A Job Seeker’s Guide to Business Cards

Business cards are still a prominent way to exchange information during a networking experience. Job seekers often ask if they should have business cards. To answer this, I asked my favorite expert on this topic, Matt Youngquist, owner of Career Horizons (www.career-horizons.com).  I wholeheartedly agree with his answer:

“You know, while I don’t think business cards are absolutely critical, I DO think it makes a lot of sense for the average job seeker to obtain a set – since the cost is so low these days and it just makes it easier for you to share information at networking events and such.  So you bet, I’d still definitely recommend it, and would encourage people to check out places like www.vistaprint.com and www.clickbusinesscards.com to find the best deal.  Also, in addition to including their standard contact info on the card, and possibly their LinkedIn address, I’d also suggest people put at least a QUICK statement about their career focus or what they do for a living to help jog peoples’ memories down the road.”

He’s right about putting that quick career focus statement on the card!

I’ve seen many business cards made on Vistaprint and they looked great.  However, another option is to make your own cards.  If you want to do this, here are a few things you should consider:

Cost

If you’re in career transition, your budget might be tight.  And, while the above companies are very reasonable, the thought of making your own might be tempting.  Consider, though, that you’ll still have to pay for card stock and spend time designing your card.  You’ll also need a tool/app that allows you to make them like Publisher.

If you want a double-sided card, be sure to position your stock correctly in the tray, so the back side is not upside down!  You’ll end up using more stock than you had planned.

Today, I checked Vistaprint and found their least expensive cards are 100 for $16; 500 for $20.  You’d still need to design your card but they’ve got a great online tool where you can create them yourself.  They will also do it for you for a fee, if you prefer.

Quality

The goal with making your own cards is to reproduce the look and quality of a card you’d give out if you were employed:

  • Paper—If you’re buying your own stock, make sure it has some weight to it.  Paper thin stock can seem cheap—probably not the message you’d like to give out!  Seek advice from office supply stores, a printer or graphic designer or order it online.
  • Check the edge style before buying and make sure the stock has smooth edges rather than perforated that you’ll need to tear apart.
  • Inkjet printers are fine but remember that the ink on your cards will run if they come in contact with water or other liquids.   I would highly recommend laser printing to avoid this scenario.  Most print companies have Laser printers.   NOTE:  Make sure that their printer’s margins will match the ones on the document you created.
  • If you want to use color, the ink you choose online may appear in a different shade or hue from the printed product.  If you’re going through a printing firm, ask them to match the color as closely as possible. (Unfortunately, this may cost extra!)

Style

Companies like Vista Print have a variety of templates you can choose from to create your card.  Another option is to have a graphic designer make one for you, giving you maximum input on the end product.  If you have a card you like a lot from someone else (or from a former job) use it as a model for the designer, so they understand what you’re looking for.

Etiquette

If you think about it, no one is obligated to accept (or even ask for) your business card.  If they don’t ask for it first, the best way to give someone your card is:

  • Get permission—“May I give you my card?”  Some people prefer not to carry cards.  They’d rather give your their card and have you send them an email with your contact information.
  • Give them one card—not multiple, unless they ask for more.  Or, ask for permission to give them more.  I’ve had people shove a handful of cards at me and my reaction is not positive, as it seems they’re assuming I’ll become their marketing source.

The plain and simple truth is: some people don’t carry business cards.  They use that as an opportunity to get cards from others.  That’s okay, but you could be missing out on an opportunity. If you have business cards with you, even if the recipient might not have an opening that fits your skill set at the moment, they may know someone who does.  It’s very common for professionals to pass along cards they’ve received from job seekers to friends and colleagues.  Having a card is one great way to help others help you!

 

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