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Do you want a JOB or a CAREER?

Updated: Aug 7, 2023

It happens a bit by stealth.

Most likely you got some little jobs when you were in your teens. Washing the car. Working in a shop. Working on a market stall.

You go to university. You roll into your first 'real' job. You start working. You learn how to work in a professional environment. You get promoted, get another job.

And then - a few years in - you start to realise that you're finding yourself in a proper career.

I never gave that much thought to my first career.

When I came out of university jobs were hard to come by. I didn't really know what I wanted to do anyway. I had done a degree which 'kept my options open'. Meaning that if you didn't have a clue about what you wanted to do, you were none the wiser after you finished it.

I got a temp job. Working in a local council. Looking after council properties.

It was where my first interest in property and real estate came from.

I stayed in real estate for 10 years. Would still be there now if I hadn't moved to the UK.

It's made me think about the difference between careers and jobs.

When does a job become a career?

At what point do you decide that you want to turn your job into a career?

Do you decide at all?

I once spoke to a woman. She had worked in a bank from the moment she left school. In her words she 'had done some courses'. And when she left her boss was VERY upset.

You see, she had not 'invested' in her career. She had just done her job, done 'some courses' and became invaluable to the people she worked with.

She only realised her worth when she left.

She had - inadvertently - created a career, instead of just having a job.

Now YOU might find that you have 'done your time'. You've invested in your career. You learned about it, gained lots of experience, were becoming more and more valuable to your company.

And yet.

It's not where you are invested (any more).

Making the opposite movement can be difficult.

Going from a career to a job somehow feels like you're giving something up:

  • Because - after all - your career has been part of your identify for such a long time.

  • Because - if you step away - all that effort and time and money you've invested is wasted.*

  • Because a 'job' doesn't sound the same as a 'career'. And we've been taught that is't better to have a career than a job, right?

So, let me ask you this question:

If your basic needs were taken care of, would you still be doing what you're doing?

Would you be pushing forward? Climbing up the ladder? Learning everything about it? Investing all your time, money and effort?

If you indulge for a moment, and think about where your ambitions REALLY lie, are you investing your time in the right way?

Is a CAREER all it's cracked up to be? Is a CAREER right for you now?

Or is it a ('good enough') job that will help you do all the other things you want to do?

Should we start thinking about careers and jobs in a completely different way?

With so much (economic, political, societal) change is it time to re-evaluate what YOU want out of work?


Tineke Tammes is an ICF credentialed Career Coach, who supports professional women in making successful transitions to careers of Freedom, Flexibility and Fulfilment! Besides that she is also a lifelong feminist, part-time portrait artist, never-only-read-one-book-at-any-time reader, and obsessive doodler. Oh, and she knows a bit about change management too.

This blog appeared as a newsletter first on 28 October 2022.

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