The business card is a necessity of networking.
Not everyone will want a copy of your resume when you meet them, especially if it's at a professional networking mixer, a social function or even a party at your brother-in-law's home.
That's where the business card comes in. Creating business cards is the easiest part of any job search.
If you can spell your name and write your contact information correctly, getting a business card together should be a breeze. There are a few ways to make your business card stand out from the pack.
When you distribute your business cards at networking events, job fairs or conferences you will want your card to jump out yet leave a favorable impression.
Dave Taylor, an Internet veteran who has published 20 business and technical books and writes a business blog, suggests business cards must do three things:
Following are some of Taylor's suggestions, as well as those of other business card experts.
Determine the information you want on the card. Of course, you want your name, address, e-mail and phone numbers—work, home and cell phone. If your home phone is shared by your family you might consider adding a second phone number or second line during your search.
Check for typos. Double- and triple-check your information.
Give a description of your profession. "Child psychologist," "Web writer and producer," "team leader and machinist," "financial analyst" will give the card recipient at least a small idea of your background and talent.
Five or 10 words should take care of it. If you have other certifications or advanced degrees add them after your name but try not to overdo it. The downside is you may look like you're overqualified for many positions; it's a tough call as to when to highlight that information and when to keep it silent.
Get the cards professionally printed. In a rush? Many copy shops and printers can turn around business cards in hours. Some shops even offer their services online.
Some people use the back of the business card to list abilities. Some job experts, however, like the idea of leaving that space blank for potential employers to take notes. Like both ideas? You can compromise by listing your attributes on the back but leave room for someone to make a note or two.
Quality matters. Use thicker card stock rather than cheaper, thinner paper. It tells potential employers you pay attention to small details, like having a business card that does not crumple or tear easily.
Scott Ginsberg, author of "The Power of Approachability" and writer for the online site www.businessknowhow.com, believes in getting creative with business cards. He's seen business cards of different sizes and shapes, from triangles to circles; some business commentators think 3x5 cards at least break the mold.
Ginsberg has seen cards with die-cut holes that pop up when open, that contain contact details in braille and international languages, that carry motivational quotes or that look like baseball trading cards. One Boston banker he knows uses business cards that look like miniature checks.
Ginsberg offers a couple of other simple strategies to remember. Don't forget your cards before leaving home. You never know when you will run into someone who can help in your job search.
If you meet a particularly well-connected individual who seems genuinely interested in helping you land a job, hand her several cards for redistribution to her contacts.
Here are a couple of other good ideas for effective business cards, among them adding a graphic, strong colors or a photo of yourself. Although black and white cards are inexpensive they will not stand out. A color logo will help add a dash of personality.
A photo, meanwhile, connects you to recipients, reminding them of who you are when they look at their business card collection two weeks or two months after you met. One Minneapolis journalist uses a fun, colorful caricature rendered by a friend who is a cartoonist.
Adding color—especially red and black—will help you stand out. A hedge fund manager in Minneapolis once used a black card with white letters simply displaying his website, which drove a remarkable amount of traffic to it from people curious for more information and from potential clients.
Do not overlook the importance of business cards. Certainly, many recipients may toss them into a wastebasket. If even 10 percent put you into a database or a Rolodex, you will have made a little headway in your job search.