Your Job vs. Your Career

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March 3, 2011

I was thinking today about the difference between my job and my career.  Most employees use these terms interchangably.  I don’t.  I believe my job is the employer that I chose, who chose me, to come provide a service and be paid for that service.  I think that is only one part of my career though.  Additionally, a career is not just a series of jobs.  Although for many people who do differentiate, that is the distinction they make.

I believe your career is a compiliation of all the work you do.  Your career is the totality of how you use all the skills you acquire to bring value to your job as well as the other organizations you participate in.  That includes your paid and unpaid work.

The list is long…

  • Volunteering at an organization
  • Working on PTA or PTO
  • Being a scout leader
  • Being a coach for children
  • Leading efforts for your church
  • Writing
  • Speaking

We choose who we work with.

There are many times I meet someone and think of numerous ways we can work together.  Take HRevolution for example.  This is a volunteer effort I embark on with three other people in the industry.   I admire  them (Ben Eubanks, Steve Boese, and Crystal Peterson) more than any people I’ve met.  We CHOOSE to work together. We do it because we have a shared mission, a shared passion, and a shared devotion to each other.  Then, we weave many other people into the fabric and work with them to make the event possible.  It may not be a paid job, but it is a skill building effort and helps my career.  To me, it’s experiences like these that make my career so much richer.  It’s these experiences that make me better at my J-O-B.

So, am I crazy?  Is there a difference?  Tell me what you think….

3 Comments

  • I don’t paint my career with as broad of a brush as you do in your case. I don’t think it’s wrong, it’s just not how I define “career”. But I have had several careers: I have a music career, a hairdressing career, a sporting career, and I even had a sales career. My sporting career ended most bitterly by injury. My sales career was short, but could resume sooner than later. My music career is still going, even if it’s in a bit of stasis at the moment. My hairdressing career could be in it’s twilight if my health doesn’t improve; frankly the end could be near.

    I define a career as a body of work, and a job as what stop I have made in my career. Now, it could encompass an ENTIRE body of work, which could be painted in as broad of a stroke as you have. So maybe you ARE right about your definition. Okay- I take back the first sentence!!!! I do tend to compartmentalise everything, after all…

  • I agree. Also I think of a career as having an innate time element (not just today but 5 years, 10 years… from now). You can build skills for a career that are unrelated to your current job.

  • Trish, you have touched a part of my thinking that may refocus how I talk about the career v. job discussion. When I gave counsel to my kids about growing up and moving out, I emphasized that they should look for a career and not just a job. Every good parent wants to develop the talents and skills of their children into a successful livelihood. That probably is not the wrong focus, but looking at my own life I can see that I have evolved to a place where my “job” is only a small part of my career. This has been such a natural progression I’m not actually sure when it happened. Hopefully, that growth is still happening and I’ll be more aware of including things that really matter in my career.

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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.

HR HAPPY HOUR LIVE! TALENT ACQUISITION & ONBOARDING

THE FUTURE OF WORK

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