What’s the difference between a job and a career? - Career HQ
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What’s the difference between a job and a career?

Is a ‘job’ the same as a ‘career’? What is the difference, and can you move from one to the other?

How to choose a career

The words ‘job’ and ‘career’ are often used to mean the same thing. But are they really the same? Is working IN a job the same as working TOWARDS your career?

A job is what you do on a regular basis to get income, to help you pay bills and maintain a certain type of lifestyle. It’s a transaction between you and your employer, in exchange for payment. As such, a job is often short-term, and you may have many different jobs over the course of your working life.

A career, on the other hand, is a longer term goal. A career starts with education, and learning a set of skills, focussing on your strengths and weaknesses. A career involves a number of jobs, each hopefully allowing you to build on the skills and knowledge you have already acquired, and acting as stepping stones on your career path.

Why choose a career and not just a job?

When you begin your career journey, you don’t always know where your early jobs will lead. For some, they will simply be a means to provide income while finishing study or the first opportunity to achieve income and work experience after finishing their education, or perhaps to acquire skills that may lead to the start of a career.

But for others, starting working life by choosing jobs that interest you, or that play to your likes and strengths, can indeed be the beginning of a career. People choose to embark on a career to develop their talents, really enjoy what they do, and care about how they spend their time each day. Additionally, your earning potential is, in most cases, higher in a career than in a series of jobs.

A good strategy as you think about starting your career is to do a self-assessment to reflect on your strengths, weaknesses, interests, lifestyle and passions. The CareerHQ Compass can help you assess your fit with prospective careers. What do you want to achieve? Would you like to do what makes you happy or rather choose something that pays a little more? It’s all down to your own desires, but a proper career fit tends to be a better long term solution.

While you can APPLY for a job, you need to PLAN for a career – it is what YOU make it. Set yourself some short term and long term goals. Think about the career in smaller steps that are realistic and eventually work towards the ultimate goal. If you are like many people who we see between 26 and 34 years of age and who want to move from working in a job(s) to pursuing a career, a well considered plan is important to achieve your objectives. Even if you select and pursue a career path, today’s rapidly changing world makes it highly likely that most people will have multiple careers. This is not to be feared or a reason not to pursue a career path. Rather it makes it more important that you become familiar with the process of reviewing and selecting your career options and interests throughout your career. If you are still a student, a good short term goal might be to get an entry-level or trainee job to break into an industry, which would allow you to get a feel of what that industry is like.

career path

Risks and rewards

Once you start thinking about your career as a longer term objective, you might also realise that every step you take counts. The decisions you make, and the actions you take, need to be done with good reason, as they determine what happens next on your career path.

Thinking critically about your career steps can help avoid career mistakes, and help you achieve your short and long term goals more quickly and more easily. What many people don’t realise is that by making reasoned decisions, you might also take more calculated risks, rather than fall back on certainty or the status quo. And calculated risks can lead to success through more fulfilment in your work, greater career progression, and perhaps even higher income.

A job is generally there to put money in your pocket. A career is a series of jobs, each building on your experiences and learning, as you progress through an occupation or profession that fuels you personally, and professionally, for many years – if not for your entire working life.