What’s the Difference: Do You Have a Job or a Career?


January 11, 2015

www.flazingo.comI was thinking today about the difference between my job and my career.  Many people 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 an effort I embark on with three other people in the industry.   I admire  them (Ben EubanksSteve Boese, and Matt Stollak) 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.

I also co-host HR Happy Hour with Steve Boese, helped write a book with my HRevolutionize team (not published yet but awaiting finishing touches), partner with smart women like Jenny Payne on Women of HR, and constantly come up with new ideas with the likes of Bill Boorman, Paul Hebert, Victorio Milian, Lisa Rosendahl, Robin Schooling and Mike Vandervort.  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 in the comments….


  • Trish,

    No, you’re not crazy at all. You’re smart to see both the micro (“job”) and the macro (“career”). And, as I read this list of highly dedicated and influential HR colleagues (many of whom you probably wouldn’t know if it weren’t for your unpaid work), I’m reminded of why it’s so important to do more than your “job”.

    Wishing you the best for 2015!

  • It would be crazy to think that a job and a career are the same. A job is a singular choice one makes. A career is so much more, its the sum total of several paths one takes/could take in life. It’s also what lies as the end objective of both. A job can earn you a paycheck, but a well-planned career can earn you a lot more.

  • I agree with you Trish. A career is sure to fizzle out without having a mission and passion and thinking about it outside of just completing assignments. A career defines you. A job is something that just pays the bills.

Comments are closed.

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About Trish

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


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