What’s The Difference Between A Job And A Career?

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Do you want to know the difference between a job and a career? Here’s my take on the matter. 

Often times a job and a career are used in the same sentence, but they actually are very different. 

What Is The Difference Between A Job And A Career?

To get this out of the way first, what is a job and what is a career?

A job is something you do to earn money. Often times, the work doesn’t interest you and you don’t care about making steps forward. A career is a series of job opportunities. You build up skills that make you more valuable at work and make sure that you get higher pay over time.

In a couple of years, you’ll probably still do the same job. With a job, you just want some quick cash. With a career, you aim for higher opportunities over time. In a couple of years, you’ll do something similar but with more responsibilities and opportunities. 

With a career, you can use your experience going forward in other opportunities. You can network with your colleagues because in a couple of years you’ll still be in the same field. 

What's The Difference Between A Job And A Career

Why You Should Always Do Your Best

Even though there is this distinction between a job and a career, it is important to me that I always do my best. 

Why?

Well I didn’t do my best at a job and it did not turn out the way I wanted it to.

While in university I was working a reception job. Just sitting at the reception desk 2 days a week, quite an easy job. I chatted with a lot of people, what else is there to do when you sit at a reception desk right?

I never asked for extra to-dos or extra tasks, I was just having a good time and doing my job.

My colleague, on the other hand, was really helping the secretary at times. Just by doing small tasks like printing and administrative tasks. She was also helping other people in the department and was very proactive.

A couple of months later, a couple of positions opened up where you were offered double the pay to coordinate some events at the university. Because she had always done something extra for the people in the department, people knew she was going to do a great job. Eventually, she got the position. Because I didn’t have ‘a great track record’, as they put it, I didn’t get the position. 

This happened over 5 years ago.

Since that day, I am convinced that always doing your best pays off. It may be in an indirect, unexpected way. It will pay off. 

Climbing The Ladder

When I started working my first full-time job, I decided to give it my all. In the first couple of months, I was getting used to the whole working thing. After that, I was really happy to notice that it was easy for me to ask for things and get them done. 

It made my manager happy, it made my job more interesting, and I learned a lot from it. 

In hindsight, I believe this is the true reason that they promoted me after 9 months of working. This promotion usually takes about two years, so I was extremely happy. Almost 30% pay rise is not something you get every day. 

This showed me the value of putting in the work when you want to get ahead. It also showed me that your career is your greatest asset if you try and get the most out of it.

What's The Difference Between A Job And A Career

3 Things To Take From This

There have been some jobs that I’ve tried to do my best, some jobs that I didn’t care about, and some jobs that have taught me a lot.

There are the three things that I learned.

You Always Learn

Whatever job you’re currently working. You always learn from it. 

I learned from my job at the bakery how to be friendly to customers and sell people no.

I learned from my job at university how to work in a huge bureaucratic organization and build connections at the same time.

I learned from my job at the supermarket how to deal with stress – especially around days like Christmas and Easter. 

I learned from my financial consulting job how much I love spreadsheets and how to manage them efficiently.  

I expect to learn new things with every job I do. You never know when you will need them.  

Every Job Can Impact Your Career

Now let’s take a story from my partner. He started giving swimming lessons as a side job when he was studying. He worked there for two years when they promoted him to be a middle manager, leading 25 people at the swimming pool. He did that for another four years while he got his psychology degree. 

After he graduated and started to look for jobs, he noticed the headquarters of his previous employer had an open position for HR advisor. This could be his perfect opportunity!

Just because he did his best in the years he worked at the swimming pool, people knew him and knew that he was doing a good job. He is hired mostly beccause people they know talk highly about him and he has a great track record. 

What I take from this, is that every job can impact your career. Even though you don’t think it’s possible or they seem highly unrelated, you never know when paths may cross again.

Don’t Give It Your Everything

To make my point clear – I’m not telling you to give every job your everything. That’s how people get burned out. 

I’m telling you that you should do more than the minimum expected of you. Be positive in everything that you do and show the eagerness to learn. 

See the relevance in your job and make the most of it. Have fun with your coworkers. Help people that need it. 

Doing the minimum makes your job boring. 

Most importantly:

Balance your work and your life. Have fun outside work. Close your laptop at 5 pm. 

You can do all of it.

I strongly believe that when you have a fulfilling life outside of work, this allows you to do your job better. 

All In All

There is a difference between a job and a career. If you want to advance in this field, people generally call it a career. 

That doesn’t mean that your jobs are useless. They always teach you something and you will get more from it than expected when you do your best. 

Every single job that you have can impact your career in a significant, unexpected way. Build up job skills and benefit from them later. When you do your best, it will make your work more fun and challenging. 

BUT, never stick around with a shitty job. They’re not worth it and you deserve better than that.

What is your experience with a job versus a career?

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What's The Difference Between A Job And A Career

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2 thoughts on “What’s The Difference Between A Job And A Career?”

  1. Great post. I had some interesting experiences with jobs vs my career. At one point my job was a life guard for a few years. Definitely taught me how to deal with difficult people. I guess we all have some weird “job” stories.

    Cheers!

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