As a management recruiter, job seekers frequently ask me if they should carry a business card for job searching purposes.  My answer is yes, especially if they are unemployed during their job search.  But what should your card say...?

Think of your business card as a tiny direct marketing piece.  Direct Mail ("DM") expert Gary Halbert says that DM advertising is like a small child:  It's totally useless if you give it more than one thing to do at a time.  For instance, a DM piece shouldn't solicit referrals and ask the prospect to call a toll free number for more information.  Each DM campaign should have one specific, measurable objective.  Simple, right?

You can apply Halbert's mentality to your business card, as I discovered when I was a guerrilla marketing consultant from 2001-2004.  As luck would have it, the day I saw Halbert's quote was the day I needed to re-order business cards from, which allows people to design and order their business cards online.  Inspired by Halbert, I decided to treat my business card as a standalone DM advertising medium.  I asked myself "What's the ONE thing that I want anyone who takes my card to do?"

Answer:  Subscribe to my newsletter, because 1.) that keeps my ideas in front of them and 2.) my subscribers tend to pass my newsletter along to their friends. Click here to see the resulting card.

Later I realized that with VistaPrint, cards are so cheap ($20 for 250 cards) that I could print new ones every time I had a new "Special Report" to download -- or a new version of my resume, or new links to testimonial letters, or whatever.  That way I could distribute cards that showed the report's unique download link, which was trackable and made my recipient think that he was getting something special.  (Click here for an example.)  Similarly, I could print cards that offered presentation downloads from a specific trade show, speech, or seminar.

My point is that all good marketing is about TESTING -- and this idea can give you a proxy for the effectiveness of certain networking events, speeches, trade shows, and other events where business cards are distributed.  As a job seeker, you must remember that YOU are the product that you are marketing.

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Harry Joiner is an executive recruiter specializing in integrated marketing and "new media." He has been featured in MarketingSherpa's Great Minds in Marketing series and received coverage in the Wall Street Journal's Career Journal Online. According to Viral Garden's weekly rankings, Harry's weblog is one of the top 25 marketing weblogs in the world.