The answer is an absolute “Yes.” I’ve been to far too many networking events where job seekers have attended unprepared. Yes it’s good to bring a stack of resumes with you (and even better to keep them in your car and/or have one handy at all times) but having business cards are especially helpful.
Why Business Cards:
Business cards are small, easy to carry and most people in the business world are used to dealing with them. Some people have Business Card Scanner
that can scan them into their contact management system. Others have a filing system for them.
Also, you can run into someone that can help you with your job search practically anywhere – the train station, the supermarket and even while waiting for service for your car. What sounds better: hunting for a scrap of paper to write your info on (and assuming that the other person can read your writing) or handing out a nice card that has your information clearly printed on it?
Using Cards From a Former Employer:
We’re all tempted to cut costs, especially in these difficult economic times, but this is one thing you want to avoid doing. I’m guilty of doing this because I had a stack of 300 cards from my employer and it was easy for me to simply cross out the business phone number and email and write my personal info on it. How professional did this look? Not very.
Business cards are cheap enough today (you can easily get 200 of them for less than $10) so it’s worth the investment. Although I don’t recommend the print your own type
(the perforations are tricky and the ink sometimes smears – plus they work out to be costly in terms of the paper and printer ink) this is a significantly better choice than using an old card from a former employer.
What to Put on Your Card:
Job seekers often don’t know what to put on their cards for things like title, company address, etc.. Here’s what I recommend:
- Your name: This should be the biggest piece of text on the card. Remember, this is your brand.
- Your email address: This is method of preference for contact. Make sure your email address has your name and not a nickname in it. Also make sure it’s not with your current or a prior employer. If needed, create a new email address through one of the free services out there.
- Your phone number: These days, your cell phone is the best option; otherwise, your home number is fine.
- Your address: This is optional as most people communicate through email these days. If you have a P.O. Box. , this is the best option.
- Your photo: This is also optional but a nice touch. Make sure it’s professional looking – you should be dressed professionally and neatly groomed.
- Your skills: The backside of the card is often left blank, but this is a great place to list out your key skills and qualifications. Consider it a mini-resume.
- Your URL: If you have a blog or website related to your work, definitely include it. Many people also include links to their profiles on social media sites such as LinkedIn. Only do this if your profile has things that you’d want a prospective employer to see.
What to Leave off the Card:
The same basic rule that applies to resumes applies here: personal information not relevant to helping you provide work should be left out. Also, corny quotes and activities and interests should be left out. Listing out prior employers is another no-no.
So these are just a few tips on how you can use business cards to help with your job search. Remember that you want your card to reflect a professional image so put the extra time and effort into it – just as you do with your resume. Happy hunting and good luck with your job search.
James Feudo owns the Boston Web Design Agency JVF Solutions and loves blogging about personal development and communication in his spare time.