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The serious business of business cards

Following on from the previous discussion about what to do with business cards received when out getting one’s jollies in the form of networking, I think it’s time to turn our beady psycho owl eyes to the cards themselves.

Penelope WhitsonI have an embarrassing pile of business cards from previous jobs – I am thinking of wallpapering my loo in them. That way, unfortunate visitors desperate to expel waste can chart my career progress up, down and sideways while enjoying the comforts of my bathroom. They can also admire the tastelessness various employers have shown in regards to how said business cards were designed. The gold! The embossing! The jaw grinding fonts! Should my guests suffer from constipation, surely this can only be helpful.

As a word nerd with a love of the ridiculous, I am often fascinated by what people actually have written on their business cards, such as a) job titles and b) any other information their company has kindly thought necessary to include. I have been trying for years to get an employer to include ‘Spinster’ on my card. But to no avail. I worked just as hard to get that title as I did my reasonably expensive education – I have turned down many, many marriage proposals because a husband would just get in the way of my pursuit of editorial perfection.  People need to know how dedicated to this role I am.

My current card doesn’t even have my job title. While this means people won’t realise just how far down the food chain I am, I am saddened they will not at least attempt to imagine for a moment the dizzying heights I could perhaps have attained. For all they know I am incredibly important, so important, in fact, that I am above titles. Perhaps I should take my name off too, and just have a symbol. I can become the Editor Formerly Known as Penelope.

I appreciate that for some people, having degrees and whatnot listed on your business card is necessary – I know it warms my heart to know my doctor has some learnin’. And if you’re freelancing, your victims/clients often like to feel assured you have some sort of ‘education’ behind you. But who else needs to have their degree festooned across their business card? Do you really need to know what degrees I have? What do you get from this information? That I have a massive student loan? That I ‘appear’ educated? The fact I spent years in post-tertiary education doesn’t mean I know anything about grammar – for many people this merely indicates I can absorb an embarrassingly large amount of beer and spent far too much time wafting around campus instead of getting a job.

A friend once had a position created for her and was told to choose her own title. Much to our disappointment she didn’t go with ‘Most likely to photocopy her bottom at the Christmas do’ but for something terribly mature and adult ... and sort of empty, actually. Lots of job titles are like this – they don’t really say anything. But they sound important. Right up until you realise just how many vice-presidents or directors their company actually has.

When you are given a business card – what’s the first thing you notice? Personally, I’m all about the cardboard. And the fonts. Anyone who’s seen or read American Psycho should recognise that tendency.


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