follow with “Why do you want to work for us?” is more than an ice-breaker. It is an opportunity for a candidate to systematically demonstrate ROI based upon experience, results, digital and analog skill sets and education.

Think of it this way: A dollar is a friend (same applies for pounds, euros, yen …).

An agency, corporation, non-profit, governmental agency has to spend a certain amount “friends” in the form of income statement SG&A salary, benefits, time-off and maybe even stock options to hire you as opposed to someone else or no one at all.

Why should they make this investment in your particular personality, talents and skills? Aren’t your type a dime a dozen?

Instead of the throw-away line about working well with people, how about talking about how you collaborate in teams and what you and your teammates accomplished? Everything should be first-person plural: We, Us and Our.

Teaching digitally oriented public relations, advertising, integrated marketing communications (IMC), blogging/social media, corporate communications and investor relations now at Central Washington University and before at the University of Oregon, our students were always required to work together as teams to reach assigned goals for their clients.

This experiential learning approach does not require each student to love or be loved by their teammates, which is asking too much. Instead, a hands-on collaborator needs to respect and be respected, which is the essence of being a good team player.

Instead of tired verbal Pablum, how about demonstrating with concrete examples how you teamed/collaborated with others to cure cancer, climb Mt. Everest, achieve world peace and break political gridlock in Washington, D.C.?

The candidate with real-time results, which can be quantified and verified, and who didn’t take all the credit but collaborated effectively with others, has a better chance – a much better opportunity – of being hired.

The Stark Difference Between Anxious and Interested

Let’s be generous for a second:

In most cases, the candidate who feels compelled to blurt out how well he or she works well with people (or others … a distinction without a difference) runs the real risk of coming across as hungry and anxious.workwell2

Hiring managers are not welfare agencies. They are not there to feed the hungry or heal the sick. They are there to recruit the best and the brightest to solve problems and perform miracles.

Some candidates feel compelled to incorporate “objectives” right at the top of their resumes, declaring they are seeking a position in a given field.

Well, duh!

Didn’t you already make that point in your cover letter?

The smart applicants start with a “profile,” detailing their individual value, accomplishments and what she or he is bringing to the party. These wise contenders immediately demonstrate through concrete examples their ROI.

They also speak in the language of the company, the agency, the non-profit, and the public sector agency.

Instead of “you know,” “you guys,” “me and my team,’ and Almost DailyBrett’s favorite, “stuff,” the prepared applicant talks about driving the top and bottom lines, fiduciary and corporate social responsibility, and enhancing SEO and SEM.

In short, they speak the language and signal it will not take long to become totally fluent in whatever serves as the Raison d’ etat for the entity doing the hiring.

Yes, the wise candidate understands very clearly how the hiring manager’s company makes money, which even applies to non-profits.

As you will note, this is not the first time your author has written about this subject. Just like cock roaches this offending phrase instead of going away is actually multiplying.

It’s time … not it’s past time … deep-six this horrific, “I really work well with people,” before another hiring manager has to excuse herself or himself from the table.

https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=I+Really+Work+Well+with+People

https://www.livecareer.com/interview-questions/how-well-you-work-people-you-prefer-working-alone

http://jobsearch.about.com/od/interview-you/qt/working-with-people.htm

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2013/11/15/the-20-people-skills-you-need-to-succeed-at-work/#74d85a6264b5

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/07/18/online-college-not-good-enough-for-pr/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/06/08/i-really-work-well-with-people/

 

 

 

Couldn’t believe my ears.

Did my post-graduate classmate in “Teaching and Professional Life” just state ex-cathedra that (being) “mean is awesome” when it comes to teaching impressionable undergraduate college students?larrysumners

For some reason, the author of Almost DailyBrett can’t just simply vanquish these words, uttered by a Ph.D candidate in communications, from his personal DRAM.

Sure wouldn’t want to be in her classroom.

The question for today is whether this brand of arrogance, callousness and potential cruelty is reaching epidemic proportions on college and university campuses?

What blew me away is that some were actually nodding their heads in affirmation.

I couldn’t agree less.

Who Are Our Customers?

Almost DailyBrett is not universally loved by privileged graduate teaching fellow (GTF) types, so these next thoughts may not be especially well-received either.

When it comes to colleges and universities, who is paying the bills (e.g., salaries, benefits, stipends)? Besides donors and grants, the main answer lies with parents/guardians of students, the students themselves waiting tables, taking out loans or the combination of all the above.

The Economist reported this week that average annual fees at private universities are $31,000 and approximately $10,000 at public universities. The typical college student, who may spend up to six years on campus, will be saddled with $40,000 in debt whether or not she or he graduates.studentloans

And you want to be mean to these students and by natural extension, their families?

And wouldn’t one think that since these students are indeed a prime source of college/university largesse, the service providers (e.g., professors, instructors, GTFs) would actually be nice to their “customers?”

What’s that?

Some believe strongly that colleges and universities should not be run like businesses? They are mostly non-profit. Right? So they should be oriented toward searching for the truth rather than preparing students to find a job? Maybe that attitude und Weltanschauung is at least partially the source of the meanness.

Mentoring/Not Meanness

Academic politics are so vicious precisely because the stakes are so small.” – Former Secretary of State and Harvard Professor Henry Kissinger

Let’s face the truth.

College and university faculty meetings are generally not happy gatherings. Hours are spent in academic debate, but little if anything changes with the exception of tuition, fees and administrative hirings going up.

Some faculty members have a difficult time impacting their own worlds, so they are not usually in a good mood entering the classroom. This is where meanness and ruthlessness is carried out, just make sure every rule and regulation is included in the syllabus. Maybe, these particular faculty types are more suited to being bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.

Don’t get me wrong, faculty members (e.g., professors, instructors, GTFs) cannot be friends with students, but that doesn’t mean we should be enemies. We should care about our students, and the best teachers do just that.

This is where another “M-word” comes into play: Mentoring. We should not be teaching exclusively out of a book, but instead we should be providing real-time knowledge about how the professional world really works.

Our students should venture out into the work-place with their eyes wide open. They should be trained to speak not the words of students, but the language of the workplace. They should know the difference between the top-line and the bottom-line, between revenues and net income or loss.

They should embrace buy low, sell high. They should prove their own return on investment (ROI), not just their degree, but a record of solid experience articulated in cover letters, resumes and LinkedIn profiles.people1

If a student demonstrates and proves her/his preparedness for competition for publicly traded/privately held/for profit/non-profit positions, then we as educators should be willing to provide a graduating student with a reference and all the help that we can.

Will the mean professor do that?

Almost DailyBrett has found that very few things in life are more uplifting than reading/hearing about one of your former students being hired and embarking on what very well could be, a rewarding career.

Instead of being mean, let’s mentor with a little tough love, if necessary. Let’s encourage our students to seek out and attain the best anti-poverty, wealth-creation program ever invented: a well-paying private sector position with full benefits and maybe a stock option or two.

All it requires is a little TLC and some mentoring too.

http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21646219-college-america-ruinously-expensive-some-digital-cures-are-emerging-log

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/12/03/are-striking-uo-graduate-teaching-fellows-certifiable/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/12/27/dealing-with-online-hecklers/

http://quoteinvestigator.com/2013/08/18/acad-politics/

 

 

 

 

 

Really?

Did you just say that to a hiring manager?

Please tell me you didn’t just say that to a hiring manager?

Do you expect this person/organization will now magically hire you?

Have you ever heard of ROI?

Would you know ROI even if it bit you?

What’s In It For Me (WIIFM)?

June is the traditional month for white weddings, skating the Stanley Cup, college-and-university graduations, and oodles of newly minted graduates sending out cover letters, resumes and hopefully preparing for interviews.

people1

Are hundreds, if not thousands, also warming up the tried-and-true: “I really work well with people”? Maybe these folks should take that phrase and $4.00 to Starbucks for a grande mocha with no whip. Or maybe just the $4.00?

If you are pursuing a career in public relations, employee communications, marketing, investor relations etc., wouldn’t working well with people (e.g., target audiences, stakeholders, colleagues) be a minimum prerequisite for any job?

If the hiring manager returned fire, and asked you to provide examples of how you really work well with people, would you be gasping for air?

Maybe you should be approaching this interview in a different, less-predictable way.

Maybe you should put yourself in the shoes of the manager and rhetorically ask: “What’s in it for me?” At that moment, you realize that really working well with people doesn’t pay the bills.

Think of it this way: the hiring manager’s organization has to expend its limited capital to hire you. You offer your precious college degree. That is only your ticket to play the game. And you “really work well with people.”

What else do you bring to the party?

Buy Low, Sell High

The cardinal sin of job candidates heading into interviews is being clueless about how a company or agency makes money.

If an organization is going to spend capital for your salary and benefits, wouldn’t it be a good idea to know where this money comes from?

Almost DailyBrett strongly suggests that job candidates arm themselves with two differentiators:

1.)   Experience above-and-beyond the college degree

2.)   A working knowledge of the organization that is taking the time and effort to interview you and check your background (let’s hope it is a clean background).

Your resume, which can exceed one page if you have the data to support a greater length, should highlight with quantifiable results your work experience, particularly communications-related internships, projects and jobs. Be prepared to discuss your experience (e.g. summer internships with a PR agency), what you accomplished and how you interacted successfully in a team environment. (Isn’t that better than the generic: “I really work well with people”?)

If the hiring manager’s organization is publicly traded or if the hiring manager’s agency represents publicly traded clients, then you have a literal treasure trove of research available to you with just a few clicks on your mobile and laptop device.

incomestatement

After answering questions about your direct experience, can you imagine posing interrogatives to the hiring manager based upon your knowledge of the company’s income statement, balance sheet, CEO annual report letter or the company description in its required 10-K filing to the SEC?

Ditto reading the financial and industry analyst (they are not the same) reports about the company or the clients, represented by an agency.

If a company is going to hire you, wouldn’t it be nice to know that the organization has the means to pay you going forward. Don’t forget the axiom: Last hired, first fired.

“Why do you want to work for us?”

There is a nearly 100 percent chance that you will be asked some variation of the above question.

For some this question is a wicked curve to use a beisboll metaphor. For you, it should be a lazy soft ball ready for you to clobber it.

This “Why do you want to work for us” question is a great opportunity to reveal that you have done your homework. “Reading financial analyst reports this past weekend, I noted that (insert company) name is a market leader in the provision of … How can I use my digital and conventional media skills to support the company’s business strategy?”

All interviews come to a close with the hiring manager asking the applicant if she or he has any questions. And of course you will be ready, particularly with questions that show interest in the opinion of the hiring manager. (People love talking about themselves. It’s human nature).

people

And instead of sneaking in the traditional-causing-the-eyes-to-roll “I really work well with people,” you could instead talk about how you have been a team player and provide specific examples of how you have worked with others in accomplishing great goals.

Every organization needs good people, who work well in team environments, who bring solid experience to the table and who know the difference between revenues and net income (yes, there is a difference).

And they also know what the acronym, ROI, stands for.

http://jobsearch.about.com/od/interview-you/qt/working-with-people.htm

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2013/11/15/the-20-people-skills-you-need-to-succeed-at-work/

 

 

All social media sites are not created equal.

They are not monolithic. They are not one-size-fits-all.

Facebook gives you access to your “friends.”

LinkedIn provides you with “connections.”

In all due respect to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Sandra “Lean In” Sandberg, which group of people – “friends” or “connections” — is going to be most beneficial in finding a job, building a network or running down business leads?

Wall Street, based on the performance of the two respective stocks, knows for certain the answer to this question. Are you still not convinced and/or “connected”?

“In my opinion…you would be serving the department best by working in public relations,” – San Francisco PD lieutenant.

“Opinions are like a..holes, everyone has one.” – Clint Eastwood as Inspector “Dirty Harry” Callahan in “The Dead Pool.”

resume

When it comes to writing a cover letter, preparing a curriculum vitae or using social media for a job-search campaign, everyone has opinions. Here are some of mine.

Some contend that hiring managers and recruiters don’t read cover letters. I couldn’t disagree more. Every job worth its salt deserves and requires a carefully crafted, targeted cover letter.

Some say that hiring letters should repeat everything in the resume. I respectfully disagree.

Think of it this way:

The cover letter is intended to entice the hiring manager/recruiter to read the resume.

The resume is intended to convince the powers that be to bring you in for an interview.

The interview leads to references being checked and a big fat HR packet being overnighted to your place of residence.

Some worship at the altar of the one-page resume. I opine that your resume should tell your story, tell it truthfully, tell it completely and most of all, tell it well. And in this digital age where everything is submitted online…who cares (besides the Flat Earth Society) whether a resume takes more than one page? I don’t.

Some are relatively agnostic about LinkedIn. I say it’s time to keep the digital faith.

Upscale six-figure employment search strategy website, The Ladders, surveyed 30 recruiters and found they spent only 6.25-second on the average resume. In particular, they check out a candidate’s name, current title and employer; previous title and company; previous position, start/end dates; current position start/end dates, and education.

There is no reason to question this empirical research. Everything else in our digital-information-overload society is being reduced to 20-second bites, six-second videos and 140-character tweets, so it just makes sense that recruiters are spending only 6.25-seconds on resumes. What that means is that resumes need to effectively tell your story and tell it quickly and concisely.

The same is true with cover letters. They need to fit within the borders of one computer screen because they need to be cut-and-pasted right into the email. Don’t ask for someone to click on a document unless you want to risk her or him tapping the delete key instead.

And let’s not forget that recruiters are pounding PC and tablet keys to access their social media outlet of choice, LinkedIn.

So what are strategies that one should adopt in preparing a LinkedIn profile page? Here are few of my humble suggestions:

linkedin_logo_11

● Sweat the details when it comes to your introductory JPEG mug shot. One immediate difference between a conventional resume and LinkedIn is the ability to incorporate a photo. A good photo is worth a thousand words. What kinds of words does your photo convey about you? What does your photo say about your professionalism, competency and ability to work well in a team?

● If a recruiter/hiring manager is only spending an average of 6.25 seconds with a resume, conceivably the same can be true with your LinkedIn profile…unless you make effective use LinkedIn’s plug-and-play tools. Begin with a profile statement that immediately outlines your raison d’etre, your strengths and immediate Return on Investment (ROI).

●Add your blog. Add your PowerPoints. Add your videos. Add your conference papers. Add your awards. Add your published work. Add your classroom work. Recruiters think of LinkedIn as one-stop shopping, so should you. http://www.linkedin.com/in/kevinbrett

● One of the key differentiators between LinkedIn and a conventional resume is your digital profile goes so much further than a standard curriculum vitae. Besides the ability to incorporate your digital content, you can also use the social media to market your personal brand through the use of references. As opposed to the standard, “References Available Upon Request” at the bottom of a resume, your LinkedIn page can include a dozen or more references sprinkled throughout the recap of your present and previous positions. Word-of-mouth advertising is without a doubt, the best advertising.

● The Boy Scout motto is simply, “Be Prepared.” Don’t wait for caca to happen to you when it comes to your career, even if you believe your job is secure. Your LinkedIn profile is a living, breathing digital tool. You can change it anytime, 24/7/365. Don’t wait until you are surprisingly laid off or cashiered to start building your connections into a network. This is a process that should never end. Trust me, people notice if you have 500+ connections, and they want to know who has accepted your LinkedIn connection requests..

Think of it this way: Every connection is a friend. And just like dollars in my wallet, I want to have as many “friends” as I can.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2012/03/26/what-your-resume-is-up-against/

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303812904577293664148110928.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheryl_Sandberg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVlYMctb7Y4

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/07/17/linkedin-resume/

“…If you worked hard, you could do well enough to raise a family, own a home, send your kids to college, and put a little away for retirement.” – President Barack Obama’s 2012 State of the Union Address

“Millions of young Americans have graduated from college during the Obama presidency, ready to use their gifts and get moving in life. Half of them can’t find the work they studied for, or any work at all.” – Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin

Bok

“If you think education is expensive; try the cost of ignorance.” – Former Harvard President Derek Bok

It all seemed so easy.

Go to college. Get your degree. Land that first job. Build a career. Retire happy.

Or at least that was the plan.

It used to be that a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree from a reputable university or college was the ticket to at least a middle-class lifestyle. A graduate degree did not lead to an “overqualified” descriptor, but even better employment prospects.

Guess we have to say that the best laid plans of mice and college grads often go astray.

It’s not that Derek Bok is wrong. There is a wide gulf between those with college degrees and those who only graduated from high school, or worse, dropped out of high school.  That divide still exists, but only if you can find a job.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported for first time that there are more unemployed Americans who attended at least one year of college (4.7 million) than unemployed Americans who graduated or dropped out of high school (4.3 million). And these figures do not include the 14 million Americans who are underemployed or simply gave up the hunt for a job. Are there more underemployed college attendees than those who graduated or dropped out of high school? I wouldn’t bet against it.

gradsandduck

As a university instructor in public relations, I am deeply troubled that one-half of college graduates are not finding a job, any job. Mom and dad are shelling out tens of thousands of dollars and/or students are going deeply into debt only to face what could be a grim future, saddled with a ton of red ink.

The cumulative numbers are unprecedented and staggering: $16 trillion in national debt; 23 million unemployed or underemployed; a record 46.7 million on food stamps; 14 million underwater on mortgages; 13 million vacant properties; 50 percent of new college graduates can’t find a job.

Does this mean as one of my USC fraternity brothers wrote this morning that a college degree has become the equivalent of a high-school diploma?

Personally, I am optimistic but also realistic. Nearly two-thirds of students are heading off to the promise of post-secondary school. At the same time, the economic funk that has besieged the nation and most of the developed world will not end anytime soon. What should we as educators do to help prepare our students to effectively compete in order to be among the 50 percent that are finding jobs as opposed to the other half that are despondent and frustrated?

● Students will be hired that successfully address the Return on Investment (ROI) question. What’s in it for an employer to hire Student A over Student B? What differentiates Student A from Student B? In a 50 percent world (at least for the time being) the answer does not lie with, “I really work well with people.” Sorry that is a distinction without any difference. The real difference lies not with the degree, but a degree with meaningful experience (e.g., internship).

● We need to think of colleges and universities as professional schools. We should be preparing next generation professionals, not future conservative or liberal activists. Professionals will be hired. Activists will be in the streets, in tents or back at home.

● We need to equip students with the skills of a digital world: computation, science, verbal and written expression in the languages of the 21st Century and the ability to tell the story, and tell it well. Effective persuasion in the Lingua Franca cannot be effectively outsourced. The SEC will not look kindly upon quarterly earnings reports and CEO letters written in the third world.

● We must teach students that competition is permanent. We should also help them to understand that digital is eternal. That embarrassing under-the-influence photo, unrestrained offensive rant or display of inked and/or pierced private body parts via social media may be all the difference between Student A being hired or not being hired. Student B will not shed a tear for the what-were-you-thinking competition.

florida

 

● American Students also need to understand that a degree from a U.S. university or college is not a panacea. Students from all over the globe are rightfully yearning for their piece of the pie. They are competing, sometimes fiercely, and why shouldn’t they?

If a student chooses to pursue a college degree and move on beyond a high school diploma, it should mean something special. This may be controversial, but personally I do not see a college education as a preordained civil right or an entitlement. It must be earned. The same is true for beating the competition, engaging in lifelong learning and ultimately winning in the digital workplace of today and tomorrow.

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/most-unemployed-americans-attended-least-college-first-time-152523538.html

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/01/24/remarks-president-state-union-address

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0812/80423.html

http://chronicle.com/blogs/innovations/college-for-all-obamas-higher-education-agenda-part-3-of-8/31832

http://thinkexist.com/quotation/if_you_think_education_is_expensive-try/188916.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derek_Bok

Even though my Master of Arts diploma has been on my wall for the better part of two months, I took full advantage of the opportunity today to parade around in my gown, hood (not to be confused with “hoodie”), mortar board and tassel. This is my second graduation in 34 years.

This day meant the culmination of another of life’s journeys, but it is not the end, not even close…just another beginning.  In other ways, I have been very fortunate. In many ways, I have been very unfortunate. I will not whine. I will not complain. I will keep plugging on, and on, and on.

Two days ago, I indulged in upscale, sustainable, organic, free trade, shade grown coffee with a colleague of mine. He is 10 years younger and was noting that he is getting old as evidenced by his aches and pains. I didn’t want to hear it.

Am I in denial about age? Some can easily come to that conclusion, but frankly I don’t care.

Instead, I think back to the fall of 2010 taking Pro Seminar at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication.  The class was a deep dive into the philosophical writings of Descartes, Foucault, Marx, Locke, Mill, Kant, Hegel, Socrates, Plato and even more dudes who have been pushing up the daisies for many, many moons.

descartes

The nightly readings (about 50-100 pages) were dense, turgid, laborious and relentless. Miss one day, even a Saturday or a Sunday, and you were hopelessly behind. I had to learn to keep reading, regardless of whether I understood a paragraph or not. The goal was to be a sponge and absorb, and eventually a little light went on. One was starting to comprehend and understand.

Before taking the plunge into after-50 academia (not exactly the traditional response to a “mid-life crisis”), one of my best friends said I would do well because I am, “So good at bulls…” Alas, this particular “talent” doesn’t work in Pro Seminar: Either you know the readings or you don’t. BS is not an option as it will be exposed after the second sentence has left your mouth.

About mid-way through the 10-week quarter, our professor with an über-Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Illinois said that he was concentrating on each student’s “intellectual growth.”

“Intellectual growth?”

Me?

As I dived deeper into Pro Seminar I was coming to the realization that in my days as an agency PR team supervisor and as a corporate public relations director, I was only using a fraction of my brain. In carrying out my responsibilities, I was running so fast in delivering deliverables to clients there was absolutely no time to reflect, no time to contemplate and no time to smell the flowers.

Academia was demanding that I slow down, even though there were still deadlines for papers, abstracts and presentations. There had to be wood behind the proverbial arrow in the form of thought, application of theory and references for all cited work. Post-graduate work naturally teaches you how to write an academic paper as opposed to a business memo. There is a world of difference. The first is inflexible with rigidly prescribed rules. The second actually affords more flexibility as long as return on investment (ROI) is observed.

Another facet of academic work is the need for humility and to check one’s ego at the door. My master’s project, creating an upper division course, Strategic Business/Financial Communication, required about 12 iterations for a 61-page paper with about 140 citations and more than 15,000 words. At one point, my academic advisor cut-up my paper and taped it back together again to help me with my organization.

scissors

Today, it all became worth it as that very same academic advisor placed my master’s hood over my mortar board in front of 450 other students and all their parents, friends and significant others.

What made it the most rewarding is when one of my students and her parents came up to me after the ceremony. Her parents told me that I was her daughter’s favorite teacher, and they even invited me to dinner. My mumsy, sis and daughter were there to hear the accolade.  Have to report: I was beaming from ear-to-ear.

Guess that makes all the nights reading about Hegelian dielectrics worth the effort.

How do you follow a lecture about male and female condoms including a video demonstration about inserting the latter?

And in particular, how do you compete with an erotic discussion about “social marketing” (not to be confused with social media) with a lecture about financial statements, fiduciary responsibility and market psychology?

The answer is to remind students that it all boils down to dollars-and-cents and return on investment (ROI).

There is no doubt that condoms, both the ubiquitous male version and the relatively new offering for the female of the species, do help defend against nasty STDs. And I will humbly submit that knowledge about financial statements from the top-line-to-the-bottom-line may help guard against long-time unemployment. It may also make you wealthy and fiscally healthy.

Take a look at a 2006 PRSA/Korn Ferry International Survey of average salaries from public relations practitioners. Financial public relations/investor relations pros averaged $165,620 (serious money); Crisis management specialists, $150,000; Reputation management, $143,000; Public affairs (lobbying), $98,500 and Community relations, $59,910.

gender7

Yes, the survey has grown some moss in the last five years and the world is now in a global economic funk, but I seriously doubt the employer preference for those who know how to work with investors and positively impact share values has changed. There may also be some cross over between financial/IR and crisis management/reputation management, but they are all handsomely compensated.

When you take financial statements into account, a job applicant should be less prone to state that “I really work well with people” in an interview with a perspective employer. What is the ROI (return on investment) in that particular overused assertion? How can you separate yourself from your competition for a job if your only claim to fame is working well with people?

Keep in mind that any firm – profit or non-profit, private sector or public sector – is making an investment in hiring any employee. One of the primary factors for the nearly 10 percent unemployment rate is the massive amount of private capital sitting on the sidelines waiting for certainty from Washington and Brussels…err Berlin…something that may not happen until 2013.

And if these firms are making an investment, they are asking what is the return on the invested capital. Will this new employee get quickly up to speed? Will she or he bring existing contacts to the job? Does her or his prior have experience that directly relates to the job? Can she or he solve a particular problem? Does she or he speak our language? Can she or he become fluent in the lexicon of our company?

Corporate fluency includes understanding how a business operates. And this also applies to non-profits that are also governed by the tyranny of the financial statement. They may be not-for-profit, but at the same time they cannot consistently lose money if they want to stay in “business.”

investorrelations

Do you understand what constitutes the top line other than it is located on the top of the page? Hint it has to do with revenues. What about COGS? If you don’t know, you need to find out pronto. The same goes for gross margin. Is it expanding or contracting? Year-over-year? Sequentially? Is your function included in SG&A? If so, how do you feel about being an “expense?” Can you distinguish between gross margin and operating margin? What is the bottom line other than being on the bottom of the page?

Companies also must comply with GAAP, but some will also use pro forma or non-GAAP and are required by the SEC to reconcile the difference (Reg. G). Don’t be the reporter in Chris Roush’s “Show Me The Money,” who asked a CEO what the Southeastern Conference (SEC) had to do with his business…He was referring to a different SEC, the Securities Exchange Commission. Oops.

In this tough job environment, doing your homework prior to the interview is an absolute must. Included in this study is coming completely up to speed on the language of business and that includes the financial statement and fiduciary responsibility.

Adam Smith stated that the (fiduciary) duty of a capitalistic endeavor is to make a profit and remain viable. Economist Milton Friedman said the job of business is not only to survive but to do well.

So how can you help your perspective employer or present employer in doing well? If you can answer this question affirmatively and convincingly, you should do well as well.

Editor’s Note: I am presently working on my University of Oregon master’s project creating a course, “Communicating with Wall Street.” Any insights on market psychology, media relations, crisis communications, analyst relations, social media and employee communications are greatly appreciated.

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