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Career Planning

What's the difference between a job and a career?

December 2, 2021

Career planning is often centered around finding a way to that one perfect job. What can be easy to forget is that there’s more to a career than figuring out how to get that one forever job.

Career planning is often centered around finding a way to that perfect job. What can be easy to forget is that there’s more to a career than figuring out how to get that one forever job. Perhaps you’ve already been using the JobBank.gc.ca career planning tool to look up the area of study associated with your dream job. Maybe you’ve noticed that only a low percentage of graduates of a program end up in a role you’d expect them to be employed in. Have no fear! That is not only a natural part of the career process but one to always keep in mind.

Before we get any further, let’s break down what exactly is the difference between a job and a career. A job is a paid position of employment. Think of each job as a stop on the journey of life. A career is one’s advancement through life and a field of work. A career is like the thread or pathway that connects all of one’s jobs and experience together.

Roadmap image with text 'Defining Career and Jobs'

With that being said, we can dispel the myth of what a job and career are NOT. Sometimes the idea can be conjured of jobs and careers as opposition to each other, where a job is an unfavourable form of employment and a career is simply a job that is higher up in a workplace. The truth is people change jobs all the time, even people who are considered to be well into their career with comfortable jobs. Switching up a job or responsibilities can happen within an organization, or can be a hop to a completely different field. Either way, taking on new jobs is a way of broadening a career by opening up new pathways.

Try browsing through our career profiles and see how many individuals had a straightforward path to their current job. While it is possible to follow a relatively steady path, the vast majority of careers end up having unexpected twists and turns. Sometimes the job where someone lands will be completely different than what they had initially planned. The experiences that allow us to grow often end up putting us in a better fitting place than we had initially envisioned.

Meeting someone who has stayed at the same job from getting out of school to retirement is like finding a 7 leaf clover or a winning lottery ticket.

Worries about maintaining an ideal career path are misspent. Seldom does a person ever have one job in their careers. All jobs are opportunities to pick up and sharpen transferable skills. A job that can seem irrelevant to one’s long-term interests has the power to open up new forks on a career path later down the road.

Know the difference but still anxious about building the perfect career? The starting line was the moment you opened this article and the finish is a lifetime away. Get filling that career with your interests and talents!

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