Do You Have a Career or Just a Job? | Why You Want a Career

Why is a career important? It’s almost as if you spend most of your life doing it! Better make sure you’re building a career that’s meaningful, working towards goals that matter and starting a career that allows you to grow as a person.

In this video, Angela Guido, former recruiter and career coach talks about how to know if you have a career or is you just have a job and why you’ll live a far more meaningful life if you make up your mind to turn that job into a career. She also tells you how you where to start to begin taking your career into your own hands

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Prefer to read? Here’s the transcript:

What’s The Difference Between A Career & A Job?

Do you have a career? Or do you just have a job? Today I'm going to help you answer that question. My name is Angela Guido. I'm the founder of Career Protocol, a former Recruiter from the Boston Consulting Group, a former Management Consultant and a former HR Manager at KPMG, and a nearly lifelong Career and MBA Coach. I am here to help you make Mondays better. Absolutely everyone in this world has a job, but not everyone who has a job has a career. The question is, what's the difference between just having a job and having a career? It's a really important question to answer if you want to find fulfillment and joy in your work life. So let me start by talking about what a job is. Actually, let me take an even further step back and talk about tasks. Tasks are stuff that we do. It's stuff like doing the dishes, doing the laundry, building a spreadsheet, making a PowerPoint, attending a meeting, giving a presentation, forming an opinion. These are all tasks. Our day-to-day lives are full of tasks, personal and professional, and your job is full of tasks. So there's a difference between a job and a task. A task is just a discrete thing, it has a beginning and an end, and a job — now we're getting to the definition of a job — is a collection of tasks that you do in exchange for money. Very simply, if you go to the internet and you're going to find a job, you're going to look at the job descriptions that are out there. You find the companies that you like, you see their job postings, and you read the lengthy list of tasks that they're going to ask you to do in that job. So a job is a collection of tasks that you do in order to pay your bills or in order to build wealth or in order to collect energy in the form of money. When we talk about having to work, most of what we're talking about is having to do our job. The job doesn't really belong to us. It belongs to the company that's paying us to do the job and this is a really big distinguishing factor between a job and a career. A job is something you do for someone else so that they will pay you money at the end of the day or the end of the month. A career is something you do for yourself.

I want to talk a little bit, let me unpack that comment. It may seem counterintuitive to believe that your career is for yourself. As you may know, I'm a former philosopher. I studied philosophy at university and so one of the questions that I am continually asking in my life and encouraging my clients to ask in their lives is what is the meaning? What is the meaning of life? What is the meaning of your life, of our lives, of our collective existence as human beings? And one of the answers that frequently emerges when we ask about the meaning of life is a sense of purpose. A desire to make some contribution to this world, to at least one other person and ideally, to many more. We all have a kind of sense of purpose to fulfill in this life and many of us are doing that through our work. The work that we do is not merely a transaction so that we can have our life outside of work and cover our expenses. It's also a source of meaning and purpose in our own lives. We're all growing and learning and becoming who it is that we're meant to be and, for a lot of us, that's happening at work. And that's the differentiator between a career and a job. Your career is not just a set of tasks that you're doing day to day. It's a track record that you're building over the course of your life through which you are fulfilling your own sense of potential. So let me give you three questions to ask yourself to differentiate between having a career and having a job.

1. Are You Building Something That’s Meaningful To You?

Question number one are you building something that's meaningful to you through your work? This could be any number of things. It could relate to the product of your work. Maybe you're building a product, maybe you're building a team, maybe you're building a culture or an organization. But it could also relate to something inside. Maybe you're building skills, experiences, knowledge. Maybe you're building expertise and mastery in something that's interesting and meaningful to you. Regardless of what your answer to that question is, look and see if you can discern all the things that you're building through your work. I actually recommend that you get out a piece of paper and make a list. What are the things that you're building through your work?

2. Self-centred Development

The second differentiator of people who have careers versus people who have a job is that they are self-centered in their own growth and development. They're knowledge-greedy. They use the job in front of them to learn and grow as people and as individuals so that every step they take thereafter they have greater capacity, greater abilities, greater confidence and more to contribute in whatever the next job that presents itself is. So the next question to ask yourself is how are you growing in your work? What are you learning? What are you building in terms of your skills and abilities? A really good thing to do would be to take a skills inventory, to just sit there and write down all the things that you've learned to do through your work and all the ways that you've developed yourself as a professional and a person.

3. Going Beyond Your Mandate

The third differentiator of having a career versus having a job is that you go beyond. There is a famous quote by someone I am not going to remember who says “The success of your career is directly proportionate to what you do after you complete the tasks that are assigned to you.” (Morgan “Einstein Lennon”). It's what you do beyond what's expected of you? Where do you give yourself a little bit more? Where do you invest a little more time and effort? Where do you take initiative to go beyond the obvious and what someone else told you to do to find a way to make a contribution? This is a really important one, because if you have a career, you're not just doing it for the paycheck and you're not even really just doing it for the company, you're doing it for yourself. You're looking for creative ways to express yourself, to contribute, to add value, and you're building this track record over time of ways in which you've made a mark. So now make a list. What are all the things that you're doing in your work today, right now, that go beyond what you've been told to do and what's in your job description if you had even one or two items on any one of those lists, the good news is you have a career. If you had nothing on any of those lists and you realize, wow, I'm just working for my job, I want more. I want to have a career. I want my work life to be about myself and not just about the company. Then start by choosing something you can build a way in which you want to grow and at least one thing you want to contribute beyond your mandate.

Invest In Yourself — You’re Worth It!

This is how to make Monday better. Commit to investing in yourself this next week, to advancing your personal development, your contributions along the dimensions that are meaningful and important to you, and commit to doing at least one thing this coming week that enhances your potential as a person through the work that you're doing in your job. If you do that, then you've got a career, and then the whole universe is open to you. The job that you do, the company that you work for, it's no longer just a paycheck. It's not just a transaction. It's a space within which you can grow and fulfill your potential. If you ask me, this is the only way to work. I'm the kind of person where I'm just not motivated by survival instinct or by money. There's not that much that I can do if I don't find fulfillment and joy in it. And whether you're wired that way or not, I recommend that you wire yourself that way. Make your work about you, about what you're gaining and what you're contributing. And if you do that, you're not only going to have a lot more fun at work, you're going to go a lot farther, a lot faster. So, if you have a career, or if you want one, come back next week and I'll give you another tip to Make Mondays Better.

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Picture of Angela Guido

Angela Guido

Student of Human Nature| Founder and
Chief Education Officer of Career Protocol

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