By Anita Brady
Although many print mediums (ie. newspapers, books, and magazines) are quickly being replaced by digital alternatives, no effective replacement for the traditional business card has yet to emerge. Smartphone apps that allow us to ‘bump’ our devices together to exchange contacts now exist, but they’ve yet to reach the ubiquitous level of use where a print card is no longer necessary.
Of course, it’s simple and fast to exchange contacts digitally, but the elimination of a ‘paper trail’ can actually put job-seekers at a disadvantage. When a potential employer pulls your card from their pocket, wallet, or purse at a later date, their memory of meeting you will be reinforced. Equally important, the design, style, and information you choose to convey on your little personalized piece of direct marketing helps shape an early opinion of your professionalism and skills.
With all the other forms of marketing out there, if you’re still skeptical that a business card is a worthy investment, consider these three points:
- Cards are timeless. Unlike other forms of marketing (television replaced by YouTube, billboards replaced by banner ads) cards don’t fall out of style.
- There’s no better bang-for-your-buck marketing. Printed business cards are relatively cheap to purchase, especially when compared to most other forms marketing.
- By handing someone your card, you guarantee the recipient’s ‘receipt’ of your message. Unlike email and online applications, personally handing someone your card ensures that you will make some kind of impression on them. Make sure it’s a good one, and be prepared with a professional card that they can remember you by.
Realizing the importance of carrying a business card is only the first step. In order for your card to be effective and help secure you a job, it’s important that the right material and attitude be conveyed. In order to design the perfect card for your style and employment aspirations, remember the following tips:
1. Be Concise
If you’re seeking work within the arts, consider utilizing an image or design on your card that demonstrates your creativity. On the other hand, those working in the finance field will want to convey elegant strength through formal lettering. List your profession and perhaps a line with your skills, along with contact information. You don’t have to fill every square millimeter of your card — blank space is okay!
2. Get Social
Many people today, including employers, may prefer to initiate contact through a service like LinkedIn or Facebook. Your social media accounts should be listed on your card. It’s no longer necessary to include ‘http://” or even “www”. To include your Facebook account, for example, simply write “facebook.com/JaneDoe”
3. Be Tech Savvy
It’s now possible to find ‘smart business cards’ that include an embedded chip with your contact information. The recipient can simply hold the card to their phone to transfer the electronic data into their contacts. This technology requires a compatible app, however, and has thus been slow to catch on. In the meantime, QR codes are a simple way to connect card recipients with your online presence, without the added task of typing in your url. Consider using a QR code (a simple search turns up plenty of code generators) to link to your portfolio or resume online.
4. Stay Up to Date
When your job status or a part of your contact information changes before your supply of cards runs out, it’s tempting to continue using the outdated cards until they’re gone, perhaps scratching out the incorrect data. In general, avoid doing this. Cards are not expensive, and utilizing a dated card can come across as unprofessional. If you anticipate changes to your information, order fewer cards at a time.
5. Consider the Back
Depending on your profession, the back of your card can be a place to include an image, a QR code, or a meaningful quote. There is no harm in leaving your card blank, however. Many people make a point of not including their mobile number on their card. This allows them to make certain recipients feel important when you pull out a pen and jot your ‘direct line’ on the back of the card, especially for them. It’s a potentially effective move that can work in your favor — just remember to carry a pen.
Can you recall a time when your business card came in particularly handy? What other tips do you suggest for job seekers looking to perfect their card?
Anita Brady is the President of 123Print.com, a leading provider of a high variety of quality items like business cards, fancy letterhead and other materials for small businesses and solo practitioners.