Are You Seeking a Job or a Career?

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Earning a paycheck is something most of us have to do at some point in our lives. As we decide what path we want to take to achieve that goal, many choices have to be made. For instance, do you want to hunt for a job or build a career? As you're conducting your job search, it's important to differentiate between the two because this knowledge will help get you to where you want or need to be.

Jobs can be a paycheck, or serve as a stepping stone.

A job is a position where a person goes to work to earn money to pay the bills. While some jobs will require special education or skills, many are positions people can come in at the entry level and be trained. Some employers hire people with no experience, but because they possess certain soft skills or other personal attributes, they are willing to show these applicants the ropes of the job.

Did you know the majority of workers in the United States work 10 different jobs in their lifetime? These jobs might all be related to one career path or they could be in different areas of work. Some jobs are short-term until the next opportunity comes along, others  serve as stepping stones into careers or contribute as part of ongoing  career growth. iSeek.org likens the comparison to a video game: a job is one level, the career is a commitment to achieve each level and advance to higher ones. Jobs may be a part of a career, but not necessarily.

Career involves selective steps.

A career is a journey characterized by learning, experience and growth. People typically pursue specific education, internships and/or other skills to gain entrance to a career. The path chosen may or may not be related to earnings; for most people it's passion-inspired. A person develops and works hard at his or her career over the course of time and continues to nurture it until reaching the level where he or she wants to be. Great satisfaction is often achieved from cultivating a career over one's lifetime.

Deciding which path to take.

When determining which path to take, it's important to keep in mind that tech is largely shaping the direction of many industries, affecting both jobs and careers. Many opportunities change and grow, but there are a few that become obsolete. It's a good idea while planning your route to:

  • Take an aptitude test—these can offer you a lot of insight about yourself.
  •  Check industry forecasts, especially if going the career route—you don't want to invest time, energy or money into an area of expertise that won't be needed in the not-too distant future.
  • Explore education options or see what credentials are recommended in your chosen area.
  • Talk to people working in the types of opportunities you're seeking and see what insight they have to offer.

People may start off looking for a job and end up finding a career. Or they may start a career, find it uninspiring and move in another direction. People often change as they grow, what inspires passion now may not down the road. It's a good idea to revisit a career plan frequently to make sure you're still headed in the direction you want to be going. Look to see whether or not there's room for flexibility or change in the journey—you never know if you might need it.

Finding a job focuses on short-term goals (with potential for long-term  if the right choices are made), and a career is all about planning and  following a specific path. Choices made now affect the  direction you'll be taking tomorrow. It all depends on where you want to  be.

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