What’s the difference between a job and a career?
Is a job the same as a career? What is the difference, and how can you move from one to the other?
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. You may have many different jobs over the course of your working life.
A career, on the other hand, is a longer term goal. Careers often start with education, and learning a set of skills, focussing on your strengths and weaknesses. A successful career involves a number of jobs, each hopefully building on your skills and knowledge. And each acting as a stepping stone 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. For others they may be 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.
How to transition?
A simple strategy as you think about starting your career is to do a self-assessment to reflect on your strengths, weaknesses, interests and passions. The CareerHQ Compass can help you assess your fit with prospective careers. What would you like to do that you enjoy? What do you want to achieve? It’s all down to your own goals 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’s down to you to make it a success. Set yourself some short term and long term goals. Think about the career in smaller steps that are realistic and eventually you can work towards your ultimate goal.
If, like many people we see between 26 and 34 years of age, you want to move from working in a job(s) to pursuing a career, a well considered plan is a vital starting point. Even if you select and pursue a career path, today’s rapidly changing world means that most people will have several careers over their working life. That is not a reason to eliminate a career path or something to be feared. Instead, it makes it more important to be comfortable with the process of reviewing your career options, skills and interests.
If you are still a student, a short term goal might be to find an entry-level position or traineeship in an industry that you’re interested in, which would allow you to get a feel of what that industry is like.
Risks and rewards
Once you start thinking about your career as a longer term objective, it becomes easier to think about each step you take. The decisions you make should all be part of your longer term career plan.
Thinking critically about your career steps can help avoid career mistakes. You may also end up taking more calculated risks, rather than taking the obvious or easy route. Calculated risks can lead to success through greater fulfilment and career success.
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.