Are You Seeking a Career or a Job?

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Seeking a Job vs. Seeking a Career

A few days ago I posted the following on LinkedIn and Twitter:

Some people confuse a job as being part of their career, but I disagree.

After watching Elizabeth Gilbert break down the difference between a career, job, hobby, and vocation, it all became more clear for me.

Here’s the video I’m talking about. It’s about 10 minutes long, but well worth the time:

A job is something you need to pay the bills. You don’t have to love it. You don’t have to be passionate about it.

It’s perfectly OK to be looking for or to need a job. All of us have been in this position. Sometimes roles we took up with the intention that it would be a strategic step in building our career turn into jobs.

Companies also know if the roles they have open will help someone’s career or are merely a job that needs to be done, and they’re willing to pay for it to be done with no expectation that someone will love doing it.

But there are a lot of companies who have open roles that are intended to help someone grow and, ideally, gain the necessary skills and experience to be able to move into more prominent positions within the company.

They aren’t interested in finding people who are just looking for a job.

The mismatch happens if you apply to roles designed for this latter reason, but you’re merely looking for a job. Probably a common thing during a period of mass layoffs, as we’ve seen during the COVID pandemic.

If you need a job, look for a job. If you are looking for the next strategic step in your career, you’ll likely be more curious about the companies and roles you’re applying to.

You’ll probably already have a list of companies who meet whatever criteria are important to you in the next step of your career. You’ve possibly also intentionally applied to their open roles that match your experience, skills, and will enhance your career.

When that’s the case, your curiosity and interest will lead to exploring the company’s website, checking out their presence on social media to get a feel for how they work, what they value, and what the environment would be.

This is evident when recruiters and hiring managers talk with candidates because this digging will inevitably lead to questions that they’ll ask during the interview.

If a recruiter or hiring manager asks, “what would you like to know about the company or role?” or “what questions do you have for me?” and they’re met with silence, it’s pretty clear you applied to the role because you’re looking for a job, not the next step in your career.

So, the next time you apply to an open role, think, “what happens if I get an interview?” or, even better, “what would happen if I got an offer?” Would you take it? Are you just looking for validation and a way to build your confidence by people showing an interest in you? Or are you really looking for a job?

Would answering ‘yes’ to any of those questions affect your decision to apply?


Photo by Brendan Church on Unsplash