Are you on the hunt for a career or a job? There’s a couple of assumptions here; a) there’s a difference and b) you know the difference.
A career involves employment in a specific field over a period of time, during which you apply the education you’ve achieved. A job on the other hand, is typically shorter-term in nature, undertaken with a goal of gaining experience or money. A job does not always make use of one’s education.
Hang on. Do you buy those two distinctions? Is it as simple as I’ve set it out? If someone walked into a store and applied for a Cashier position, we might say they have a job as a Cashier. It’s not likely we’d agree the person is a career Cashier. However, what if we were to check in with them 9 years later and they are still in the same role? Would we then say the person is working in Retail as a Cashier and has a career? So then does the length of time a person works in a job transform the job into a career?
I don’t know that it really much matters to be honest. Oh I suppose when you’re out at some swanky affair and people invariably ask what you do, it might have social advantages to have a career over a job; well to some at any rate. But both careers and jobs have similarities. Both provide income, both can be rewarding to the people in them, and both can lead to promotions and be of varying length. There is no guarantee that a career will last longer than a job.
That last comment about the length of time one invests in a role might have some in disagreement. Suppose you graduate from University with a degree and take a position with an organization. You were specifically hired in part due to your academic qualifications. I think it fair to say most folks would feel you’ve just launched your career. Said this way, you are at the beginning of your full-time work life and yet, many would also say you’ve landed a full-time job. Perhaps then they are interchangable.
But hold on. Suppose you quit high school in order to take a position with the local lumberyard doing yard clean up and helping customers load their purchases. Again, most folks will say you’ve got yourself a job, but how many would say you’ve just launched your career? Fewer I imagine than the example in the previous paragraph. And yet, if you advanced through the business from yard clean up to Foreman, then moved inside to Sales Representative working with Contractors based on your accumulated experience, then were promoted to head up the Construction and Renovation Sales division, would we then say you’ve carved out a career for yourself? Would people say your’e a career lumber guy or woman?
I’ll tell you this; there are a lot of people holding out for some career to provide them with direction when what they really need is a job. Likewise, there are people searching right now for jobs who would be well-advised to pour their energy into pursuing their careers.
You might think at this point I’m only messing with words and confusing you for the sake of my own amusement. In truth however, there are people – many people – who fret and worry feeling immense pressure to pick a career. Likewise there are people who feel incredible pressue to get a job.
What really distinguishes the two to my way of thinking is how a person perceives them based on their own value system. Let’s make that personal. If YOU hold a career as being more prestigeous and look at jobs as holding less worth, then YOU set yourself up to feel inadequate and underachieving unless YOU are in a career. Then throw in the happiness factor, the I-need-a-career-that-fulfills-me factor and you’ve set yourself up for a high-stress period while you search for a career that will fulfill you and bring you happiness.
But there’s work to be done out there people and the truth is we need people in jobs and careers in order to get it done. Working in the trades as a Plumber, Electrician, HVAC Technician, Carpenter etc. takes job-specific skills and some aquired knowledge to become an expert. Try telling the Electrician she or he holds a job but not a career and I think they’ll beg to differ. Again, it’s about perception.
You likely hold up certain professions as loftier and holding greater value over others. How do you view a Lawyer vs. a Roofer, a Mechanic vs. a Receptionsit, a Truck Driver vs. an Architect? I’ll tell you this; your view may change depending on your need for that individual. When your shingles blow off your roof, you want a career professional up there fixing it, not someone who ‘just’ holds a job.
Think about your own perception of jobs vs. careers and think also about how your values are passed on to those you influence most; your children. While it’s natural to have your own value system, it’s incumbant upon us all to equally respect the values of others, especially if they differ from our own. If we do this, a lot of people would feel less pressure to pick a career, less stigma when considering a job.