Job v/s Career: Key differences that will help you plan your professional growth

Career Advice
21 Oct 2022

Try thinking of the generic terms associated with having a job? Monotonous, stable, steady, or even salary can be among the common ones. On the flip side, let’s try the same drill with words linked to having a career. Illustrious, celebrated, successful are among the few adjectives that are likely to be used than compared to one’s tragic career (rarely heard of).

The associated key words are a huge indicator of the fundamental differences between having a job v/s pursuing a career. While a job is mostly about doing routine tasks for a predetermined sum of money, a career is related to doing jobs that align with one’s value system and purpose.

Often understanding the key differences between the two can aid employees to plan their personal growth and work trajectories better.

#1. Difference in definitions

The Oxford Dictionary defines the word job as ‘a paid position of regular employment’ whereas, career is ‘an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person's life and with opportunities for progress’.

The distinctive phrases in the latter definition, ‘significant period’ and ‘progress’ speak much about the nature of work one does to pursue a meaningful career. It is mostly long-term and involves learning that considerably influences your future goals.

Pursuing a career is related to holding a series of well-connected occupations. That is how it has substantial impact on an employee’s professional development. This can in terms of skill, monetary gains or even mentorship.

#2. Short-term v/s long-term

Regular employment or jobs involve carrying out the expected tasks without infuriating one’s supervisor. Monetary compensation is a huge part of such consistent jobs, where an employee’s goals are short-term.

He/she is more focused about meeting deadlines and adhering to company polices. Unlike career-oriented people, job-centric employees do not invest any emotional energy into their work.

On the other hand, pursuing a career is all about long-term learning, building relationships and gaining credible, industry-specific knowledge.

 #3. Paycheck v/s Passion

According to data collated by Pew Research Centre, three in every ten American workers view the work they do as ‘just a job to get them by’. These 30 percent people do not consider the work they do as steppingstone to a career.

Such figures indicate how a majority of those holding regular jobs could be at the risk of being disengaged with their work. Most of the times, earning a fat paycheck at the end of every month is what makes jobs exciting for employees.

Alternatively, career is about taking calculative risks and coming up with path-breaking ideas. Hence, as the unknown goes, “passion is the difference between having a job and building a career”.

#4. Experience v/s capacity building

Many experts associate the process of pursuing a career to be a regular resume building exercise. This involves gaining expertise and expanding your skill set. Moreover, it provides numerous opportunities to build healthy professional relationships with highly influential industry leaders.

But regular jobs rarely come with such bandwidth. Because, they are mostly characterized by limited networking and capacity-building prospects. Consequently, jobs are less likely to impact long-term professional progression.

#5. Job v/s career: Destination v/s journey

Another key difference between job and career is that jobs need not necessarily align with a person’s education levels, interests and beliefs.

However, pursuing a career means holding a series of those jobs that add purpose and value to one’s work life. Hence, a career presents an employee with high-level responsibilities and call for him/her to make thoughtful decisions.

Drawing an analogy, we can say a successful career is a journey that passes through many significant, correlated destinations (jobs).

“The difference between a job and a career is the difference between forty and sixty hours a week,” said Robert Frost. The apparent choice is what makes or breaks one’s career.

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