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Have you ever stopped to consider the difference of a job versus a career? Why are some things “jobs” and others clearly “careers”? In this post, we’re talking about the difference of a job vs career.
Job vs Career?
Although these words are often used interchangeably, job and career have two different meanings. Webster’s Dictionary defines job as a “regular, paying position in which you have a specific duty, role, or function,” while a career is defined as a “profession for which one trains, and which is undertaken as a permanent calling.” Let’s look at three practical ways a job differs from a career.
Related: What is a Career?
1. A Job is Temporary; A Career is Long Term
A job, vs a career, is a short-term solution for a human need. Most people get jobs because they need income to make a living. Jobs are not built for long-term success as they do not facilitate long-term growth. To further prove the short-term nature of jobs, statistics show that most people have had ten jobs by the time they turn 42 and employers expect workers to change jobs once every three years.
A career is a long-term professional plan you create which best utilizes your passions, skills, experiences, and education. Careers consider where you currently are, where you want to go, and what you need to do to get there.
2. A Job is Role-Centric; A Career is Skill-Centric
A job focuses on one role – one position with specific functions. Specific functions can include things such as prepare reports, answer customer inquiries, maintain accurate records, follow specific processes and procedures, use proprietary software, or meet certain performance standards. While these are useful skills to have, they may or may not be useful when moving to another job. For example, if you learn to use a company’s proprietary software for a specific role, that would not be useful to you if you move to another company that uses another type of software.
A career focuses on building transferable skills that will help you advance. Transferable skills are those which can be carried from one role to the next. Some examples include communication, adaptability, critical thinking, innovation, and leadership. When you build a career, you focus on your marketable skills as opposed to focusing on meeting the tasks of a job description. For example, if you are a great leader, you can lead teams of entry-level or senior-level employees; teams of technical or functional employees. A great leader can lead based on their own skill, not based on the role they are given.
Related: How To Move From A Job To A Career
3. A Job is Transactional; A Career is Relational
A job is a means to an end – it is done to produce a desired result. For people with jobs, it is about fulfilling a responsibility to your employer. In exchange for expected work, you receive pay and benefits.
A career is fulfillment of your life purpose. It is tied to your identity. Doctors want to help people live healthy lives. Teachers want to ensure children are prepared to become contributing citizens of society. Coaches want to help people remove barriers and live their best lives. For people with a career, it is more about doing a task from day to day, it is about fulfilling a passion in their lives.
To help you understand the difference, consider the cases of Rebecca and Jennifer.
Rebecca works as a medical coder for a hospital.
Rebecca received training for the job as a medical coder and knows how to use her company’s software.
She clocks in and out every day and doesn’t think about work when she’s at home.
She wants to do a good job to impress her boss and maintain her salary to support her family.
She does not have a career path built, she is content to stay in this job as long as she is treated fairly.
Rebecca does not feel any passion at her workplace; she counts down the hours until 5 pm each day.
Jennifer is an account manager for an insurance company.
Jennifer has built her experience, education, and skills to better position her for success.
She is a salaried employee and checks emails and voicemails over the weekend to stay caught up.
She wants to get better visibility and access to senior leadership to grow her career.
She has a clear career path built, outlining where she wants to be in six months, one year, and five years.
Jennifer is passionate about building relationships with others and takes time to network both inside and outside the workplace.
Passion is the difference between a job and a career.
Are You Working a Job or Building a Career?
Wondering where you are on the job/career spectrum? Take this short quiz to find out:
1. My current employment situation is:
b. Long term
2. I am working towards:
a. Staying in my current position
b. Progressing towards a higher level
3. My current focus is:
a. Doing my job well
b. Building my transferable skills
4. My current position is:
a. A means to an end
b. A calling
5. I am still in my current position because of a sense of:
If you answered mostly As, you are working a job. If you answered mostly Bs, you are building a career.
A job is a just a stop on your career journey. As you begin to think about the next steps in your career, think strategically about where you are and where you want to go. What are the things you’re good at? What do you love to do? What do people often ask your help for? What is something you’re so passionate about, you’d do it for free? As you begin to answer these questions, you can start to map out your career desires.
Now that you understand the difference between a job and a career, you can begin to build the career that will utilize your best self, ignite your passion, and provide long-term satisfaction.
Careers Advice Online. (n.d.). Career Change Statistics | Careers Advice Online. [online] Available at: https://careers-advice-online.com/career-change-statistics.html [Accessed 12 Feb. 2020].
Has this resonated with you? I’d love to hear from you….
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