Sometimes people talk about their career. Sometimes they talk about their job. In too many cases people mix the two up. In other cases they talk about careers without talking jobs and jobs without talking careers. In all cases people are missing the big picture about jobs and careers.
Jobs are not careers. Careers are not jobs. Understanding how they're different – and how they're related – is key to your success.
- Jobs are things you do for money or other benefits (such as experience or connections or as it fulfills a goal).
- Jobs may or may not have anything to do with your larger goals in life.
- When a job ends it is over.
- Jobs may or may not relate to your identity.
- Careers are directions for one's life and how one defines what they do.
- A career does not necessarily relate to money or profit – housewife or househusband is as much a career as "game developer" is a career.
- Careers are usually directed by the jobs we have – but also by the education we get, the networking we do, and so on.
- Careers do not necessarily end when jobs end.
- Careers do relate to your identity – or at least should for the maximum enjoyment of life.
To put it simply, career is direction, and a major component of it is the jobs you have. You can't have a career without doing something (unless your career is "goof-off" I suppose), and that something is a job. The jobs let us manifest our skills, achieve goals, and put the career into action.
If you focus on jobs only, you may not be able to build a career, or even put enough thought into developing one. With no career direction, you have no plan, and can't improve or grow – let alone survive. Careers focus you so you can get – or build up to – jobs that help it happen as well as pay the bills.
If you focus only on career and not how it comes into being, you'll be stuck in the abstract and won't be making it real. You won't get the jobs you need to move forward with your life and make your career real. You won't get the training you need to make your career manifest. You make your career real through the jobs you do and how you prepare for them. Without that acknowledgment careers are just dreams – and just as real.
So remember to focus on both sides of your professional life. Otherwise you miss the big picture or the small picture – and either way your life will be incomplete.
– Steven Savage