by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
Here’s what every job-seeker should know: the value of a strong and flawless resume and the power of networking in finding a new job. When you’re job-hunting, take your resume with you wherever you go — and use every opportunity to grow and strengthen your network of contacts. But what do you do in situations where passing out a handful of resumes is not feasible? Use networking business cards.
Networking business cards, which have the look and feel of a traditional business card, give you the opportunity to provide critical career and contact information with people you meet in social and professional situations.
Why Networking Business Cards?
Business cards are the currency of meetings, but if you’re a typical college student you don’t have any business cards, and if you’re a career changer you probably don’t want to use your regular business cards. For a minimal investment, you can print networking cards.
If you are serious about finding a job, you already know the importance of networking and marketing yourself. For a refresher on either of these subjects, please read Networking Your Way to a New Job and Using Key Marketing Tools to Position Yourself on the Job Market.
Keep your networking cards clean and crisp and bring them EVERYWHERE you go — to networking events (obviously), career and job fairs, professional meetings, social gatherings, parties, weddings, and anywhere else you may run into potential contacts… everywhere. You should keep copies of your resume handy as well, but, of course, sometimes a resume is simply be too awkward to handle.
Designing and Printing Networking Cards
Networking cards are the same size and shape of business cards (3-1/2″ wide and 2″ high), contain key contact information the way business cards do, but instead of listing a company and job title, a networking card focuses on your career focus or unique selling proposition. Be sure to include all your pertinent contact information, including your name, phone number, email address, postal mail address; and Website address, cell phone or fax numbers (if you have them).
You can get your networking cards printed at a local print shop, at numerous places on the Web (see list at end of article), and even print them yourself using special business card paper (Avery 3612) and a template that most word-processing applications supply. (Word instructions at end of article.) When designing your networking cards, remember to keep the design and layout clean and simple, use “normal” fonts, use font sizes of 10-11 points, and stay with traditional colors of ink and paper. If you are interested in a job in a creative field, you can be a bit more creative, but most job-seekers should keep the design and colors conservative (just as with your resume).
Once your cards are printed, be sure to purchase a business-card holder to protect your cards and keep them clean and crisp. What’s the point of going to all the trouble of designing and printing great networking cards if you let them become soiled or dog-eared? Remember that people are always making assumptions and that in job-hunting, impression management is critical.
We’ve developed a few sample networking cards (in .pdf) to help you as you contemplate your cards. These first two are examples of networking cards for established job-seekers, while these two are examples of networking cards for college students.
Resume Highlights Card
Consider taking your networking business card one step further by turning your networking card into what my partner Katharine Hansen refers to as a Resume Highlights Card in her book, A Foot in the Door: Networking Your Way into the Hidden Job Market. With a resume highlights card, you can print your key qualifications (or summary of accomplishments) on the back of your networking card — giving you a mini-resume to distribute when carrying your regular resume is not feasible. Remember to focus on your three or four key accomplishments (or qualifications) and not on past job titles or duties. (Read more.)
See an example of a Resume Highlights Card with a qualifications summary.
Final Thoughts on Using Networking Cards
Remember that your networking business cards should not replace your resume — you should still try to take your resume with you wherever you go — but in situations where a resume is not feasible, networking cards are a great self-marketing job-search and networking tool. Always carry a stash of your networking cards; you simply never know when you will meet someone who can help you in your job search.
Networking Card Printing Details
So, how do you go about getting networking cards printed? You can have networking cards printed for you at a local printer or on the Web — or, you can try designing and printing them yourself on your computer.
On the Web:
On your computer, in Word:
- Go to the “Tool” menu from the top row.
- Choose “Envelopes and Labels” from the “Tools” menu. In some version of Word, the menu item will be simply “Labels.”
- Under “Options,” find the name of the paper manufacturer (Avery) and then find the correct product number in the lower left corner.
- Type in the information you want on your card in the text box and hit “New Document.”
- You can then format the cards exactly as you want them to print.
- Print the final versions (on a high-quality inkjet or laser printer only)!
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
Achieve career networking success! Take advantage of all the career networking tools, articles, and resources found in our The Art of Career Networking section of Quintessential Careers.
Maximize your career and job-search knowledge and skills! Take advantage of The Quintessential Careers Content Index, which enables site visitors to locate articles, tutorials, quizzes, and worksheets in 35 career, college, job-search topic areas.