Generic business cards
August 29, 2007 10:41 PM   Subscribe

What the hell does an almost unemployed person put on their business cards?

I'm normally anti-business card, but I have to go to some meet and greet in 2 weeks and it is "strongly suggested" that I have some business cards to give out. (Note: I have seen this thread about business cards at academic functions.)

I currently am not employed in a place where I would bother making fancy 'business-related' cards, so what can I put on them that will make them seem more legitimate? I've already got my name, phone number, and email address on there.

My dad suggested my degrees, in such a format:

Bachelor of Arts (English and Psychology)
Masters of Science in Administration (Federal Program Management)

(The MSA degree won't be finished until December, should I somehow indicate that?)

Help me not seem like a business card neophyte Mefi!
posted by sperose to Work & Money (39 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
If you're looking for a job, you could list your education and bullet points of your skills/expertise. You may want to do that on the back of the card.
posted by acoutu at 10:42 PM on August 29, 2007

Under your name put "Smartest Guy In The Room" in italics.
posted by Poolio at 10:50 PM on August 29, 2007

err... Smartest Girl In The Room.
posted by Poolio at 10:51 PM on August 29, 2007



posted by luriete at 11:01 PM on August 29, 2007

"American Idle"
posted by rob511 at 11:18 PM on August 29, 2007 [4 favorites]

Rob, that's a terrible pun.

I'd put my profession (e.g. "Software Engineer").

Or just my name.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:20 PM on August 29, 2007

Well, would you like to be employed at some point?

If not, then your name and contact info is fine. (I wouldn't bother with your degrees.)

Otherwise, I suggest "Bureaucrat in Training."
posted by ottereroticist at 11:21 PM on August 29, 2007

Have you seen this thread about personal calling cards? That thread is more concerned on how to get them. But, maybe you could use a calling card instead of a business card?
posted by philomathoholic at 11:22 PM on August 29, 2007 [2 favorites]

Put your name and contact information on the card and let your personality and/or experience do the rest. Your business card isn't a selling point, it's a memento.
posted by ryoshu at 11:31 PM on August 29, 2007

"Consultant" is the standard answer, to the point of comedy.

But, seriously, in your position, name and contact details will do. What you want is something to allow other people to associate the details on the card with the face: 'oh, yes, that person.' Job titles help perform that function, but a distinctive enough card will do the trick: perhaps something like Moo's ready-made designs, which are deliberately unbusinessy.
posted by holgate at 11:32 PM on August 29, 2007

Rob, that's a terrible pun.

It's what I do, Steven.
posted by rob511 at 11:41 PM on August 29, 2007

Put something conversational to make an impression. Like . . .

I am also something of a bullshitter

(note: I read this in a book somewhere.)
posted by quadog at 11:41 PM on August 29, 2007

You could always put your resume online (at, say, Google pages or some other free website builder) and then put the url on your card under the heading of "Experience" and along with contact info.
posted by Brittanie at 11:51 PM on August 29, 2007

consultant is the standard. but since you're still in school you might just want to give your name and contact details. don't even bother with a title.

don't put what you're studying - that just makes you seem young and inexperienced.
posted by BigBrownBear at 12:24 AM on August 30, 2007

posted by null terminated at 1:23 AM on August 30, 2007

I've seen plenty of cards with no title, or a 'creative' title.

I guess it depends on your target audience, if the people you're trying to make an impression on aren't too uptight, then a little personality would be a good thing I think.

I've had 'Make-It-Work Guy' once
posted by sycophant at 2:05 AM on August 30, 2007

A college lecturer I know gives out a very small and elegant card which just says "Dr Joe Bloggs", and gives a telephone number and an address. He could put a bunch of stuff on it but he doesn't. I think that's kinda cool.
posted by tiny crocodile at 2:18 AM on August 30, 2007 [2 favorites]

You don't have to put anything. They're called calling cards. Look at the right hard card here. They can look great!

Or perhaps you could get some cards based on Hugh McLeod's cartoons, for example. Pick one whose attitude matches yours and it's a way of giving a vibe without being too committed.
posted by wackybrit at 2:19 AM on August 30, 2007

contraption and I brainstormed this list for a duo we know. Singularize it yourself.

Buggery, thuggery, skulduggery
Villainy (all sorts)
Smooth Criminals
Bumbling Detectives
Tricks and troubadours
Libertines for Hire / at large
Scallawags for Hire
Shifty Fellows
Sketchy Dudes
Outright Bastards
Darling Angels Straight from Heaven
First in Foppery
Avant-garde Life Artists
S & G Esq. Moustachiers
Helpful Young Men
Megalomaniacs fixed on World Domination
Confidence Men
Probably Terrorists
Fine Amphetamines & Exotic Alkaloids
"we're not just wasting your time - we're wasting ours too"
Jacks of all trades
-Short & Long-Haul Muling
-Children's Parties
Baby Smashers
Putting the Laughter back in Slaughter
No Crime too Petty
Atterny's at Law - Cheap!
We'll Watch your Stuff
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:27 AM on August 30, 2007 [25 favorites]

Don't put your degrees. You'll look foolish. (No offense to your dad.)

Just name and contact info, and URL for resume if you can do that.
posted by miss tea at 4:03 AM on August 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

seconding miss tea. keep it simple. you might use your school email address if you want to remind the recipient that you're still a student, but otherwise, no need to list your degrees.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:34 AM on August 30, 2007

The whole purpose of the card is for the person to call on you if they need you. To do that they need to remember your name, when all they probably remember is the context of the conversation they had with you. Degrees and contact information aren't going to help much. Sometimes a job title does, but far better is just a little tag line of who you are and what you do.

Helpful information also plays nicely. Some of 3Ms sales folks get asked technical questions so much by current customers they've had the tech support contact info printed on their cards. I've seen others with a key of sorts, for instance common ASCII character values on the back of a programmer's card. The recipient may never use it, but it really sticks out in the mind.
posted by jwells at 5:05 AM on August 30, 2007

The best card I ever got had the guy's name across the front and just below it, this line:

"Perhaps you've heard of me"

I kept it for years and laughed every time I saw it. This might not be the best idea for you right now but hey, like I said, I kept that card for a long time. Nthing all who recommend your name and contact info. Maybe you can give it a little individuality with a colored border or interesting, neutral background. Leave some space to write on the back so you can personalize it or add specific info for the person you're giving it to. Good luck at your meeting!
posted by Kangaroo at 5:05 AM on August 30, 2007 [10 favorites]

Assuming this conference is related to your degree program, I actually *would* put that on your card. Not as a couple of degrees, as your Dad suggested, but rather as Masters Candidate -- Name of School / Program. It tells people that you're a student (whatever job you have to pay for your student life is irrelevent) and what field you're a student in, which is the functional equivalent of your job role and employer while you're a student.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:07 AM on August 30, 2007

Name, address, phone, email, URL

You could add "I'm kind of a big deal" but I suspect bureaucrats won't really dig the funny and I put it in just for fun.

Leave space for comments, and have a good pen that will write on card stock. Get lots of cards from others, make notes, and follow up. You can't go to this shebang and ask for cards without having cards.
posted by theora55 at 5:47 AM on August 30, 2007

"Have Gun, Will Travel"
posted by briank at 5:49 AM on August 30, 2007

Mine say, "Keeping the fun in funeral." Or "We'll cover up your little mistakes" Or "We'll be the last folks to let you down."*

* (No, not really, but when I'm more comfortable with my career choice, maybe.)
posted by ColdChef at 6:34 AM on August 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

Mine says "Potential Lunch Winner"

yes, I know. I stole that from Mitch Hedburg.
posted by Stynxno at 7:17 AM on August 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

My favourite one recently was:

"Nice Canadian guy"

And it was true.
posted by unSane at 7:38 AM on August 30, 2007

This might be a little pretentious, but I've always liked cards with just a name and an email address... or maybe a name, email address and phone number. No one is going to write you a letter anyways.
posted by cusack at 7:47 AM on August 30, 2007

I never get business cards at work, but I've made myself some calling cards, so that I can give away cards to various people, without having to be tied down to my job.

They include my name, URL, email, AIM, and, since I'm mostly giving these out to people in the web dev world, what I'm good at -- (x)html, css, accessibility, and monkeys.

I'm especially good at monkeys.
posted by Katemonkey at 8:52 AM on August 30, 2007

Freelance Human.
posted by kamikazegopher at 8:56 AM on August 30, 2007

Danny Ocean in the remake of Ocean's 11 put's a card in Linus' pocket on a train I think. It simple says "Daniel Ocean" but has info written on theback (meet me blah).

You could have a stock of them, and if you meet someone, give them the card and say "email me - here's I'll put my email address on the back"
posted by thilmony at 9:05 AM on August 30, 2007

As philomathoholic and others have said, what you're looking for is a calling card. The Crane's link wackybrit gave is nice (on preview: hey, because I gave it earlier!), and you could keep them forever. Or at least until your phone number or email address changed.

Also, if you can afford it, have them done professionally. Looks a LOT nicer than the pre-fad Avery types.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 9:33 AM on August 30, 2007

This reminds me of The Big Lebowski when the cop asks him what was in the briefcase: "Papers. Just papers. You know, my papers. Business papers." "And what do you do, sir?" "I'm unemployed."

Anyway, I'd keep away from trying to be too clever with your title if you're actually taking this whole meet and greet seriously. One possibility would be to just put your contact info on the card and let your conversations tell the rest.
posted by atomly at 9:34 AM on August 30, 2007

Actually the self-print avery cards that don't have perfs are not bad. For a plain black-and-white calling card they're just fine, if lacking some of the pizzaz of raise lettering.

I'd make sure all my contact information was on it were I you. While the handwritten touch Obscure mentions is nice, you want them in this scenario (presumably) so you spend more time conversing and making an impression and less scribbling things down.
posted by phearlez at 10:09 AM on August 30, 2007

I'd do a super-abbreviated resume and then a link to the full resume page online.
posted by letahl at 10:33 AM on August 30, 2007

People used to give out personal cards or calling cards, you know. They don't mention your day job at all. It has some contact information only.

I have business cards for when I'm dealing with someone in a professional capacity. I also have personal cards, from Moo, with a photo of mine on one side, and my name + email address + phone number ( + URL + GnuPG fingerprint) on the other side. Moo cards are about half the height as normal business cards, but they're rigid and sturdy and don't feel cheap.
posted by cmiller at 12:13 PM on August 30, 2007

Many thanks to all who answered! I ended up ordering some very nice cards off OvernightPrints because I realized today that this meet and greet shindig is in about 2 weeks.

But I've got my eye on those cartoon cards for when I can get my CC to work overseas.
posted by sperose at 11:58 PM on August 30, 2007

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