If your unemployed or still in school, you might think making your own business card is cheesy or unprofessional. Whenever I meet those looking for a job I tell them the exact opposite. Make a business card for your job search.
Believe it or not most jobs are still filled by word of mouth and real, live, personal connections. Part of my job search strategy is to utilize the power of networking. Meet as many people in the universe that surrounds your ideal job as you can. Remember their names. Follow up with them. Ask them questions about what it’s like to be them. Really connect.
I’ve been at networking events where I find someone I know I could help. We talk about their job search and they tell me their story. They engage me and I’m ready to help them once I get back to my office. As I leave, I ask them for their card. They don’t have one, but they kindly write down their name and phone number on a napkin. A napkin… really?! I’m sorry, I want to help them, but I’m not going to stuff a half-dirty napkin in my pocket, much less keep it long after I get in my car and leave the restaurant.
What are the benefits of having a business card on-hand?
- If you offer your card, they will be inclined to offer theirs back to you. Getting their contact information will help ensure you can follow up with them and won’t have to rely on them contacting you. Remember you’re the one who wants help, not them.
- A business card will serve as a good reminder for them to follow through.When I get a card from someone, I rarely throw it away immediately. It will sit in my wallet, car, office, or bedroom nightstand for a while, sometimes weeks. The longer it sits there, the more times I glance at it, the more I remember the name and the story and feel obligated to follow through.
- A card can communicate your message concisely. You don’t have to feel like you have to cram in all the details of your life or dominate the conversation trying to sell yourself to someone. If you’ve efficiently summarized your skill set, education, and what you’re looking for, your card can speak for you.
- Having a card made will show you take initiative, know what you want, and can summarize what’s important. If I meet ten students and two have taken the time and effort to design a card and get it printed, which ones stand out with more initiative? Plus this gives me an opportunity to evaluate their communication skills.
What should your card look like?
- Make it look professional. Remember that this is a reflection of you, so you take the time to make it look professional. Get it printed on thick matte finished paper, and get it printed in color. You can get 1,000 cards in color with front and back printing for $50-75.
- Make it easy to read. No dramatic pictures. Don’t fill it up with too much text. Remember, your goal is to get your message across. So many personal business cards having heavy color background images that render most of their message difficult to read. Use your space wisely. Consider the aesthetic value of good balance and composition. Don’t print text that isn’t needed. If it’s not adding to your message, then it’s diluting it.
- Print on the front and back. Utilizing the back will help you keep the front clean while allowing you to clearly state what you want to communicate.
What should you put on your business card?
Here is an example card that I made that is along the lines of what I would use if I were unemployed. You can see the front and back. Some of the details and contact info might be different, but the experience bullet points are real.
- Make your name clear and obvious, listing your designations. Make sure you include in your name any professional designations or certifications you have. I actually hold a CGMA also, but I did not list it. I think at some point having too many designations that the reader doesn’t understand can dilute their memory of you. So for now, I keep mine to just CMA and CPA. I don’t list a Masters or MBA on my name, although I have one. I think after you reach a certain level people should assume you have at least a Master’s degree and there no need to list it in your name.
- Come up with a tag line. You can see here the tag line in blue-ish gray italics helps them get a feel for how I am trying to brand myself. You’ll see the same tag line on my LinkedIn profile, “Bridging the gap between finance, technology, and business.” I’ll post more on what that tag line means later, but for now think of a way to summarize what makes you different in a few words. What do you offer that other accountants don’t have?
- Include a few bullet points describing your background, education, or skill set. This isn’t a resume, just a couple bullet points on what makes your background relevant and desirable. List previous positions you’ve held, systems you know or have implemented, skill sets you’ve acquired, education you’ve received, etc. Don’t list certifications you’ve already appended to your name. Remember, the more you write the less of a chance it has of being read. Be careful how much detail you include. I feel like even my example is probably on the edge of too much information.
- Contact information. Obviously you should include your contact information on your card. You can see in my example I have my cell phone number, email, and LinkedIn URL (notice how my LinkedIn URL is short and clean? You can change your public URL from the default to something better if it’s not taken). I have also listed my home address and twitter account. I left Facebook off because that’s mostly personal social media – although my Facebook page is appropriate for any employer to view.
- On the back I describe what I want. If I’m unemployed I want a job. I could say “Looking of r a role managing FP&A” which I thought about, but instead I thought I’d be a little more creative. In my example I’ve stated that I am available (looking for a job) managing a finance or accounting department. I also listed where and in what industries. I then took it one step further and put an availability date a couple months into the future. Many of you might be wondering why you would possibly exclude yourself from immediate opportunities by putting an availability date in the future. I have mixed thoughts about doing this, but I’d like to add something to help battle any perception of my desperation. Admit it or not hiring managers often choose those with jobs over those without. Desperation can play a part when candidates interview for the job on the basis that “they just need a job” while hiring managers are looking for candidates who don’t need a job but “really want to do that job instead”. Implying your available in the future or even the current month shows you are not desperate. In fact, you might even have opportunities you need to consider in advance.