I have one question for you: “Do you want a job?”
Not so fast. Read the question again before you answer it. Done? Good.
Since 90 percent of the people who read that question answered, “Yes,” I will assume you probably did, too.
However, I challenge that answer based on the fact that if you are reading this, you have most likely spent four-plus years in college, attended several development seminars of some kind, and have paid thousands of dollars out of your own pocket to acquire additional knowledge and skills as well as a few ancillary documents to help propel yourself up the ladder.
Did you really do all of that just to get a job? No. You did all these things in order to build something of much more value: A Career.
It is truly amazing how few people know the difference between these two terms for employment even though the differences are blindingly obvious.
Wikipedia describes the word job as a regular activity performed in exchange for payment. This is not what most people spent all those years in school to acquire. A job is something you get in high school so you have a little spare change on the weekends. A job is transient for most folks. It is a filler for college students and others looking to earn some extra cash.
A Job Is Like a Weed
When you accept a job, it is understood that the duties assigned to you will not look much different on the first day or the last day. Employers who hire people for jobs don’t expect them to be around long and treat them accordingly. People who accept jobs don’t plan to be around long and treat their employers accordingly, as well. A job is like a weed, it pops up out of nowhere, then dries up and withers away and no one seems to notice or care.
A Career Is like a Highly Prized, Exotic Plant
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a career is a person’s course or progress through life (or a distinct portion of life). It is usually considered to pertain to remunerative work (and sometimes also formal education).
That’s a huge difference over the job definition, wouldn’t you agree? Now we’re not talking about a weed anymore. No, now we’re talking about a highly prized or exotic plant, one that requires nurturing devotion to make it bloom. The seed is planted in a special soil.
You studied hard in school. Just the right measurement of nutrients was added. You made certain to pass the various exams along the way. Water was added in just the right amount. You spent time focusing on your goals. A small bud poked through the soil. You began to seize opportunities. Dead or dying leaves were plucked to prevent disease. You gained new skills and vanquished bad habits. A tiny bud began to open. People above you began to take notice of your accomplishments. The flower bloomed fully. You came into your own.
When properly cared for, your career and the flower will continue to enjoy the spotlight, and new buds will continue to form.
Now, what will be your answer the next time someone asked the question, “Do you want a job?”