When does a job become a career? : For those who are working now, along with those who are looking for work, work is essentially a necessity. For many people, the need is related to a source of income and for those who are unemployed, it becomes a need that reduces the amount of selectivity felt when weighing the possible options.
In other words, the first job (or any job) that comes along is acceptable whether it’s the best option or not. If that is not the best option, the process of finding a better job begins or continues. That’s the reason why many resumes I’ve seen as resume writers include short-term job listings.
It’s also directly related to a trend I’ve observed, where many of my resume clients are placing more emphasis on the job they’re currently holding or looking for, rather than looking at overall career progression. There seems to be uncertainty about when a job becomes a career.
I have coached my clients to develop different perspectives and see work from the perspective of how job opportunities contribute to career plans. When a person is able to change the way he views his career, along with his work, he is able to change his attitude and confidence, becoming a much stronger job candidate despite the many opportunities available.
What is a Job?
Since work is concerned with personal needs first and foremost, it is easy to focus solely on the job and the conditions in which it is experienced. A job may be something that a person takes up out of a need and expectation to get better over time, which can result in feelings of being trapped if the conditions are intolerable or the job requires skill levels that are far below those developed.
As a career coach, I have seen some people develop a sense of helplessness and resignation when time in such a job drags on and there seems to be no way out of it. Some of my clients have worked in the same job for years and their confidence is so limited that it shows in their tone of communication and character.
The first thing to do is change the perception that the current or previous job represents who the person is as a potential candidate. This is also related to the problem of chronologically written resumes, there is an emphasis on what people are doing now rather than looking at their careers in the long term.
Everyone is a summary of all the jobs they have, even if they only have one long term job. A job, or a series of jobs, is part of a bigger picture and is a person’s career plan.
What is Career?
A person has a career that they develop with each position held and through their work they acquire knowledge, skills and abilities. This is why I take a different approach to continuing writing and emphasize first the skills that a person has and can transfer to the next job they hope to acquire. This takes the emphasis off the current job, which helps encourage recruiters and hiring managers to take a closer look at their resume.
With a chronological resume, requiring one to look at each job and try to ascertain or guess what skills one has and in a competitive job market, this type of extensive review is impossible. In order to change someone’s resume format, I must first help them see their job in relation to their overall career, career goals, and career plans.
A career is often associated with and defined as a job, which a person can have during his lifetime, more than once at a time, or change as his interests change. I have several jobs that include work as an educator, writer, resume writer, career coach, and the list goes on. Although I have different job titles, the work itself is related to mine in some form.
A career involves developing a long-term focus and looking at each job from the perspective of what has been learned and the skills that have been developed or acquired. Every job contributes to that career in some way, even if it doesn’t offer anything new or challenging and confirms that a person is ready to look for a new job or a new job.
For example, my career work has always involved teaching and leading others – regardless of title. I moved from a corporate environment as a training and development manager to an academic environment with responsibility for leading and developing faculty, along with teaching students instead of company employees.
With every job held, I’ve looked at it from the perspective of how it contributed to my career, whether each job was perfect, imperfect, rewarding, or short term or not. This means I don’t have to dwell on unsatisfactory work because I focus on the bigger picture and what I can do to continue to develop my career and work.
Developing Career Focus
If you can change the way you view your career, even if you plan to change your job at some point, you will benefit immediately. Developing a long-term outlook will help you feel in control of your career, even if you are currently working in the most undesirable circumstances.
Instead of viewing a job or set of jobs as having no value or representing some kind of failure, you start to focus on the skills and knowledge you have and continue to develop. The following steps can help you to start developing a career focus.
Step #1: Determine Your Current Job.
If you change jobs frequently and there is no clear pattern for your chosen job, it can be helpful to define the bigger picture of what you want to do with your career. If you have been in the same job for some time, or held several related jobs, you may find it easier to describe your job.
It is also possible that some occupations also determine one’s occupation. For example, teaching can be described as work and work; although there are other jobs related to education that can be done by a teacher.
Step #2: Develop a Vision Statement.
Now that you have developed a description of the job you are currently working on, it is time to develop a vision statement for your career. This doesn’t mean that you have to explain what you’re going to do over the next 20 years or that you have to stay in a certain job.
However, consider what you want to work towards in the long run. For example, are there different types or levels of work in your job that you could work on as you gain additional knowledge and/or skills?
Step #3: Develop Short-Term and Long-Term Career Plans.
Once the vision statement is set, you can now develop a career plan and this will immediately help change your mindset and create a sense of control for your career. As a career coach, it helps many of my clients overcome feelings of helplessness in their careers, even if they don’t have immediate options to explore.
Career planning involves setting short-term and long-term goals related to your vision. While this doesn’t mean it has to be a fixed plan and one that can never be adapted or modified, it does provide a starting point for work and it creates a proactive mindset.
Step #4: Develop Work-Related Milestones.
With a career plan set in place, I also encourage my clients to develop work-related accomplishments to maintain focus on their career plans and vision. For example, if the short-term goal is to develop a new skill as a means of advancing in a particular job, a milestone could be a 90-day check-in to determine if the skill was acquired.
If those skills have not been acquired then the next steps can be decided and range from asking for a different assignment on the job, looking for another position in the same organization, or looking for a new job if the current job has reached the point where it is offered. no further long term value. This milestone is a reminder and provides an opportunity to reflect on career plans to determine if any changes need to be made.
Step #5: Conduct a Continuing Skills and Knowledge Self-Assessment.
When I first ask my clients to describe their current skills and knowledge, I often receive responses that are very similar to the job description for their current job. When you have a developed career plan and a long-term view of your job, you will also have a pretty good idea of the knowledge and skills required to advance in this job. You can use this as a form of measurement for your existing skills and knowledge.
It also helps you determine what you have earned or could possibly gain from your current job. Every job held throughout your career has contributed to what you have now and that is what you should consider as you evaluate what you have and what is still needed.
Step #6: Do a Professional Development Plan.
It is not uncommon for people to sign up for classes, workshops, or seminars without associating them with a career plan. You will find it much more beneficial to take advantage of these types of developmental opportunities as a means to advance your work and to be strategic in the decisions made to invest your time.
You may have a job that requires professional development and that may mean attending a workshop or seminar that seems irrelevant or unnecessary. However, it’s still possible that you can learn something or at least establish a professional relationship with someone in your work.
For your job and career development, it can be helpful to establish professional opportunities as part of your plans and include them in your list of careers or work-related accomplishments.
When you can look at your career from the perspective outlined above, you will create a mental shift from your current job to your job as a whole and the goals you have set for yourself. You will find that this gives you more purpose for your career and eventually you will develop a sense of self-empowerment for your work and self-actualization as milestones and goals become fully realized.
When you decide to change jobs or careers, you will talk to potential employers with confidence in your talents and abilities because you will be presenting your career from the perspective of transferable abilities and skills rather than just the need for the job.
Someone who has a career plan and goals is a much stronger candidate because they have a clear sense of self. A job does not become a career, but rather a part of a job that is developed over time and with a plan.