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Job vs Career: What’s the Difference (And Does it Matter?)

Choosing what you want to do when you leave school can feel daunting, especially when there are so many different careers and job roles to choose from! But when it comes to career exploration there’s one important factor that’s often overlooked: the difference between a job vs a career.

Having all the right information about your career options can make the decision easier, but careful career planning and research as opposed to job-chasing could really level-up your career game.

Sounds good? In this guide, we’ll give you the run-down of everything you need to know about jobs vs careers, the main differences between the two, and tips you can use to propel your own career.

Job vs career definition

While jobs and careers are often used interchangeably, there is one big difference between the two: your investment and progression in the role. A job describes one singular position of employment, while a career paints a picture of your broader goals and experiences.

What is a career?

Careers usually span your whole working life! They relate to one particular industry you have chosen to progress in, such as Finance or Healthcare. As defined in the Cambridge dictionary, a career is “the job or series of jobs that you do during your working life”.

Your career is a culmination of your overall experiences, training and education rather than just one particular role you have worked in. Essentially, if you’re building on your skills and progress in your chosen industry you are building your career!

Student fist pumping next to laptop

What is a job?

Jobs can be part-time or full-time and describe one particular role. They are what help forge your career long term! An example of a job could be ‘high school maths teacher’ while the career could be ‘teaching’ which covers the teacher’s journey.

Main differences between a job vs a career

Hours

Jobs can be defined by specific set hours – and even paid hourly too – while a career is usually based on an annual salary and doesn’t necessarily end when the working day is done because it reflects your overall journey.

Progression

Jobs tend to leave you in the same place from start to end, while careers will involve some serious upskilling and professional growth! For example, during the course of your career you could find yourself starting out as a graduate account after uni and end your career in a CEO role!

Mindset

Are you actively looking for ways to improve your skills? Or are you putting in the effort for that promotion? A career is viewed as something long term which you can progress and grow in, unlike a job which you may not see yourself developing in.

Using Jobs To Launch Your Career

Landing a career-style role right off the bat is pretty unlikely, but you can definitely use temporary jobs to launch your career. By pursuing entry-level jobs that teach you transferrable skills in similar industries, you can set yourself up for the career you really want!

Let’s say you’re dreaming of a chic career in fashion design. What’s going to be more helpful, a job in hospitality or a retail assistant role with your favourite clothing brand? By opting for the former, the skills you learn won’t be as transferrable to your dream career, whereas in a retail role, you’ll get a strong grasp of styling and what designs are popular in-store!

Conversely, if you’re wanting a culinary career in Gordan Ramsay’s Hell’s kitchen, retail might not be your go-to. Try chasing a waiter or dishwasher job at your favourite local cafe instead; you’ll get some valuable kitchen experience to use later on!

Female student writing on post-it notesTips for career planning

While the working world might feel worlds away, having a plan for your career (no matter how loose) can help you put your best foot forward!

Here are some things to consider when planning your career journey:

  1. What do you enjoy?

Thinking about your future career should get your excited! So pick something that you can see yourself enjoying. After all, a career is a long-term plan and there’s no point picking something at random that you have no interest in.

If you find this tricky, it can be helpful to start with what you definitely DON’T like. Hate maths? Then maybe a creative career could be more up your street! Why not write a list of what you enjoy and make links to possible career pathways.

  1. How do you want to work?

Does the idea of an office job make you want to run for the hills? Do you really want to travel with work? The way you want to work can vary greatly from career to career!

Or maybe you want to work straight out of school instead of going to university. This is important to consider as different career pathways may require different qualifications and levels of education.

  1. What are your long-term goals?

Try and think about where you’d like to be in five or ten years’ time and trace that back to what the starting point looks like. Remember what we said about finding roles with transferrable skills?

Pros of Pursuing a Career Over a Job

When you’re starting out in your career journey, it can be tempting to take the first opportunity that comes your way. However, being intentional with which industries you invest your time into can help you cultivate a greater sense of job satisfaction and end up in the career of your dreams!

In reality, we spend a pretty hefty portion of our lives working and, so, we want to make sure we’re doing something we love. Choosing a career means choosing your passion, the opportunity of meaningful professional progression and a lifetime of fun! In short, it’s very much worth it.

Launch your career with Explore Careers

Whether you’re wondering what industry might suit you best or you’re choosing subjects in high school, building your career is a long-term plan that starts while you’re still in school!

Not sure what career is right for you? Take the Australian careers quiz to find out!

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