ActionPopulated, Networker and Ass-Kisser Extraordinaire
June 17, 2012 10:26 PM   Subscribe

You are a young unemployed recession poster child with a varied past work history and not-entirely-clear current career trajectory. You need business cards for networking events. What goes on the cards in the place where the job title would otherwise be?

I graduated in 2009 with a BA in anthropology from a fancy small liberal arts school. Since then I have done:

--an AmeriCorps stint which involved some case management and a lot of policy research.
--volunteer work at a general social services non-profit, first doing intake interviews with new clients, later helping to start a community garden.
--retail work with a strong community outreach/child wrangling component. (Family-oriented game store.)
--intensive training in grant-writing, later volunteer grant-writing experience for a small Catholic school.
--most recently, babysitting and very short-term, phone-heavy temp gigs.

Career-wise, I am desperately hoping to get into a (free!) "community health worker" training offered at my local city university; basically more formalized training in the kind of intake/entry-level case management work I've already done, with job placement opportunities in the end. But I need short-term things to do right now and other options if I don't get into the training, hence networking events.

Given this skill set/career interest, what's a good tag line for a business card? My mom's first suggestions was "communicator and carer," but that sounds vague and kind of pretentious to me.

I've seen this thread, which mentions personal calling cards with only your contact info, but I'm not sure if that's the best way to go for me now or not. Possibly I have read one too many pieces of job search literature about the importance of "branding" or "selling" yourself.
posted by ActionPopulated to Work & Money (17 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
You can have a bunch of different business cards to give out to different kinds of employers. Who says you have to order 100 business cards that say the same thing? You can order 25 that say "case manager," 25 that say "grant writer," 25 that say "community health work student" and whatever. Maybe make them different colors so you don't get mixed up.
posted by cairdeas at 10:34 PM on June 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

A Person Who Can Be Reached at
posted by lois1950 at 10:35 PM on June 17, 2012

Why do you need a job title? I suggest leaving it blank.


City Name
posted by samthemander at 10:47 PM on June 17, 2012

Yeah, don't put a job title, just your contact details. If you have a suitable look and/or photo, putting a photo on the card might help with the 'branding' thing.
posted by dg at 11:10 PM on June 17, 2012

At this point, any tag line you choose will be either too broad or unsubstantiated. Leave it off.

Consider a simple card with contact information on the front and a blank back. When you meet someone interesting, jot down some notes on the reverse before handing it to them. These could include relevant experience, the role you'd like, or even just the name of the event where you met. As a bonus, you can offer to write the other's contact details on your own cards if they don't have one on hand.

Always carry a pen.
posted by nominal at 11:10 PM on June 17, 2012 [5 favorites]

There are "networking" business cards available on Vista Print's website.

Your work experience is varied, sparse, and non-linear in its progression. I'd recommend having your business cards state your name, contact information, and "BA in Anthropology" from the undergraduate institution that you attended.

If you want to showcase skills that you have developed then you might want to use this as a tag line underneath your name by stating what your talents and skills are.

Also, create a linkedin profile if you haven't already and have this link listed on your business card.
posted by livinglearning at 11:24 PM on June 17, 2012

dg: That might be appropriate for certain consulting or contract situations, like for a real estate agent or freelance designer, but never for long term employment. Given the legal climate, I'd bet that most employers in the US prefer not to see photos so as to avoid questions of bias.
posted by nominal at 11:24 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Non-profit professional?

That's kind of broad, though. But I'm thinking something in that direction, maybe.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 12:46 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

"What goes on the cards in the place where the job title would otherwise be?"

Your web site address. You do have one, no? If not, get thee one. On said web site, you have sections for each of the things you are seriously interested in.

Just putting name and contact info risks your not being remembered. I have business cards from the Pleistocene era and I'm sure I would have no idea who the people were any more in some cases without the trigger of a job title.

I also know someone in a similar situation to yours, and he is making multiple business cards for each subject area of interest. Instead of spelling them out, he is using (hand-drawn) images such as a piano tuning fork and freshly-baked bread. More striking, in my opinion, than a text-only card.
posted by parrot_person at 1:34 AM on June 18, 2012

How about your personal motto or a favourite quote?
posted by Perodicticus potto at 2:20 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Check out and create a splash page for yourself. It's free and you can then put your web address on your card under your name. There's your branding!
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 4:05 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have a bunch of business cards that are really just calling cards. They have my name, phone number, e-mail address, Skype handle and website address on them. Usually, people who use business cards use them to gather contact information to put into whatever contact management system they have (Outlook, database, Rolodex, whatever), and people's job titles change so often that not having one isn't going to be make-or-break.
posted by xingcat at 4:55 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

My Vista Print cards just have my name, cell phone number, my email address, and my LinkedIn profile. I graduated with a similar degree to yours and am working in a related field, but wanted them to be as flexible as possible in terms of geography and interests. At The last couple of informal events that I went to, people added info on the backs of my cards specific to the conversation which I did for theirs as well. If you do meet someone and you would like to set up an informational talk over coffee, you would be emailing them anyway with similar tailored information. Also, if you do order through Vista, you should be able to cheaply order different cards (I like the color-coded idea) but be warned that fast shipping through them is way more pricey than the discount prices of the cards themselves.
posted by jetlagaddict at 5:11 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

My business card is in no way related to my day job. They simply mention a few generic titles, all true (author, photographer, blogger).

If your card includes any sort of complicated URL's, however, create a QR code (only one per card) for it. If your website is up and running, make it point to that.
posted by chrisinseoul at 6:31 AM on June 18, 2012

There are minimum orders for business cards, but I agree with going with VistaPrint as they have a number of good options.

I was able to cull down to a couple of broad titles that could cover a number of job labels, but like you, I'm at a loss as to what you'd put down.

My VP cards from my Time of Not Working have:
Tilde Enda Time
(I have a line about a title but of course the point here is you don't). One version is "decorated" with images related to the industry I represent, the other is just a plain pretty one with a note about recycling it on the back. (not real but what is on my card is) gives them a link to my portfolio (I'm in a portfolio industry) and takes them to linked in. It's not my "usual" email address but it forwards to my usual email address - lets me filter out junk from people who know me.

The phone number is virtual and belongs to me - again so I can use "junk" blockers on it if needed.

the linkedin link gives them my whole cv/resume sample (once I became employed it crunched down to dates and companies without a lot of details).

I say come up with a list of titles, tweak them, then write them on the cards in nice handwriting - bright blue or green or purple gel ink - as you meet people (or prep a few in advance)

"Grantwriter to the stars of tomorrow" (kids in the community)
"Non profit Ninja" or other appropriate thing.

Like nominal said - have a pen, be ready to be relevant.
posted by tilde at 7:06 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

What you're handing out are calling cards, not business cards. So they don't need a title. That's fine. When I was a student I had calling cards that just gave my name, cell number, and email. Carry a pen if you want to jot down another peice of information, like what you discussed at a networking event with someone, so they'll have an easier time remembering you. Keep it classy. They'll also come in handy down the road if you meet someone you want to hang out with, but don't want them calling you on your work cell or thinking of you as "that babysitter I met." E.g. you new hiking friend. You can hand them a calling card instead of a business card and be extra classy.
posted by craven_morhead at 9:12 AM on June 18, 2012

My two cents on the gimmick/joke/whimsical angle -- fantastic when it works, but high degree of difficulty. And very bad when it fails.

My favorite business card I've ever had was printed in one of those "old busted typewriter" type fonts, but printed on the nicest quality paper the company made. It had my name, email address, and phone number. On the back it said "card." If you're younger, you might want to leave out the printing on the back for reasons stated above.

On a related note -- make sure you're in a good head space about your situation. Most of us have been through times of unemployment, and especially in the current economy, there's no shame in it. Project confidence and ease. And work on actually feeling that confidence and ease, too. You'll be fine.
posted by michaeldunaway at 4:51 AM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

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