I really believe that there is a job and a career for everyone. What is the difference?  A job supports the present. A career builds a future. Not every job turns into a career, but every career starts with a job. Sometimes choices are easy and obvious, sometimes they are not.

I had a coaching session recently with someone who is a good example. She has two real opportunities. The salaries are comparable so that is not the concern.

Job > Career

She just accepted a written job offer for a 3-month contract job with a large healthcare provider that she has heard is a good place to work.

  • The job is in a call center to answer employee questions about benefits. She can do the job.
  • It will be a very structured, rigid type of role, largely measured in how many calls she can handle in a day. She comes from a more relaxed environment so knows she doesn’t want this long term. But she can handle it for three months.
  • She knows she can prove herself, and will really try to get hired on a permanent basis at the end of the contract, hopefully in a different role. Career opportunities are there.
  • But the contract position does not include benefits, even if the contract is extended. She will get benefits only if she can get hired permanently.
  • The commute is manageable but not ideal because she is a single mom. There will be no real flexibility in her schedule.
  • And there is a twist:  The job doesn’t start for a month, so she won’t get a paycheck right away. And if she takes another position during that month, she will then be resigning from a job before she even starts. That is a problem.
  • So, she can do the job, won’t particularly like the job, won’t get benefits, but it has the potential to move her into a good career at a good company.

A job as a job

She also has an interview coming up for another company for an administrative data entry job.

  • She worked in the financial services industry for 19 years. This company deals with railroad equipment, so it will be new for her. The industry is stable and cannot be outsourced.
  • The data entry job will be boring. She has good experience in human resources. She would rather talk to people than just work at a computer.
  • The job is very close to her home and her child’s school. The commute would be ideal. This would make a huge difference in her family life. This is the primary reason that she would take this job.
  • Because the job is data entry and not a call center, she might have more flexibility in her schedule.
  • This might be a dead end job, or it might be a foot in the door with a new company with a short commute.

Assuming the upcoming interview goes well, she doesn’t know yet what she wants to do. She has one offer in hand and there are no guarantees that she will get another offer. That is what we discussed during the coaching session. Neither opportunity is better or worse than the other. They are just different.

What can you do?

Consider whether your immediate needs for salary and benefits are more important than your long-term goals.  Do you need a job, or can you also build a career? Think about it. This might be the decision point that will be the basis for your job search.