How to Use Personal Business Cards

In Victorian times, proper ladies and gentlemen used calling cards to announce their arrival to a home as well as leave a reminder that they had paid a visit. In more modern times, people have used business cards to provide, in addition to their name and company position, relevant information on how to be contacted at their place of employment.

Business cards continue to be an important tool in nearly every form of business today. But what’s really interesting to note is that with today’s challenging economic environment, the contemporary job-seeker is getting more creative in making a good lasting impression, and one of the ways that is gaining in popularity is the use of a personal business card.

What Goes On A Personal Business Card?

A personal business card is similar to a company-issued business card in that it lists a person’s contact information. But in addition – and this is where the savvy job seeker can work a bit of magic – it can add a touch reminiscent of Victorian calling cards: a personalized message to the recipient that stays around long after the meeting has ended. Consider it the ultimate tweet. Real estate space on a 3-by-2 inch card is very precious – the message has to be short and sweet. It isn’t necessary to list your street address on the card as it’s (usually) already on your resume. Your name, phone number and email address are sufficient pieces of contact data.

And unlike the black and white, standardized font found on Twitter, a personalized business card allows you to use colors and fonts to create a verbal word picture about yourself and what you offer. Here are some messaging examples:

  1. For a writer: Experienced Copywriter  Colorful prose, sparkling invitations and writings with wit.
  2. For a designer: Design, demystified – expert guidance to help you get the rooms you want at a price you can afford.
  3. For a salesperson: Ten years of quota-topping achievements. Compassionate about the customer, passionate about the sale.

There are no hard and fast rules here. You don’t have to include a message if this idea isn’t appealing or doesn’t fit the type of job for which you’re searching. Here are some other ideas for what you can put on a personal business card:

  1. Include a small picture. Whereas pictures on a resume are still pretty much a no-no (unless you’re an actor), a small headshot picture is perfectly acceptable. Some of you might reject this idea because you don’t want to be judged on appearances. If you’ve ever interviewed a series of candidates for a position, you know that despite your best intentions, they can start to run together after a few meetings. A picture is a great way to help people remember you. If you’re using LinkedIn and already have a picture associated with your profile, then be consistent and use the same picture on your card. In both cases, the picture should be clear and professional in appearance.
  2. List your website or blog address if you have one, provided that you keep it fairly up to date. Some say that if it’s a hobby blog it could hurt you. It depends, but if you write fairly well, then it’s worth it to show your potential employers that you are a multi-faceted individual. If you’re a sales executive that enjoys hiking, volunteers at a local youth center and writes about your adventures, this is positive information about you as a person. It’s highly likely that they will review your Facebook profile any way. A blog is your way to talk to them after an interview, with as much detail as you desire.
  3. Lastly, there are a lot of personal business cards out there that contain no pictures or messages, but instead rely on eye-catching graphics, colors, raised or imprinted lettering or other visual tricks to stand out. These are also very effective.

The obvious way for you as a job applicant to use a personal card is to staple it to your resume. However, it’s quite common for interviewers to already have a copy of your resume in hand when they meet you. If that is the case, give the interviewer your card as you collect theirs. If they are out of cards, give them one of yours anyway.

But personal cards are not just for interviews. Be smart and carry some with you at all times. Despite the many technological advancements we have seen, the most powerful form of advertising continues to be word of mouth. Smart job seekers know the value of networking and in talking to the various people they meet about what they do. A personal card sums everything up nicely, and you don’t have to rummage around in your pockets for a pen and a scrap of paper, or whip out a phone and start typing away. It’s quick and discreet – you hand someone a card and they put in it their pocket. Done.

And even after you get that new job, it’s a good idea to keep a stash of your personal cards on hand. You never know who you might meet who could benefit from your talent and expertise!

Bill Post, Small Business Research Analyst, has been providing research on issues of concern to small businesses for Business Cards for three years. Prior to his involvement with 123Print, Bill was a small business owner himself, providing marketing and branding services to other small businesses in the Washington, DC metro area. Before working with 123Print on Business Card Templates, Bill spent several years after receiving his degree in the fast-paced corporate world. It was there that Bill not only honed the skills he uses to help small businesses get ahead, but it is also where he realized that he’d rather help the little guy prosper than make huge corporations money.