How Job Seekers Can Benefit from a Well-Designed Business Card
Table of Contents
- Non-business use of a personal card
- Historically, before a card became a “business card,” it was a “calling card.”
- Who needs a company or job title?
- Job seeker’s card can include more information than typical business card.
- Using your personal business card in your job search.
- A sample job seeker business card
- Some final tips.
Maybe you’re thinking, “I got laid off. I don’t have a business any more–or a title. So how can I possibly use a business card?”
Good question. The answer requires seeing past your assumptions about business cards.
Non-business use of a personal card
Everyone understands the need for business cards when making professional contacts on the job–whether those contacts are with vendors, customers or clients, potential customers or clients, or business referral sources. But many fail to see the benefits of handing out business cards to people they encounter outside of the work context, including purely social or community encounters.
It may help to think of a business card as a “calling card,” or “personal card,” that need not be for business use exclusively – or even at all.
Historically, before a card became a “business card,” it was a “calling card.”
It was commonplace in earlier times to hand someone a personal “calling card” as a means of passing on contact details and raising one’s profile. Such a card had nothing to do with representing a particular business. Here’s a nice historical description:
In the 19th and early 20th century, social interaction was a richly cultivated, well-mannered affair. The tool that facilitated these interactions was the calling card. Calling cards streamlined introductions and helped remind people of new acquaintances and needed visits. The calling card also served as a way to brand your social identity.
“Old Country” tradition
My grandfather was raised in a well-mannered, upper-middle-class European family. After he retired and was living in Canada, he had very simple cards printed. They had only his name, address, and phone number.
No company or job title–he was retired.
He traveled a lot and enjoyed meeting people on his travels and then later corresponding with and visiting them. His cards struck me as both snobby and somewhat pathetic, as if he wished he still was working and had business cards–or was still a wealthy Continental gentleman. Now I see that exchanging cards worked for him as a social facilitator, as they can for anyone involved in networking–including job seekers.
Tradition of social calling card revived as “Mommy card”
This “calling card” tradition is re-emerging among parents, who find “Mommy cards” (Daddy cards, anyone?) useful in setting up play dates, carpools, communicating information about children’s food allergies, etc.
No company. No job title.
Who needs a company or job title?
Even those accustomed to using their business cards when meeting people in non-business situations tend to see them as tied to their identity as an employee of a particular business.
When their employment situation changes, they can’t very well use their cards from their former employer while seeking work, so they can’t imagine a way to use a business card effectively in their job search.
With this view of the use of business cards, with the emphasis on “business,” the job seeker’s question about how to use a business card while unemployed–with no business and no job title–is understandable.
I mean, what does one use for a job title? “Job Seeker”? “Still Collecting Unemployment”?
Of course not. Think outside the box. Think about your card as a personal card, a calling card, even a mini-resume. This will help you determine its contents.
You are the company. You are the product. You are the brand. You create the logo and select the design, the colors, the fonts. Be creative and express yourself. Bet you didn’t really like the look of those old cards anyway, did you?
You can either skip the job title or make one up. No, I’m not suggesting dishonesty. When I mean is you can simply use a descriptive title unconnected with any organization.
For example, if you’re an unemployed bank employee perhaps your old cards had one of those nice “Vice President” titles (but an ugly bank logo). You can’t say that’s your title anymore, and you probably don’t want to say “former bank Vice President,” but you can say “Financial Services Professional” or “Experienced Banking Executive.” And if you have an MBA or special certification, you can put it after your name.
Job seeker’s card can include more information than typical business card.
With the growth in technology and communication channels, businesses, recruitment agencies and individuals alike all have to adjust to a new way of interacting.
You should be using at least one of the following social networking sites, and preferably all three, as each can be useful in a job search:
Make sure your card has your urls for these networks (as well as your email, of course). But don’t forget to scrub your content and set your privacy so that potential employers don’t see something that hurts your prospects.
Using your personal business card in your job search.
Business cards allow you to portray a professional image while encouraging people to contact you in the future regarding services or offers that may be of interest or beneficial to you. They can be of particular use when attending social or professional gatherings and job or career fairs.
These business cards are not restricted to potential employers but can also be handed out to anyone who can help in your job search. As a job seeker, you should be actively networking and attempting to build relationships with industry experts and key trade employees. This can be done through the use of a well-designed and effective business card.
However, in such job-search networking situations, a business card should not be used as a substitute for a CV or resume, but rather as a snapshot or supplement to it. In some situations, even though you’re not applying for a job, it is entirely appropriate to present someone with both the card and your resume. You can even start the conversation with the card and end it with the resume. People remember best what comes first and last!
A sample job seeker business card
I created this two-sided card online. With just a few more clicks of the mouse and a credit card, I could have ordered them!
On this card, you can see several ideas discussed here:
- Design is catchy and memorable.
- Job seeker’s name (“Joe Da Driver”) where company name would normally go.
- Generic job title (Over-the Road Driver) with additional catch-phrase for experience (“Accident-Free Driving Since 1992″).
- Both LinkedIn and email included.
- Back is mini-CV/resume, listing several key qualifications trucking industry employers look for.
Some final tips.
- Your business card as a job seeker should be neat, tidy and contain relevant contact details and, if possible, a list of skills you have obtained through education or previous experience within a sector.
- Your networking card should be used as a mini snapshot of your CV, listing key accomplishments. Create a sleek and professional looking card that you will be proud to share at job fairs, social and professional events.
- If you have a CV online that has been uploaded to a recruitment site then always include on your card the url of the relevant page, to allow easy access and viewing.
- It is crucial to use contact details that are current and relevant. There is little point in handing a potential employer a card with an email address on it that you only check occasionally. After all, by handing business cards out to people, you want to make it easy for people to get in touch with you.
- If you’re looking for a new job while still employed, don’t include contact details of your current employer! Instead, set up a separate email account and/or telephone number that you regularly check to manage your job-hunting communications.
A business card can help to improve a person’s first impression of you. By presenting them with a personalized and professional-looking business card, you are heightening the chance of them calling or emailing you in the future and they are able to put a face to the name; adding a human aspect to the increasingly mind numbing process.
By simply having a business card although you are not employed, you are psychologically creating a more confident and professional image. You’re not just another guy or gal who got laid off, but a professional or expert ___[fill in the blank], who has real value to offer!
Business cards are not confined to those who are formally employed or looking for a regular job. Think of them as networking cards. As such, they are equally useful for the self-employed, freelancers, and even students. A networking card can generate a lot of relevant traffic to your social and personal platforms. It can help a student get an internship or initiate a relationship with a visiting speaker, to name a few uses.
By offering somebody a business or networking card you are seen as offering your services to them, rather than asking recruiters and potential employers to serve you by offering your work. The importance of a well-designed business card should never be ignored. Be creative about the information you include. There is no longer any such thing as a standard business card format, and you can definitely use the back side effectively.