Business cards 101

Here’s how to design that all-mighty piece of paper so that it work wonders for your career.

Business cards 101

This is what to put on a business card.

When it comes to networking events, the business card has endured as a simple way to share your contact info with others. The most effective business cards, however, are the ones that are both practical and alluring. There’s an art and a science to knowing what to put on a business card. Beyond the obvious (or not so obvious) contact information, you need to think about what it is that you want to advertise when it comes to your skills and expertise.

Your business card’s details as well as its aesthetic appeal play pivotal roles in the way people in your industry perceive you as a professional and, of course, how they can reach you. Here are the basics.

What to put on a business card

On the front:

1. Name and job title

Putting your name and job title on the front of your business card might seem obvious, but there are some common mistakes people make. For starters, your name doesn’t have to match what’s on your birth certificate. If your name is Jonathan, but you prefer to go by Jon (or a different nickname), Jon is what should appear on your business card.

As for job title, there are a couple simple rules to follow. First, the job title on your business card doesn’t have to match your official position, especially if your formal job title is packed with jargon (Chief People Person isn't exactly as clear cut as Director of Human Resources). Drill down to your job’s main function—i.e., “John Smith, video editor” as opposed to “John Smith, moving images guru.”

Second, make sure your job title isn’t misleading. For example, it would be disingenuous to call yourself “CEO” of a company on your business card if you’re the only employee.

2. Phone number, email address, and office address

Putting a physical address on your business card adds credibility. If you work from home and don’t want to share your home address, consider getting a PO box or a business mailbox.

3. Social media handles

Having your LinkedIn account on your business card is vital in today’s digital era. Moreover, if you use other social media for business, such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, providing your account names (or URLs if they’re reasonably short) on your business card gives people more places to go to find out more information about you. 

Back of business card ideas

1. Your company’s logo

The back of a business card is prime real estate for branding, particularly if you work for a well-known company that has clout in your industry. Self-employed? Designing a logo for your small business and including it on the back of your business card adds a level of professionalism to your image.

2. A call to action

One approach is to place a call to action on the back of your business card. Crafting the right message, though, depends on your field. For instance, if you’re selling a product, you may offer a discount with a custom link to your website, such as a URL that ends in the word “deal.” Or, you could provide a tip that will be useful to the recipient. If you’re a mortgage lender, for example, you might write, “Call me to get pre-approved today!”

Design tips

Want your business card to stand apart from others in your industry? Following these design tips will help your card shine (in some cases, literally) in the best possible way:

  • Get colorful. A card with a splash of a bright color draws attention.
  • Select a legible typeface. Also, choose a font type size that’s easy to read. (Generally, 12 to 15 points is sufficient.)
  • Avoid clutter. Too much text squeezed together looks chaotic.
  • Create a focal point. To make your name and job title stand out, use a slightly larger font size for that information.
  • Print on high-quality paper. Business cards printed on cheap stock can make you appear cheap.
  • Steer clear of odd proportions. Having a large business card, or a business card with an unusual shape, can differentiate you, but be sure to stick to the standard 3.5 inches x 2 inches so that your card can fit into a wallet easily.
  • Use flourishes with restraint. Embossing, foil accents, raised print, rounded edges—for simplicity’s sake, don’t opt for too many embellishments.

Make more contacts

Now that you know what to put on a business card, it's time to find some people who might be interested in receiving one. Need some help with that? Join Monster for free todayAs a member, you can upload up to five versions of your resume—each tailored to the types of jobs that interest you. Recruiters search Monster every day looking to fill top jobs with qualified candidates, just like you. Additionally, you can get job alerts sent directly to your inbox to cut down on time spent looking through ads.