Jobs, Careers and Finding Your Professional Path

Ange Connor

“I want to find a career, not just a job.” What does this actually mean? What’s the difference between a job and a career? If you google the difference between a job and a career, you’ll get plenty of advice on the difference. The consensus seems to be that a career has progression, it’s taking you somewhere, and a job is something you are simply doing for the money.

Throughout my working life, I’ve had careers and I’ve had jobs, and sometimes those jobs have become careers even though when I started in them, I thought they were just a job. My first jobs as a teenager were simply that, jobs to get me into the workforce, jobs to help me earn some money to save for a car for when I turned 18 and to get me some work/life experience. While they provided wonderful experience in the workforce and allowed me to save money, they were just a job and I didn’t see them as jobs that I would stay in post finishing secondary school.

My first real job was the start of my first career. I say my first career, as in today’s world having multiple careers is common. I started out in real estate as a receptionist on a traineeship. This job in the real estate industry was going to be my career. And it was very much a career, as I worked my way through various roles, progressing my career into more senior positions over a period of about six years. However, that career eventually turned into feeling like just a job, and that was when I knew it was time to move on and look for a new career.  My second career (recruitment and HR) started out as a job, I thought it was going to be a short-term temp job until I found my next career. At that stage, I had no idea what kind of career I was looking for and I accidentally fell into the recruitment and HR industry as so many in the field do.

Reflecting on my own job and career journey, it highlights to me that jobs can become careers, and careers can quickly become just jobs without us even realising it at the time. It’s not until we wake up one day thinking, I want more or I want something different that we realise we are simply doing a job and have lost sight of our career.

For me, there is more to the difference between a job, which you simply do for money and a career which takes you somewhere. I think it’s also very much about doing meaningful work and having your needs met as an employee. A career might not be taking you on a journey as such, but if you feel like you are doing meaningful work, making a difference, getting job satisfaction, and having the things that are important to you in a job such as workplace flexibility, a great team culture, autonomy in your work then you do have a career. However, when we don’t feel like what we do makes a difference or contributes to the bigger picture, where we don’t feel valued for who we are and what we do, and our needs as an employee aren’t being met, then we feel like we are in a job and simply going to work for the money. This is why we can be in a career and it can still evolve into feeling like just a job because we lose the meaningfulness. This was exactly what happened to me with my real estate career. And this is why we can start out in a job that we think is just for the money until something better comes along, only to find we have accidentally stumbled upon our next career.

My advice if you are searching for a career, not just a job:

Stop looking for a career. When we are searching for a career through that lens, it often becomes overwhelming and it feels like the pressure is building to find that prized career. Instead, look for meaningful work, work that will give you enjoyment and satisfaction, that allows you to play to your strengths and use the skills you have while allowing the development of new skills. Invest time in understanding what meaningful work actually looks and feels like for you. Reflect on what you are not getting in your current ‘job’ to help you identify what’s missing. In our career coaching sessions, people initially respond to this question with ‘there is no career path’, yet, when we unpack what that means, it doesn’t necessarily mean promotion into the next level position and that there are multiple levels above to be promoted to. Often it means there is no room for learning new skills, being challenged, or being able to have more input. Those kinds of opportunities don’t necessarily have to come with a higher level role, while for others, career progression is all about the title and salary increase.

When we have clarity over what meaningful work looks like and what’s important to us in the workplace, we have a much greater chance of finding that career we are searching for.

About The Author
Ange Connor

Ange is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource (HR) and careers agencies. Ange is an ‘ideas’ person and a ‘big picture’ thinker. She loves to challenge the status quo – in fact, that’s how Inspire HQ began.

Ange has supported hundreds of businesses across Ballarat and regional Victoria to attract, engage, motivate, develop and retain their greatest assets; their people. Ange’s unyielding passion and invaluable knowledge of the recruitment and HR industry ensures she delivers the best solutions for her clients.

Ange has held various board positions and regularly volunteers her time to share her industry and market knowledge. She was recently a Councillor for the Victoria and Tasmania region of the Recruitment Consulting and Staffing Association (RCSA) of Australia and New Zealand, and she is a current Board Director of the Committee for Ballarat.

For more useful information, follow Ange on LinkedIn.

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