I have gone through the application, interview, and hiring process with many companies for internships and full-time jobs, and never once was a business card requested. I’ve asked recruiters and managers for their business card, because I needed their email for a thank-you letter, but it’s never been vice versa.
Instead of a business card, better options for college students that provide ways to contact you include an email address, personal website, or LinkedIn page.
Business cards can be important to employees in service industries, but the audience and potential value added need to be considered first.
So, when you’re in college looking for an internship or job, don’t waste your time (and money) getting a business card.
Why I Don’t Want One
1. My resume and social media accounts speak for themselves.
Every company wants to see your resume, in some shape or form, so I decided to make a beautiful one-page document. I know that my resume is probably the most important element in getting an interview, so I spent countless hours into making a masterpiece.
I even went to the extent of using visual design principles. For example, to aid the reader’s eyes, my resume had contrasting fonts between my header and body text. The reviewer might not recognize why they enjoy the function and form of my resume, but I bet they appreciate it.
Also, I optimized my social media accounts, including Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram, in case an employer searches for me on one of those platforms.
2. Takes time, and money, that could be used more productively.
At Take Your Success, the theme is to maximize productivity and get real results. Making business cards may seem like you’re being productive, but it doesn’t add much real value (if any) at this level. The year isn’t 1995.
Actually, activities that seem like they’re helpful, but are not, are the most dangerous because you’re blind to the time they steal. You feel good in the moment as you do “work” that isn’t productive, but it only leads to more pressure and stress later.
Also, strapped for cash college students, like myself, shouldn’t waste $100 dollars on business cards. That money is better used on a business suit, pair of shoes, or savings account.
3. Can interrupt the conversation.
If you go into conversations with the idea that you need to give business cards (because you spent hours on them, a good amount of money, and even ordered cards with rounded edges), then it’s going to be harder to be fully present with the other person.
Business cards add another factor in your communication that can cause you to be sidetracked with ideas like: when should you ask to give the business card, does he or she even want it, and how can you make the exchange natural.
Also, asking to give your card can disrupt an engaged conversation from the other person’s perspective. After you ask, the other person is no longer focusing on you, instead he or she is thinking of where to put the card, considering the appropriateness of this gesture at this stage, and potentially caught off guard that a college student is giving them a business card.
I didn’t want to worry about that in my pre-interview conversations, so I didn’t bother.I believe not having a business card helped me in this regard because it gave me the freedom to focus on listening and responding to a recruiter.
I gave my resume if they asked for it, but my focus was to create the best impression possible.
4. If you’re what they want, they’ll contact you.
Assuming you’re in front of them and prepared, even if you’re unable to pass on your resume, this should be enough of an opportunity to convince them that you’re worthy of an interview.
It could take hours to design the business card, order it, and pick it up. Instead, spend those extra hours to make better use of your time by researching the company, practicing your conversation at a career fair or informational night, or preparing for an interview.
The argument that a little rectangle card is going to get you an interview or job doesn’t resonate with me, at all.
Why Business Cards Can Detract Positive Action
I’ve already mentioned some of this in short, but business cards can make you and I feel like we are actually getting something done. Usually we are just spending time doing what is comfortable by passively putting the ball in the employer’s court to contact us (if they like our business card).
This unfortunately disguises fake achievement as real achievement. We believe we are making steps to get an internship or job offer, but in reality we are just as far away and left with less time.
When you’re actually doing something productive, it is hard and requires you to step out of your comfort zone. Determining a small list of jobs you want, creating a list of target companies, and building a network of people who work in the field you desire that could give you advice, are all better initial steps than working on something so trivial as a business card.
I want you guys to be top performers with amazing jobs. Top performers optimize their time to get the most production and enjoyment out of their days. Avoiding a business card is one specific way to better manage your time in college for real results.
Even if you start your own business in college, it’s then a good idea to have a business card but not until your company is successfully up and running.