Some job-seekers may impress interviewers in person while others may impress them with stellar resumes. But what many job candidates overlook in grabbing a prospective employer’s attention is their business card.
In lieu of two recent job fairs held on HowardUniversity‘s campus, Carol Dudley, Career Development Coordinator for the university’s John H. Johnson School of Communications, explained that the right business card can be an effective networking tool.
”Business cards are a great way to introduce yourself to practitioners in the industry,” Dudley said. “They are small, convenient, and can easily fit into a wallet for safekeeping.”
It is often said that when networking, students have only one opportunity to make a good first impression, but an awkward-looking business card could lead to the wrong impression.
Sonya Lowery, the author of “The Secret Language of Business Cards,” wrote about the importance of design and production of business cards. As the president of Solaris, House of Fine Graphics, a design firm in Greenbelt, Md., Lowery has attended many networking events where she took note of several business card mistakes made by business owners.
In the book, Lowery pointed out that a common mistake is having no business card at all. To a possible employer, this may suggest that a job candidate is not serious. Plus, not providing contact information in the form of a business card could make it difficult for potential clients to follow up. Another mistake among business cards is using an e-mail address, like email@example.com, which projects as unprofessional, Lowery said. An e-mail address like firstname.lastname@example.org is more appropriate, she added.
Another common mistake, said Lowery, is buying template-produced cards ordered and printed for free by online companies. This is a common low- budget error, she said. She explained that settling for cheap or free printing may belittle a company’s image.
Another mistake is presenting tattered or ripped business cards, she said; or handing out ones with information that is crossed off. Lowery said that this suggests that a business owner is struggling and unprofessional.
Also, listing several professions on one business card is a no-no, says Lowery, adding that in the case of applying for a job, this may suggest that the job applicant is a jack-of-all trade, but a master of none.
This advice is specific to business owners and some of these mistakes do not apply to young, college students. So, Dudley created pointed out some common mistakes made by college students. These few tips could make a difference for students transitioning into the work force, she said
First, students should always put their names on the cards and €” though it sounds silly-check to make sure that the name is spelled correctly. She agreed with Lowery, in that an e-mail address should be professional and that a “focused” area of interest is included on the business card, particularly if a candidate wants to be taken seriously by possible employers.
Dudley said that even if students want unique cards; avoid choosing a business card style that is too flashy.
”White, beige, light blue, and light grey are safe colors,” Dudley said, adding that slogans, themes and photos should be avoided.