Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Another Item in a Successful Job Seeker’s Marketing Materials

All job seekers know they need a good résumé. Recently many of you added the Marketing Plan to your job seeker’s marketing tool kit (August article: What Document is as Valuable to a Job Seeker as a Great Resume?). Another item a successful job seeker would not be caught without is a business card.

The business card is critical because it is the most recognized method for exchanging contact information while networking and, as you know, networking is the most successful approach to finding a job.

You should not use a card from a current or former employer and do not use a card where you have to scratch out old information and hand-write the corrected information.

Source for Cards

There are different ways to have cards made.

• Office supply stores sell special paper stock to use with your home printer to create your own cards.

Be sure to purchase the “clean edge” paper. Do not purchase the perforated type that has to be torn to separate. No matter how hard you try to prevent it, the perforated type leaves a rough edge which diminishes the professional appearance.

Be sure the resulting card looks professional (ex. no smeared ink and not printed at a slight angle). I recently received a business card that was printed at a slight angle looking sloppy. When I asked if she had considered getting them printed, she said her husband printed them for her as his contribution to her job search; she didn’t have the heart to take that task away from him. A job search is too important to skimp on quality.

• Office supply stores and other business centers offer business card printing services.

• offers 250 free colored business cards per order (other than the price of shipping) as long as you are willing to leave the discreet Vista logo on the back. Many job seekers use VistaPrint as a source for their business cards.

Information to Include

Of course, the most important and obvious item to include on your business card is your contact information. This should include your name, your full address, the best phone number to reach you, and your e-mail address. You do not need to preface the phone number with the word “phone” and the e-mail address with the word “e-mail”. The format indicates the type of information it is.

Some people include their Linked In e-mail address. Usually this takes the format of, slash (/), the word “in”, slash, and then your name. If you have a very common name, this is helpful so people can identify which of the profiles is yours. If you have an unusual name, including your Linked In address is not necessary; the search feature will bring up your profile.

Under your name you should include the title of the position you are seeking.

You may want to include a brand statement and a few statements that are your key differentiators.

Unless the career you seek is in the arts, select a color and pattern that is professional and on the conservative side.

Be sure to spell-check your card several times before printing them. Tips for proofing include reading the text from the bottom to the top (versus top to bottom) and pasting the text into Microsoft Word to have Word grammar and spell check for you.

Leave blank space on the back of the card so people can make notes on it (see the comment below under Tips When Using Business Cards).

Tips When Using Business Cards

Keep a plentiful stock of business cards with you at all times. Keep these cards fresh and organized by using a business card case. Inexpensive card cases are available.

If you are right handed, put your business cards loose in your right hand pocket. Using a business card case during a network event will take valuable time and attention away from your conversation as you work to access the card. As you receive other people’s business cards, put them in your left pocket. This approach keeps other people’s cards from getting mixed up with yours. If you are left handed – reverse that.

When someone gives you their card, write a note on the back to remind you where you met them and reminders about follow-up.

If you maintain contact information electronically and receive a lot of business cards, you may want to consider purchasing a business cards scanner. Some card scanners have built in intelligence and can parse the information correctly, regardless of the layout of the card, to automatically load into contact software such as Outlook.

You are now a salesperson, selling your skills, abilities, and accomplishments. Having and using business cards is not only useful; it also makes you look even more professional.

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