Career or job? or did you even know there was a difference

I often start my talks by referencing the career journey as a line. You start at school, and that time varies on whether you do post secondary, a masters or even a Ph.D. Then at some point, the expectations is that you get a job. And hopefully you turn the jobs you’ve had into a career. Many do not realize that there is a difference. The way I describe a job is something you do for a paycheck. Perhaps clocking-in at 9 and leaving at 5. Doing whatever it is you are paid to do. Then get paid appropriately. A career on the other hand is something that you enjoy doing. Something that interests and even excites you. Something that ultimately provides you meaning and purpose.  On the journey, you are inspired, then you shoot across that path quickly.

Career journey

How do I know if I’m in a job or career?

The line between a job and a career can be a little uncertain. The easiest test I have found is whether you honestly use the term TGIF – thank goodness it’s Friday then you’re probably in a job. On the other hand if you use the term CWUM – can’t wait until Monday, then you’re probably in a career.

Those in a job often dread Mondays. They dread having to wake up and get into the office at a reasonable hour to put in their work. And are often looking at the clock multiple times during the day until the time they can go home. Those with a career are full of excitement to get back to work. They fly out of bed to start making their contributions in the office or wherever they work. Now everyone has bad days and weeks, but if TGIF reigns over CWUM then you’re likely in a job.

A career is not necessarily defined by your title or your industry

One of the revelations I had was that your career isn’t necessarily your title or your industry. Being an engineer, or an accountant, or a lawyer or a marketer or whatever might be how you define yourself and your career. Or you might define your career as spending all of your time in healthcare, entertainment, finance, manufacturing, or whatever other industry you can think of.

I offer an alternative to define your career as where you add the most value. Your career in engineering, accounting. or being a lawyer might be grounded in the ability to help people overcome their obstacles. Or working in healthcare, entertainment, finance or manufacturing, you might be a gifted leader in having others follow the vision you create for the future.

Let’s say you start in retail f or 10 years. You switch into the supply chain side for another 10 years. Move into a management role for another 10 years. Then decide to help a non-profit for the last 10 before calling it quits. This example is with switches into different areas is is much more relevant in today’s day and age. Many are expecting to change jobs even upwards of 10 times over the course of the time when they are working. And finding the underlying theme of all those jobs helps to determine makes sense of a career for those frequent job switchers.

How do I turn my job into a career?

Now that is the million dollar question. The short answer is that you might not be able to. You might have to come to grips that the job you have might not be a place for you to find fulfillment. If you were to try, I recommend for you to spend time reflecting on your work day. Determine what did you enjoy doing, what gave you purpose and fulfillment? versus what drained you, what seemed meaningless? And you reflect and record the specific context then you should try to navigate to do more of what you enjoy and less of what drains you. That might mean switching jobs, switching companies and almost always requires switching perspectives. And what you might also decide is to go to work with the perspective of: how do I get the most out of this day?

As you continue to reflect and start understanding what you enjoy doing, and what you are good at doing then you need to see whether you can find the intersection with what you could get paid to do, plus what the world needs. Not an easy feat at all. However, if you can manage to do so (mostly by really being honest with yourself), then an amazing career can be waiting for you!

You might not need a career

It is also worth noting that some people may not have the luxury to find a career. If you are living paycheck to paycheck, having to care for a sick parent or child, or have other restricting commitments, a job might be the best you can do. You might make the choice to get your purpose and fulfillment outside of working hours. And coming to grips with that reality can also be a challenge.

We will explore:

as other components of what we call the career guidance system as a meta model for careers.

So make choice on whether you want to find a job or find a career!


ABOUT FOCUS inspired

We are career catalysts looking to initiate the reactions that would not have otherwise happened towards your career success. “Personal trainers for your career” helping you turn knowledge into results!