short answer Sunday — 6 short answers to 6 short questions

It’s short answer Sunday — six short answers to six short questions. Here we go…

1. Starting a new job and changing my name in a few months

I’m starting a new job in May, but I’m also getting married in August. It seems like an inconvenience to my new employer to put my current name on the paperwork when I’ll be changing it in a few months. Especially when you consider user credentials, email addresses, business cards, introducing me to the staff, etc. It just makes sense to me to put my new name, but legally it isn’t my name yet.

I’ve already started using my new name in some cases but nothing major and official. What are your thoughts?

I don’t think you should start using the married name until you’re actually married and it’s truly yours, but why not explain the situation to them and ask how they’d like to handle it? That way, you’re not deciding something is an inconvenience for them that they might not care about. Plus, it’s really not a big deal as far as introducing you to the staff and ordering business cards; a name change there is really not going to onerous. It could potentially be a bigger pain with user credentials, so talk to them about that and find out what they think.

2. Is this salary negotiation a red flag?

I applied for a job in which I was spectacularly low-balled. The industry standard is 70k+ minimum, and they offered me 60k. I was floored as I had done some trial contract work for them as part of the process and, when you add it up, the contract work per-hour was higher than 60k a year — and here they were offering to pay me less.

I pointed this out (and asked for 75k+) and they were disinterested in budging to even the level per-hour of the trial; so we parted ways. 2 weeks has gone past and they’ve come back offering me 70k with bonuses up to 74k because they reviewed it and think that I’m now worth it. I want the job but I also know that the whole process was a red flag; do you think that I should say no because of how I was treated — is this a sign for how I will be treated in the job if I take it? They seem so nice when they talk to me and their employees rave about working there.

When you’re doing contract work, you usually have a higher hourly rate than what a salary would break down to — because you’re responsible for paying your own taxes, don’t have benefits, etc.

If employees rave about working there and they’re willing to pay you what you want, I don’t see a major red flag. And I don’t see signs that you were treated badly — this is pretty normal negotiation.

3. Looking for a job soon after starting a new one

I know that you should leave a job off a resume if you left after a few months, but what if you’ve currently been at a job for a few months and you’re already looking for a different job? Is there a way to put that on a resume without looking bad?

Well, you’ve got to be prepared to explain why you’re looking to leave so soon. You’ll definitely be asked.

4. Employers asked about my annual reviews from my current employer

Can a hiring manager ask what rating you received on your annual review? Or if you have ever received a verbal or written warning at your current employer?


5. Following up with a hiring manager who rejected me when a new position opens up

I applied for a job that received 150 applications. I received a phone interview and it went really well. The hiring manager advised me of the process for the next round of interviews and when I could expect a call. I never received the call and sent a follow-up email. She explained HR was historically slow and said that she appreciated my patience and continued interested. Two days later, I received a very gracious rejection letter from the hiring manager. She made a point of telling me how impressed she was with my background, clear comprehension of what the department was looking for, and my professionalism during the interview process.

I was surprised, but honestly the rejection letter was almost apologetic — the nicest rejection letter I had ever received. I sent her a follow-up email thanking her for the opportunity in light of the large number of candidates and expressed my desire to work for such a well respected organization. I wished her and her staff much success and hoped our paths would cross again one day.

I would like to apply for a newly posted position at this organization and want to reach out to her for a referral and maybe insight to better my chances for this position. Would this be appropriate and will you provide some guidance on how to ask for help?

Apply, and then send her a note letting her know that you did. Don’t ask for insight to better your chances though; if she wants to give you that, she will, but if you ask for it, it’s a little too close to saying “give me a special advantage here,” which is too much to ask of someone who doesn’t know you well.

6. Business cards for recent graduates

I am a recent graduate exploring careers in different industries. I recently decided to get a business card to be a bit more professional, and to keep with me in case I find myself in a networking opportunity. I graduated with a psych degree but it is not something that I am pursuing as a career, but rather something I do in my spare time, volunteering. The majority of my professional experience, though in different industries, is administrative.

There’s so much out there as far as what a “young professional” should have on a business card, like graphics (I’m not so sure about that) or listing your skills on the back. I just wanted to get your thoughts on the best format for a business card for a recent grad/young professional that is not industry specific, but is still professional and gives people an idea of what I am about.

Name, contact info, and a brief line explaining what type of work you’re looking for. That’s it. Listing skills on the back — I’m not a fan, although I’m having trouble explaining why. I guess because that turns it into almost a mini-resume, which isn’t really what a business card is. And if you asked if you should carry mini-resumes, I would say no. I’m really having trouble articulating why I don’t like this though, so maybe someone else can supplement this rather feeble answer.

And all this is if you even need a business card — I’m skeptical that they’re particularly useful in this type of context, although they won’t hurt to have.

{ 104 comments… read them below }

  1. Question #2*

    Question #2 here.

    Thanks for your answer! I contacted the employer back and I have accepted the job. I have asked for the performance bonus in writing, and it looks like I will be taking it.

    1. Steve*

      I’d be concerned about the annual increases you’re likely to receive. It sounds like they brought you in at their maximum salary level.

        1. Jessa*

          Exactly, I have a feeling raises are going to be few and far between for awhile on this because if they were so adamant about going at 60k going over 10k more…

          If you like the place and you like the atmosphere and culture and are okay with maybe getting only a cola next year…then yes. They DID decide to spend over 10k more on you.

  2. Anonymous*

    Someone’s in a snarky mood. Apparently #4 was a question from opposing counsel, and so she answered only the question asked.

    1. Daisy*

      Your response is the only snarky one I see. What else should she have said? I can’t see any room for ambiguity in that question.

      1. Josh S*

        Alison usually gives a bit more nuance/information/background beyond just the simple question asked. The one-word answer, while entirely appropriate, is a bit short even for a short-answer-Sunday post. But it made me laugh, and think:

        [shake][shake][shake] Yes, it’s legal.

        /puts magic AAM-ball away

        1. Hate My Company*

          That’s just it: This is another of those “is it legal” questions. The answer is yes. Really nothing more to say other than “Why, are your reviews that poor that you do not want the prospective new company to see them?” But THAT would be a snarky answer.

          1. Jessa*

            I know that the question was “is it legal,” but i think the subtext of the question is “how do you answer this” especially if they’re worried about “can they ask.” To me someone wondering if it’s allowed to ask, is worried about how to answer the question.

            I could be totally wrong of course.

            I love the AAM magic answer ball.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      What else is there to say? Ask a question, get an answer. There are only so many times I can type out “employers can ask for anything they want as long as it’s not related to a protected class such as blah blah blah.”

      And really, it is not a bad idea for people to think about what they really want to know and ask accordingly. Works well in all areas of life.

      1. Spanish Teacher*

        I would have been tempted to add, “Employers are allowed to discriminate against bad employees,” but that might be a little too snarky. :)

      2. Anonymous*

        This reminds me of one of my library of info science classes that briefly covered how reference librarians need to be able to “interview” a patron to get the patron to tell them what they really want (because their initial questions may not convey their actual information need).

        Like a patron asking, “Do you have a section on chocolate teapots?” when they actually want information on the most influential chocolate teapot makers and should have asked, “How can I find out who the most influential chocolate teapot makers were, and how would I find biographical and historical information about them?”

        1. Woodward*

          My friend is a reference librarian at a university and told me the following story.
          Student: Do you have a book on trees?
          Librarian: Yes – any particular type of trees?
          S: North American trees.
          L: Yes – a certain part of North America?
          S: Utah trees. Do you have a book on that?
          L: Yes – just Utah trees in general…?
          S: Well, I guess trees that grow here on campus.
          L: Yes – we actually have a book that documents every tree on campus.
          S: That would be perfect! My friend dared me to eat some leaves off one of the trees outside and I want to know if it’s poisonous!

          1. MeganO*

            Oh man I love this! Ah, the dares of college days…
            What’s weird is that even though I’m a librarian I still occasionally catch myself jumping in mid-question when I ask another librarian for help; I ask for a good biography of Teddy Roosevelt when really I want to know all there is to know about the national park system, and I’ve gotten too wrapped up in my own process to remember I might be asking the wrong question.
            The poisonous leaves question is just awesome.

  3. Daisy*

    Having a business card when you’re not established in any particular field seems a bit pointless/ pretentious to me. People would take your number if they had a particular reason to call you- if you offer a service or could do something for them- but why would they keep a card in this case? If you’re networking to advantage yourself, wouldn’t you be better off taking their info, so you can email as a follow-up?

    1. Josh S*

      I agree, though it’s often easier to exchange business cards than find-a-pen-and-paper-write-down-the-contact-info-and-hope-there’s-no-typos. And getting the other person’s business card is sometimes easier-feeling if you’re exchanging rather than just asking for one (not actually easier, just feels that way when you’re the one asking…kind of an icebreaker).

      1. SevenSixOne*

        Totally. There’s this whole professional social dance of exchanging business cards. Come to the dance empty-handed, and you look like a goober.

        And more importantly, how are you supposed to enter to win free lunches without them, hmmmmmm? ;-)

        1. Aly*

          Exactly!! I’d rather just be prepared than not and end up indeed looking like a goober. And winning free lunches is definitely a perk! I remember I was volunteering at a non-profit event and I ended up speaking with someone who wanted to further discuss a business venture that she was involved with. She didn’t bring any business cards with her, but asked for my info, which i wrote on a cocktail napkin. It would’ve been nice to have a business card then. Luckily she didn’t loose the napkin =)

    2. JT*

      What Josh S. said.

      It’s only pretentious if you go around foisting it on people to show you have one.

      But if you’re at professional networking events, such as conferences, it’s very very good to have one so you can exchange it with other people. You can still email them in the future. One-way requesting/giving of business cards is strange; exchanging is not.

      I’d add that in addition to contact info, consider a URL to a professional website if you have one, such as a blog or online portfolio.

      1. Sydney Bristow*

        I put my LinkedIn URL on my personal business cards. That way if someone is interested in my background and skills they can see those but the short URL looks nicer than something like a list of skills.

      2. Anonymous*

        Use a site like that gives you a one page site where you can add a short bio and links to whatever you feel is relevant (linkedin, blog etc). The biz/contact card is definitely a great idea. Like JT said, just don’t be a pretentious git while handing them out :)

    3. Jessa*

      I have a thing about the backs of cards in general. The only exception I see to that is if you are doing business in a country with a different alphabet and you put the translation on the other side. This is particularly common for cards given out in Japan where there’s a huge cultural thing with cards.

      My thing otherwise though (and also about weird colours on the back,) is that it’s the perfect place for me to note down something about who the person is, why I wanted their card, etc.

      1. Rana*

        I definitely find it useful if I can write on the card. On that note, try to avoid the fancier cards with a slick coating; even ballpoint will smear on those things.

        My own card has my name, what I do, how to contact me, and where to find out more about my background and experience. I don’t bother with an address, since that’s far less permanent than any of the other things.

      2. AG*

        I saw a business card that had the woman’s picture on the front, and a picture of the back of her head on the back!

    4. EngineerGirl*

      Some countries put a heavier weight on business cards. I noticed in Europe people were always asking for and giving me business cards. That and formal introductions. I kind of liked it.

    5. Penny*

      I think in this kind of case it’s more of a “calling” card than actual business card. It’s so they can remember the name of someone they met or pass the contact info along to another professional. It’s a simple way to get your contact info in people’s hands without passing out your resume.

    6. Anonymous*

      I think they’re necessary if attending a professional conference. But agreed: nothing on the back. That’s where people write notes.

  4. Josh S*

    Alison, I think the reason you’re edging away from the “list of skills” on the back of a business card is that it’s a bit ‘gimmicky’.

    Much better to write out the actual relevant skills/information that makes you a good contact for a particular position or helpful for a particular purpose rather than trying to cram in every bit of information that might ever be relevant to some random person you meet.

    Stick with name, phone, (professional-sounding) email address, and the type of job/industry you want to get a job in. Then either a light/simple design or blank on the reverse.

    To the OP — I highly recommend the mini cards from (though there are other sites that offer similar formats). They have a key chain holder ( that stores about 15-20 business cards. I NEVER remember to bring business cards with me, and if I stick them in my wallet they look all beat up, but I *always* have my keys with me, so I always have business cards if I happen to meet someone.

    1. Liz T*

      Also: if you give that card to someone, it’s like you’re directing asking hir for a job. That is not the point of networking.

    2. Esra*

      Seconding the moo suggestion. I think having a contact card rather than a business card is okay. Something simple and clean (the nice thing about moo is they have a lot of templates you can use. If you’re in design, as I am, it’s generally expected you’ll design your own. But if you’re not? You may as well go to town and get something sleek.).

    3. Rana*

      Two warnings about the mini-Moos, though. I had some for a while, and while I and many other people thought they were beautiful and cool, other people (especially older ones) found them hard to read easily. They are also coated with a pretty slick coating, and if you write on them, the ink will smear.

      I got some of the larger, “recycled” Moo cards, and they don’t have either of those problems (and came in a nifty box with a divider for other people’s cards – but I carry a giant tote bag with me everywhere, so they’re easy to have on hand).

  5. Not So NewReader*

    It could be me. But I always thought that business cards were just for name and contact info. Ideally, the back would be blank so the receiver can write on the back of the card why they wanted to remember the card owner’s name. Perhaps OP could write a sentence or reminder phrase on the back of the card before handing it to a person. This would allow OP flexibility in how s/he uses the card.

    Personally, I feel awkward handing out business cards with my personal contact info on them. Part of this stems from the fact that people in my area do not do this very much. However, I know a couple people who do and uh… well, it seems like an over inflation of ones’ self to me. But again, that could be me and/or it could be the influence of the area I live in. Maybe OPs setting is such that this makes perfect sense and it is what everyone does.

    1. Jessa*

      This. exactly. You write on the backs of cards (unless you have a translation there for a foreign country.)

      I mean the best part of having a card, is being able to jot down “Oooh this person is super good for x job,” or “this guy showed up in tatty jeans to a professional conference…free thinker or OMG no sense at all?”

  6. Kimberlee, Esq.*

    Personally, I’m a big fan of the personal business cards, but that’s because I like the whole “personal brand” thing, which often takes a lot of sh*t here in the comments. :)

    It’s particularly useful, I think, to include URLs to your blog, your LinkedIn profile, online portfolio, Twitter handle, etc. And this is the one instance where I think QR codes are under-utilized…. after all, you can include URLs for people who might be nervous about QR, but it’s soooo easy to just add a QR to the corner of the back of the card or something.

    I’ve attended a few networking happy hours, and it is SO MUCH EASIER to just have a card to give to people. And you’d be shocked how many people forget to bring them, or just ran out, etc, and life is just better when at least one person in a networking conversation has a card to give to the other (and ideally, everyone has one to exchange).

    1. Ariel*

      Eh, I find it’s a lot harder for me as a user to pull up the QR app on my phone, scan the code (which pretty much takes forever, despite QR codes being touted as super easy to read), and then figure out where you’ve sent me. I would much, much rather have a URL. If you have a lot of social media stuff, just grab a free site and feed everything in to that.

  7. cncx*

    Re question 1: I work in IT and setting up a couple of email addresses all linked to one login is no biggie (assuming this company like most companies uses microsoft exchange). I would still ask HR/line manager how they want to do regarding business cards- for example, holding off on ordering them, only ordering one box, etc. In some jurisdictions, however (including the country I live in) you do need to use your legal name for work purposes. I’m in the opposite situation (waiting on a divorce to be final) and I’ve already set up some things in my maiden name.

    1. Jamie*

      This. Definitely no big deal when it comes to email/logins/etc. When Jane Smith becomes Jane Wochehowicz I just change her email from jsmith@my company… to jwochehowicz@. jsmith@ still routes there so she won’t lose any email from people who haven’t made the change to their contacts (or are replying to old email.)

      I don’t know why the OP would think it would be an issue with introducing her to people. It may not be universal, but it’s still a pretty common convention for women to change their names upon marriage that I don’t think people will be all that flummoxed by the concept. I’ve gone from maiden name > first husband’s name > back to maiden name > current husband’s name and I’ve never had any trouble …people were able to keep up. :)

      oh and

      I’ve already started using my new name in some cases but nothing major and official.

      I have truly never heard of that before. I can’t imagine using a last name that wasn’t legally mine – why would this be necessary?

  8. Rayner*

    Re #1: I would be wary about using a name you aren’t actually called by officially for any kind of legal/work based paperwork (or any, but especially those) just because it’s not your name.

    Anything can happen between then and now, and even though it might not seem likely, and may never happen, it’ll cause a LOT of bother if it did and you had to explain why actually you aren’t legally Mrs X at all, such as a break up, or a wedding being postponed due to bad weather, illness/injury, a family crisis… The wedding appears to be over three and a half months away, and that’s a long time for things to change.

    Until you’re legally Mrs Kirk, or Mrs Spock – or even Mr Uhura if that’s your choice – it’s probably not a good idea to go around saying you are.

    Also, it won’t take a lot for them to get things changed over. Employees get married/divorced all the time. They’ll probably have a system in place for just such a circumstance.

    1. Jessa*

      This. The ONLY time I did this, was that I insisted that they print my university diploma in my married name. The printer due date was before the wedding but the graduation was WELL after. And I had to fight it, and know that I might have to pay to have a copy made again if I did not get married, but I was not going to graduate over 30 days past my wedding and have all that stuff in the wrong name. And it would have cost me after to have it reprinted.

      1. Ellie H.*

        The university I work for wouldn’t do that. I agree that it sucks and that it makes perfect sense in cases like yours. They can fudge stuff like using a full middle name when only the initial was on record (or vice versa) but a different actual last name needs a marriage license, birth certificate, legal change of name paperwork or similar.

        1. JessB*

          I work for a University, and we would insist on seeing some kind of documentation as well – and it would have to be some kind of state level documentation, not just a wedding invitation, etc.

          In some ways, I think this is good, as it protects the students from fraud – you don’t want someone able to make a phone call and change the name that’s getting printed on your graduation certificate. In other ways, I can see that it would be a lot of trouble for students, such as those in a situation like Jessa’s, above.

    2. Kate in Scotland*

      I go by Kate for everything, but my legal name is the long version. When changing jobs, it’s a difficult balance to fill in enough forms with ‘Kate’ to get the email address I want while managing to get the pay cheque in the legal name. My experience is that companies vary in how reasonable they are, worth giving them a heads-up to try to avoid all your email going into the void when you change, as happened to a couple of friends of mine at my old job.

    3. Samantha*

      Agreed. I recently got married and while I was able to begin changing my last name on some work related things (business cards, email address, name tag, etc.) before I left to get married, I couldn’t officially change my name with HR and payroll until after I got married and received my new social security card and drivers license with my married name.

      1. Catbertismyhero*

        The paychecks/benefits are the key here. The employer has to report earnings, and the names and social security numbers have to match. This is also required for the I-9. While email addresses, business cards, etc. are no big deal, you have to use your legal name for pay and benefits.

  9. Jane*

    In recent months I have seen a bunch of cards from recent graduates in my field (law) . Unfortunately there are a lot of unemployed recent (and not so recent) law school grads. I think it’s a good idea to have a business card even when you are not currently employed. I also once met a lawyer who had two sets of business cards, one issued by her employer with her business contact info and one she made herself with her personal contact info. I can see the benefit of that as well. I think keeping the business card simple is best. I would include the name, email address, and degree only. I have seen some nice cards with solid background colors (other than white), so that is an option too, but otherwise, keep it simple and clean. In the case of someone who is switching fields I would bring that up again when reaching out to someone for an informational interview or for follow up rather than worrying about putting that info somewhere on the card. I also would not worry if it is an undergrad degree because people frequently do not pursue careers in the field in which they have a degree, so I don’t think there is a need to note that on the card itself.

    1. JT*

      “I also once met a lawyer who had two sets of business cards, one issued by her employer with her business contact info and one she made herself with her personal contact info.”

      I’m not a lawyer and am employed and use my “personal” card a bit. They’re cheap – like $40 or less for as many as I’ll need for years. I’ve got a few in my card case plus my actual business cards, and use whichever is more appropriate. Mine has name, phone number, email address and website URL. No degrees listed.

      1. Jessa*

        Exactly. So much easier to hand over a card with name, address, phone, email, than try to find a piece of paper and a pencil and spell out things. And yes to personal AND business cards. Some people you just don’t want to have your home info, but some you do.

      2. Emily K*

        I’m a social card lover too! My current one has my name, personal email, cell phone number, a graphic I like, and a quote that matches one I have tattooed on me. It’s great at bars, concerts, parties, when you meet someone and your phone is dead and of course nobody carries paper or pen these days, you can just pull out a social card for them.

  10. Anonymous*

    I wouldn’t put anything – printed or handwritten – on the back of a business card I was giving to someone else. That’s the space I use to write notes on a business card I received, and I assume I should give others the same option. The only exception I can think of are dual-language reversible cards for frequent international travelers.

    I also can’t help wondering what others are thinking the OP could write? “Great candidate for the chocolate teapot team!” or “Superior teapot making skills!” would be a big turnoff for me if I read it on a card (which I would then transfer to the nearest circular file). Even if I had been about to write the same thing myself, it would still have that effect – it’s incredibly presumptuous.

    I’m trying to think of a circumstance in which this would not have a negative effect, and the only one I can think of is when the card was used to transfer information (“I don’t have anything else to write the address for the [unrelated non-business] web site we’ve been discussing, so let me put it on the back of my business card”).

    My advice to the OP is to stick to name and contact information. If you include a type of job or industry, this may be unnecessarily limiting. If you meet someone at the annual convention of chocolate teapot makers, they will assume you are interested in chocolate teapot making – you don’t need to write it.

    But when your search for a job making chocolate teapots doesn’t get the traction you were hoping for, you might want to branch out. Then when you attend a networking event for the association of cinnamon coffeepot makers, they will assume you share a common interest – unless your card specifies chocolate teapot making. If you try to generalize by noting your interest in making beverage containers, you’re just going to appear unfocused. Give yourself a break and stick to the basics – as Alison said, this isn’t a mini-resume.

    Good luck with your job search.

    1. Girasol*

      I like AAM’s idea to use one’s own name and warn HR that a name change is coming. On the one hand, there’s a lot of sensitivity to new employees lying about themselves, and using the new name early could be misconstrued as such. OTOH, HR can be very anal about names. When I married and announced my name change, in which I dropped my given middle name and my maiden name for NMI, an HR rep called and said (through clenched teeth) that a middle name was *company policy* and my behavior would NOT BE TOLERATED. My father, who really has no middle name, carried the initial “R” for all his business years as a result of similar problems. Preparing HR up front for a name change might avoid causing such a fuss.

      1. HRAnon*

        @ Girasol- your HR department is ridiculess.

        To the OP I agree with the others to check with your company on how they want to do it. At my company, the name we have in our system for you is the name used for payroll, (and there is a legal requirement to pay you under your legal name…) our system limits us to 1 name per person- using a name that is not yours would not fly at my company. And you would have to provide the documentation of name changes – new SS card, marriage certificate, court order or whatever. Using “not your name” and then having to explain that it is not actually your name could be an awkward way to start a new job.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        What the flegnard? That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard ever.

        So if you have a baby, they would insist on you giving it a middle name because IT IS COMPANY POLICY? :P

      3. Ellie H.*

        That’s crazy – so many people don’t have middle names. (I wish I didn’t; I have two, and effectively three because I only use the last part of my hyphenated last name professionally.)

      4. JT*

        “I have no middle name now. It would be deceptive to suggest I do by adding a middle initial.”

        If they can’t deal with that and you really (legally) have no middle name, escalate within the company. Don’t put up with that nonsense.

        My wife has no middle name BTW.

        A person from my high school, who had a very common name but no middle name, chose a single digit number as her middle name as her career took off. Not sure if this is legally part of her name though. It’s certainly distinctive.

          1. Chocolate Teapot*

            Just out of curiosity, what happens if you have a name like Henry Charles Albert David or Elizabeth Alexandra Mary?

  11. Beth*

    In the 19th century, people commonly left “calling cards” in a bowl near a home’s entrance. It was left as a reminder that they visited and an invitation to the home owner to visit the card leaver. These were the preceptors of business cards. I think someone who does not currently have a professional position, should have a card with: name, phone number, email address. I don’t feel this is at all pretentious. I think it’s a throw back to courtesy and etiquette.

    1. Ruby*

      If the caller had paid a personal visit, as opposed to a footman or a servant to announce to imminent arrival of the visitor, the corner of the card a was bent down, or marked somehow, as an indication they had been there personally. These later developed into “Carte de Visites” (visiting cards) which had a photograph of the visitor.

      1. khilde*

        I had heard about the origin of calling cards, but didn’t realize this bit of it!! Fascinating, thanks for sharing.

  12. Anonymous*

    Most people in my business school class ordered business cards (the school or a student organization coordinated the orders). The cards had the school logo on the left and then:

    Firstname Lastname
    MBA Class of xxxx


    School Address


      1. marbar*

        I assume they used them for the same thing that I used them for in business school — i.e. to hand out at company recruiting events/MBA recruitment conventions/networking events when potential employers asked, “Do you have a card?” If you’re going to B-school full-time, you don’t have an employer to put onto your card, and having a card that has no reference to your MBA program means that a potential recruiting contact is much less likely to remember who you are.

        And Alison, maybe some elements of the real world scoff at it, but unless things have changed radically since I was in B-school (2006-08), just about every full-time MBA student has business cards associated with his/her MBA program, and is expected to provide them to potential employers. There are a whole lot of events specifically geared to match MBA students to potential employers — such as the National Society of Hispanic MBAs conference (no, you don’t have to be Hispanic to attend) — at which I was asked for cards countless times. Maybe now everyone just exchanges contact info electronically, but otherwise, I’d advise full-time MBA students to invest in cards.

      2. Anonymous*

        We used them when meeting people who might need our contact info. For example, we did a lot of consulting projects at the school I attended, including ones that involved international travel. I traveled to Asia for a few and used them with our clients and when we exchanged business cards at the beginnings of interviews (which was a big deal there).

        Also at conferences and other events held on campus with alumni, recruiters, other MBA students etc. Any time you needed to quickly pass on your contact info to someone you were meeting.

        This was more than 10 years ago – before the rise of social networking. I don’t know if they are still as common.

    1. Kat M*

      So basically,

      School Ad
      Personal Info
      School Ad

      School Ad
      School Ad

      School Ad
      Personal Info

      I’ll bet the school coordinated those orders! What a waste of paper real estate.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      This is one of those things that schools encourage that the real world kind of …. scoffs at? I think. Like students/recent grads signing their emails with “Elizabeth Bennett, B.A., class of 2014”

      1. Mistress of Arts Degree*

        In my experience, when one is a graduate student (that’s POST-graduate, for the non-Americans here) it can be very important to have card that is official and from the university. Graduate programs are far different from BAs.

        At the graduate level, you do extensive, professional quality research, outside the confines of the university (this is especially true for already-established professionals who who are getting their MA or PhD.) Depending on the field, you may need to conduct meetings and interviews with government officials, business leaders, etc., and it must be made clear that you are not “some college kid.”

        You would present yourself absolutely as (fictional example) “I am John/Jane Smith of the Urban Planning Department at Cleveland University, doing my graduate research on water treatment processing in mixed-use former-industrial areas. Here is my card.”

        In other words, at this level, one is not some 18 year old kid taking a 100-level course. They may be doing a 600-level professional practicum, doing their Masters research engaging high-level leaders in the field, working on a team of grad students consulting for a public works initiative, etc.

        1. Mistress of Arts Degree*

          *also, at the graduate level, especially as a fulltime graduate (again, that’s post-graduate to non Americans) student, that is your JOB. (Yes, even if you are paying for it.)

      2. JT*

        A couple of my professors in library school a few years ago urged us to have cards for the similar reasons to what marbar said, though not necessarily with the school and degree. They suggested the degree on the card (though not the school) if the person was going into work in a library specifically.

        This included one who has an adjunct who’d hired a bit, but was currently working as a consultant so also was doing a lot of networking herself.

        I wasn’t job seeking while in school, but I recall being in a fast-food restaurant next to a person who turned out to be very senior in our field and got to talking. We naturally exchanged cards. It happens. It looks good to be ready.

  13. kristinyc*

    Re #1 – I started my job the last week in August and got married in October. Some of my logins at work still have my maiden name, but it was no big deal to change everything else. My co-workers actually adapted to my new name faster than I did because a lot of them were just meeting me after I got married. Don’t worry about it!

    (And congrats!)

    1. Liz in the City*

      #1 Congrats! And yeah, you should hold off on the switch until you have all of your government forms in your new married name. Why? Because it can take FOREVER! I got married in October and didn’t have my new SS card with my married name (which my work needed to officially change my forms) until January of the next year. So it would have screwed up my tax papers and such if I had been using my new married name on any official forms. And your IT people shouldn’t have issues forwarding email from you old address.

  14. Cat*

    I knew a criminal defense attorney who put instructions for dealing with the cops on the back of her business cards. I don’t remember the details – something like “Be respectful; take the breathalyzer test; do not answer any questions without an attorney.” That’s the only thing I’ve seen on the back of a business card that really worked for me.

    1. Jessa*

      THAT makes a huge amount of sense. What a great idea. Now if their clients LISTENED to that. One of the big attorney advisors online who does classes on this stuff, says he keeps trying to make people understand this.

      Even if you are totally innocent. The only words you ever say to the police are your identification and “lawyer please.” EVER. You think you’re saying stuff that proves you’re innocent and they’re listening with an ear to “prove you guilty.” Now most of the time you get that straightened out. But who needs to sit there for hours while something your lawyer could have fixed gets done around in circles. If I were a criminal lawyer, I’d put in big giant red letters “DO NOT TALK TO THE POLICE.”

        1. The gold digger*

          After we bought our house, the property assessor kept trying to make an appointment to come look at the inside of our house. We refused, not just on principle, but also because we were busy.

          She showed up one day unannounced, knocked on the door, and wanted to come in. I was livid and wanted to yell, “Have you heard of the fourth amendment?”

          But I just said, “No. You cannot come in. Goodbye.”

          1. Jessa*

            On the other hand if your house is less inside than the ones near it (not a recently redone kitchen or bath or something,) you COULD end up with a higher appraisal that it’s worth. I do however agree that “make an appointment darn it.” is really a good idea.

  15. Long time reader, first time poster*

    I don’t know what industries #6 is looking in, but in politics/government, it’s almost mandatory to have cards to hand out, employed or not. Plus, I agree with others that it’s a lot easier/cleaner to hand someone a card vs. fumbling around for a pen and paper to write down info or put it in their phone. The benefit of business cards in that respect is that with a physical, (usually) cleanly-laid out card, people are more likely to remember you and your information, vs. the other ways mentioned.

    For example, since I’m only temporarily working on a campaign right now, beside my personal contact info, I have my most important board title highlighted, along with a state-level delegate and non-profit volunteer position noted. Again though, what works for my field(s) may not work for others though.

  16. perrik*

    #1: Definitely check with your employer to determine what kind of a hassle you’re in for when you change your name after marriage. Email login can be a real annoyance! It’s pretty typical for your login to be firstname.lastname or firstinitiallastname or some such thing. Some mail administrators will issue a new login with your new name and then redirect mail (for a certain amount of time) from your old account to the new one. Some will change the display name but not the email address, which is confusing as heck. Some will just shrug and say too bad, no name change for you.

    The reason I finally legally changed my first name (to the name I’d been using since age 12) is that my new employer would only use your full legal name as the login credential, email address, and display name. This meant that Betty was listed as Elizabeth, Peggy as Margaret, and me with a name I really didn’t want to use. Much to my annoyance, IT wouldn’t even change the display name after the name change, let alone the email address or login account. (to make it worse, I had an account for a second organization affiliated with my employer, and they also wouldn’t change anything). I had to change jobs to reclaim my identity! Grrr.

    Er, anyway, check with the employer to see how their IT department will handle the computer stuff. Business cards won’t be an issue – they can either wait until you’ve changed your name, or they’ll just print new ones later.

    #6: For your personal card, include your name, contact info, and LinkedIn and/or website URL. Leave it at that. All your skills and such should go on the LinkedIn profile or online resume. FYI, some universities offer business cards to new graduates (free or cheap), so check with yours. Otherwise use something at or (warning – the free cards have Vistaprint advertising on the back, so go for the upgrade), or buy a pack of Avery blank card stock and print your own design.

  17. Janet*

    I got a new job in May and was married that July. I used my maiden name for all of my paperwork. The only department that fought me was IT. They were a bit lazy and argumentative and they didn’t want to have to switch my e-mail address once my name changed so they insisted on giving me a work e-mail with my married name. It was confusing for people e-mailing me for about 2 months and then once I was married it settled down.

    But I remember a conversation with the IT guy where I said “I really don’t like the idea of having my married name on my e-mail until I’m actually married.” and he was like “Why?” and I said “Well, what if I’m left at the alter” and he said “Do you really think that will happen” and I stared at him and said “Well, I don’t think anyone really expects that to happen . . . ” and he said “Yeah, it will just be easier for me if I only have to give you one e-mail address. Ah, IT.

    I recently returned to work at a place where I’d worked part-time as an undergrad and their IT couldn’t understand why I didn’t want my old e-mail address from 15 years ago. I was like “That hasn’t been my name for 10 years . . .” and they still seemed confused.

    1. JT*


      “It’s not my name.”

      Don’t justify it any further than that.

      They’re not confused – they’re lazy and/or have systems that make it hard for them to do.

      My organization’s IT department (one guy) is good. When someone gets married they are happy to change the name, but also set up forward on incoming mail so messages to the old address get through too.

  18. Chocolate Teapot*

    I know of some people who have very simple personal cards with name, phone number and personal email address at most.

    On the subject of married names, I know quite a few double-barrels. My Doctor is Dr Smith, but on her invoices, and in the phone book she is Dr Smith-Taylor. However, this may be a cultural thing.

  19. Elizabeth West*

    I have a business card for writing with my name, phone number and email address and the URL of my writing blog. It also has a picture of me on it that matches the one on my blog, which also matches my Twitter picture. I got it at Vistaprint. They really do have nice cards.

  20. Jesicka309*

    All I use business cards for is for putting in those bowls where you can win a raffle prize.
    So I say put your name, email, phone number and field, plus directions on where to send your prizes to. :)

    1. louise*

      That was the first thing I thought of! It stinks to be the person standing there filling out a slip of paper. If for no other reason, prize fishbowls make cards a necessity.

  21. Anonymous*

    #1 – Have you considered just changing your name now? Or just getting the legal marriage part taken care of immediately, and leaving the ceremony date as-is? Then you don’t have to go through all this nonsense with a new employer and you still get to have your fancy wedding ceremony.

    Really, no one cares when the paperwork got done, they just want to share in the cake & booze (and maybe the religious part, depending on your family). Do what makes sense for your circumstances, not what some manners book from the 1800s dictates is the “correct order of events”. All those customs predate modern HR paperwork and women being major players in the workforce.

    1. perrik*

      Changing your name due to marriage requires providing the marriage certificate as proof – no big deal. Changing your name legally otherwise (except for reasons of divorce or adoption) is a longer process. In my county, you must pay to petition for the change of name; said petition must be posted in the court or published in the newspaper for a certain number of days, after which you’ll receive the name change certificate needed for changing your SSN, driver’s license, etc.

      By the time she’s done with all that, it’ll be time for the wedding anyway.

    2. Lynn*

      This is getting outside the scope of AAM, but in a lot of families, having a legal wedding at the courthouse and a “real” wedding later could cause a lot of hard feelings for a long time. I’ve run across a LOT of people who feel strongly that they want to see the actual wedding, and not a “farce”, “sham”, or “re-enactment”. I don’t get it personally, but I think mine is the minority view and they are in the majority.

      1. kristinyc*

        @ Anonymous & Lynn – Yeah, try going to TheKnot’s etiquette message boards and suggest that, and see what happens. It’s not pretty.

  22. Alyson*

    Poster of question #6 here! All the business card feedback has been extremely helpful! In this particular situation, I definitely agree that simpler is better. I think in general it would be better to have one than not have one just because its easier to whip out rather than digging through my purse for pen and paper. One interesting thing that I picked up on was the personal card vs. business card. Would a personal card be a better idea? To be honest, they’d probably carry the same info anyway.

  23. Jobseeker*

    Question #5:
    Thank you Alison for the feedback. I not sure if I was clear the new posting was in a different department or if it would make a difference. Making contact is akward, which was why I reached out to you, but I thought it could be viewed as networking. Am I reaching?

  24. Jill*

    #6 – Business Cards.
    Let’s not loose sight of the purpose of a business card here. It’s to help you make and keep contact, especially with new people.

    Go with Allison’s recommendation for the front of the card. But for God’s sake, leave the back BLANK. Our Board member’s carry business cards. We have our contact info and logo on one side and a map of their territory on the back. STUPID! The back should be left blank so that you can write a quick note to help the person remember you like “from Bob’s retirement party” or “call me for to chat about those water heaters” or something. That’s what makes a business card a useful networking tool. Covering both sides with useless info is not!

  25. ssam.sothearotth*

    I don’t know for this question but want to answer.
    1- what specifies policies should a company follow to avoid interviews like this one?
    2- explain why Jack, not Pete, should make the selection decision.

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