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Job vs Career


Job vs Career

A job is just a paid position of employment, and it becomes a career when the person decides to pursue it for a significant period of their life. You might then simply say that the difference between a job and a career is the decision to “commit” to it. This is factually true.

It is easy to search online for information discussing the differences between a “job” and “career.” While information varies slightly from expert to expert, the one constant is that you decide whether what you are doing is a “job” or a “career.” Experts, books, websites, and educators agree that the real difference between a job and a career is your attitude and decision about your commitment to the activity.

Some mistakenly think that working at a fast-food restaurant is just a “job.” It is only a job if the person working there decides it is a job. For those that have decided to pursue this as a career, they will spend their lives learning how to do each task in the restaurant as expertly as possible. They will learn how to help others get good at the tasks and jobs in the restaurant.

They may decide to go into leadership. They may not. Either way, they decide to embrace the company’s values and align their attitudes with the company. They defend their organization and the people in it because they have decided they are committed to the success of the group. They don’t make fun of their restaurant or the people at work – why would you drag down the very ship you have committed to sailing on? They know that if the company or their teammates fail, they too fail. They are committed. This is just as true for working at a fast-food restaurant as it is true for being a doctor at a hospital. The details of the job are not important. Your decision and attitude are important.

There is nothing “wrong” or “bad” about a job. A job is a “mindset” about a work activity. A job is paid employment. A job may have minimal impact on your future work life. A job may be something you do to simply make money as you figure out how to start your career. A job may not feel very important but only because you have decided it is not very important to you. You probably don’t want to spend a lot of time learning or investing in your job because you know that it is temporary or doesn’t align with what you want to be your long-term career. It’s just a paycheck. Most of the time, you don’t feel “invested” in the company or team you are working with. Often you are more interested in what’s in it for you than thinking about how you can help the team.

Treating work as a career is not a “better” decision. It is simply a different decision. It is a decision to pursue a long-term occupation. A career is something you decide to get good at — to become an expert in the area. A career feels important because you decide it is important. It is much more to you than a “paycheck” or paid employment. You seek out and find ways to increase your experience and learning for your future. You want to see everyone do well in the company and you have decided that your future is tied to the success of the company and those you work with. You make an effort to help everyone around you because your success depends on their success. You see that this group succeeds or fails together. You don’t harm the company by gossiping, creating cliques, or making fun of others. You do all you can to maintain a safe working environment where things get done for the benefit of all.

The company you work for has a purpose and values that you align with. You don’t feel that you have lost individuality by embracing your company’s values, but instead, you want to contribute to seeing these values carried forward. You admire and embrace these values as important to you. You decide that it is more important to do what is best for the team than “being right” or “getting your way.” It feels like you are part of a team. This is because you have decided to be part of a team. And that is the main difference between a job and a career.

As a leader it is your job, partly, to build your team and create an environment where each member of that team truly wants to be a part of the game that you’re playing together. Each member should feel like they’re contributing to the goals of the group — and taking the time to include everyone by giving your attention to each member and encouraging them and inspiring their commitment to the team — that’s a major step in creating a culture of inclusiveness and a winning team.