In the United States, a typical job tenure is two to four years. Each year, about 25% of the workforce experiences career transition whether it be through layoff, termination or just a desire to progress one’s career.
The unfortunate truth is that nearly half of all executives who move into new jobs leave them within 18 months of being hired. This has been verified by several sources. The Corporate Leadership Council reported that nearly half of new executive hires quit or are fired within the first 18 months at a new employer. Harvard Business School reported a 40% to 60% failure rate of US executives in 2003. Right Management consultants indicated that about 30% of new managers and executives fail at their new jobs and leave within 18 months.
We estimate the cost of turnover is about 35% of an incumbent’s total compensation (which considers recruiting fees and lost productivity among other things). With that in mind, for every $100,000 in executive compensation, this kind of turnover is costing $35,000 per year.
Some of these failures could be attributed to a lack of fit with the organization that wasn’t apparent during the recruiting process. Perhaps skills fell short of expectations and were not up to the task. You may want to believe all your employees are happy about the new guy, but what about those who feel they were passed over in favour of an outsider? But a large part is a function of the employers not doing enough to help ensure these new employees get off to a good start with their organization.
A recent study of onboarding practices by the Olinger Group of Chicago, sponsored by benefits consultancy ALEX reveals some startling data on how effective – or not- employers’ onboarding practices are. The survey collected inputs from 400 employees, representing a cross-section of age and seniority.
Only slightly more than half of the employees surveyed (52.3%) indicated their employer had a formal onboarding process. Another 37.5% indicated there was NO formal onboarding program in place at their companies. That still leaves about 10% who did not know if there was an onboarding program, which probably means there was none.
Note the emphasis on “formal”. All companies have some form of onboarding process. Usually, it’s ad hoc or just informally structured. Companies that have the lowest turnover rates have clearly defined processes for onboarding new hires.
The first day on a new job is a defining moment in an employee’s experience.
In the ALEX/Olinger study, 72.3% of respondents indicated they received no welcome message from their new supervisor. One in five did not have a desk on their first day, another quarter had no computer and over a third had no phone or voice mail on their first day. Does this sound like their employers planned for their arrival?
Just under a third (27%) of new employees say they arrived to their first day of work without having received a first day agenda.
Feedback is lacking. Nearly 44% of respondents indicated they received no formal written review of their progress from their manager within their first 90 days on the job.
There’s clearly a difference in the effect of onboarding on employee satisfaction. For those companies with formal onboarding processes, 71% of new hires rated their job satisfactions as “Very satisfied” or “Somewhat satisfied”. Without formal onboarding, employee satisfaction dropped to 25%. “New hires are nearly three times more likely to be “somewhat satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the new job experience when their employers have an onboarding program in place.”
Aberdeen Group’s 2012 report, “Onboarding 2012: Accelerating Time to Performance” noted a couple of key items. First, among companies with best-in-class onboarding, 71% of new hires were rated as “Exceeds Expectations” vs. only 13% at companies with poor onboarding processes. Second, those companies with best-in-class onboarding observed an 11% improvement in employee retention while those companies with poor onboarding saw a 13% decrease in employee retention.
If you still think onboarding isn’t important, consider this. There’s significant payback in terms of customer satisfaction and customer retention that impact your bottom line. Companies with great onboarding processes realized 6 times the customer satisfaction and 5 times the customer retention rate compared with companies with poor onboarding practices,
Next week, we’ll walk you through what a good first day on the job should be.
Here are some tips to help you create better, more effective business cards.
Information to include
The fonts you use should project professionalism, so stick with standard fonts such as Times New Roman, which is very traditional, or Helvetica/Arial, which is clean and modern. There are lots of other similar fonts available as well.
Avoid unusual or artsy fonts. They may make your card look funky to you, but potential employers might not find them appealing.
Some fonts tend to print smaller in the same point size than others. The font Copperplate for example will look like 6 point while set in 7 point. Keep this in mind while testing your card.
Use a single font family throughout your card. Mixing fonts makes you look disorganized and unprofessional. Within a single font family, you are free to use different sizes, bold, underline and italic styles.
Your name should ideally be in 12 point type. We suggest using boldface for your name to help it stand out from everything else. Normally, your business card would be set up so your title would be the same point size as your address details or even 1 point smaller. For job search, your title defines what type of position you are seeking, so it’s more important than ever. Make your title smaller than your name, but no less than 10 points.
Your address and phone/email information should be no smaller than 6 points. Anything below this will be hard to read. A good target for most body text is to use 7 to 8 point.
Unless you are going to have your cards professionally printed, avoid having borders close to the edges of the card or graphics that go up to the edges.
A clean simple background is probably the best. Dark coloured text, printed on white or light coloured stock is more readable than white text printed on a dark background.
Avoid cluttering the face of the card with too much information. It will no longer be inviting to read and does not look professional.
Develop a one-line slogan
If what you do isn’t immediately apparent from your business name, create a one-line slogan that will help people remember what you sell. Include the slogan on your business card.
Make your card readable
Use (or insist your designer uses) font sizes that are big enough to be easily readable without using a magnifying glass. Be sure the type color stands out against the background of the card, too. Light gray type on a white card makes it hard to distinguish letters and numbers. Remember, your goal isn’t to produce a work of art. It’s to produce a business card that clearly communicates what you do and how to reach you. If recipients can’t read the contact information you’ll lose sales.
One Side or Two Sides?
In most cases, printing all your information on one side of a card will be sufficient. This leaves the back of the card clear so people can make notes as you speak with them.
If you have particular skills you want to highlight or promote, you can list these on the back side of the card. This helps you avoid having a front side that is cluttered with information, However, still try to leave room for note-taking.
Printing a second side can add a small premium to the cost of having your card printed, but usually not much. You also can purchase print-it-yourself card stock that can be printed both sides to experiment with layouts until you are satisfied enough to have them printed professionally.
Make your card stand out from the rest of the pack
Yes, your business card may wind up stuffed in a desk drawer with a stack of other business cards. Make it stand out from the rest by using bright colors, including your photo on the card, or using high gloss card stock.
Have your business cards printed on good card-stock
If the card feels flimsy or looks like you printed it yourself on a cheap printer, it will leave people with impression that they are dealing with a small company that will disappear as soon as the owner finds a real job. Have your business card professionally printed on good heavyweight business card stock.
Although some of the preprinted paper that you can buy to create your own business cards is heavy enough to pass for a “real” business card, most people will get better results by having their business cards professionally typeset and printed. Professionally printed cards may cost less than the print-it-yourself variety, too. If you order business cards online from a site like Vista Print, you’ll pay about $20 (or sometimes less) for 500 full-color professionally printed business cards. (Shipping is extra.) By comparison, good, heavy-weight preprinted business card stock that you use to print your own business cards is likely to cost you $30 to $40 or more — and that doesn’t include the cost of the ink or toner to print them.
Be careful about high gloss coatings.
High-gloss coatings can add brilliance to your card that helps it stand out from all the rest, but they can create problems as well.
The very high-gloss coatings used by printers are UV cured and usually contain waxes or silicones that can make it difficult for someone to write notes on your card. The more common gloss coating that most printers use is water-based and can be written on.
Advice for high gloss coatings is to use them on the front side only and leave the back side uncoated or coated with the normal grade of coating so people can take notes. Another alternative is to use a high gloss coating only on select areas of your card – e.g., a logo or your name. The contrast between high gloss and little or no gloss helps make these elements stand out, though expect to pay a premium for this type of treatment.
Print your own cards if you don’t have time to order them elsewhere
If you need cards in a hurry because you’ve run out of them, the print-it-yourself variety is a viable option. Avery’s Linen Textured Stock has a good feel to it and prints beautifully on an inkjet printer. For best results, use the “Best” printing mode of your inkjet printer. If you follow Avery’s directions for separating the cards, there are no tell-tale rough edges or perforations.
The most important element on business cards are text sizes. If your text is too small, clients might struggle to read information on the cards. There should be a visual balance between the size and position of the address and the name and title.
Be sure to print your business card a couple of times while designing it. If printing on standard sized copy paper, take some effort to cut away the rest of the paper to see if the layout balances well.
Here is an example to illustrate some of the principles we’ve set forth:
Our next post will show you some examples of business card designs to give you a better idea of the creative scope you have.
Why We Need Business Cards
One thing I find especially frustrating at networking meetings is when people have no business cards.
For those of us who are older, not having a business card makes it harder for us to remember a person’s name or other details.
Some people complain that it’s expensive to get them. It’s not. You can get business cards for under $30. You can even design and print off your own cards at home for under $30.
Others complain they can’t afford a designer to do their cards. Many printers have templates you can use that have 4-color professionally-created designs and offer these free in return for your business. Even Microsoft Office has free business card templates you can use.
Here’s why you should have business cards with you at any event you attend.
Clarity. Business cards carry your contact information in a small, easy-to carry format that anyone can use.
Relationship building. After shaking hands, the exchange of business cards is a signal of interest in continuing a relationship. In effect, you are sharing your personal contact information with someone else. It also makes it easier for the other party to follow up with you at a later date because they have your contact information – and in an easy-to-read format.
Image. The design and materials used in making your business card convey messages about who you are and what you stand for. A cheap-looking business card on poor quality stock can make you or your company look untrustworthy. A heavier card stock feels more substantial, and can suggest you pay attention to the details.
Promotion. Business cards can tell someone what type of business you are or what kind of profession you belong to. One rule in networking is to let people know what you do and what you are looking for. Without that information they will have a hard time helping you.
Memory Aid. When you hand someone your business card it can help them remember your name and/or business. They can write notes on it for future follow up. By giving them your card, you’ve made it easy for them to work with you.
TIP: When you receive someone’s business card and you wish to make a note, write what you can do for that person. It helps keep you in a “giving” frame of mind, always a factor for successful networking.
Business Cards for Job-Seekers
As soon as you find yourself in transition, no matter what your previous profession, you are in sales – selling yourself to prospective employers. A business card is one of the most important marketing tools you will ever create to support your job search.
The business card identifies who you are, what you do and how to contact you to help networking contacts understand how they can help you.
As a part of your personal brand image, your business card should make you memorable, distinctive and professional.
Our next post will describe the essential components of a good business card and provide some design suggestions.