biz-card.jpgBy Julia Nollen

At just 3.5 x 2 inches in size, a proper business card functions as a pint-sized professional billboard for showcasing your skills.

But in this digital age do college kids need them, or are they just relics from our parents’ generation?

For the class of 2011, entering the job market seems almost as terrifying as moving back in with our parents post-graduation. As a senior myself, I, too, have experienced the sudden onset of heart palpitations when a relative asks, “So, have you thought about what you’re going to do after college?” How couldn’t I? More people feel the pressure to land a job right now than to follow Justin Bieber on Twitter.

The jobless rate is still over 9 percent; and according to the Associated Press, the total number of job openings currently sits at a historically low 3.2 million. As students, we want and need to be as prepared as possible when attending networking events and interviews.

You can have a great résumé and some work experience under your belt, but I got to thinking whether business cards are still important, especially in the Internet age.

Career Doctor Randall Hansen thinks so.

Business cards are more than they were just a few years ago, he maintained. You can include a mission statement on the job you’re looking for and URLs to your online résumé, blog, etc., he explained. Instantly, a recruiter has any contact information, website, and e-Portfolios literally at her or his fingertips. And unlike a résumé, this information can be neatly tucked away in a pocket or briefcase.

Big businesses are picking up on the growing trend of these networking tools, too. With business cards now ranked as printing giant Staples’ top-selling promotional item, a rep for the company said: “Branding used to be for businesses only, but now everyone understands the value of creating a brand for yourself. Whether it’s for career advancement or just social networking, Staples customers are increasingly using business cards to make personal statements about themselves.”

But how far should you go in making that statement?

Don’t go for bigger business cards than the standard size because it might not fit in a hiring manager’s rolodex or wallet, Hansen advised. And the design, he added, should reflect the fields you want to go into.

A man well accustomed to the trade, PostNet COO Brian Spindel has seen his share of student business cards. Great business cards, he says:

• complement your résumé’s color and style
• don’t over-style text or artwork
• use both sides of the card to convey key qualifications
• serve as a true conduit to the web by including codes that recruiters can scan with smart phones to download your contact information, and URLs where appropriate

So, bottom line fellow students, you can be memorable, but be tasteful.

(Send us a photo of your business card to CareerDiva@verizon.net and we’ll include it here. Here’s Career Diva’s: img_1388.jpg
I’ll be sharing mine soon, once I get my website up and running.)

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