Is there a difference between a job and a career and does it really matter? I must admit I use both terms, I refer to myself as a career coach, but will use job and career interchangeably. The other day I got asked by a prospective client what is the difference and this got me thinking.

When you take a look at the definitions a job will focus on the paid element; whereas a career emphasises the opportunity for progression, in particular, upward progression. A teacher becoming a Department Head and then being promoted to a Head Teacher. A team member becoming a Manager to them becoming a Head of Department.

However, progression is not restricted to upward moves, it can also include a lateral move, which is when we operate at a similar level of responsibility but widen our skill set, moving into a different specialism, for example, you may be a Mortgage Adviser but then you move into Investment Advice or a beauty therapist adding new treatments to their offering. With the world of work changing, more people are having multiple jobs and a higher number of us are working for ourselves, the distinction between a career and a job is becoming murky and perhaps less relevant.

The key is not whether you have a job or a career, but whether the time you are at work enables you to get what you need from it.  Does your job/career fulfil your needs?  You see it doesn’t matter if you regard your job as a means to an end, as long as it delivers or if you regard it as a career with opportunities to progress if those opportunities are aligned to where you want to go. But in either case, if it’s not giving you what you need and want then it’s time to take action. This is what is important.

To figure out what is right for you, you should look at your life in its entirety and consider what your priorities are, get clear on what is most important to you at this stage. Your personal and professional lives are entwined. Your professional life needs to give you what you want for your personal life.  Who you are in your personal life, your values and personality should be supported in your working life, enabling you to be your true self. If your priority is to live in your dream home in your perfect part of the world, then your professional life needs to support that dream. It needs to give you the financial means to live in your home and be something you can do from your chosen location.

For other people, their career is their priority and their personal life is centred around supporting their career, such as how they make aspects in their personal life easier so they can dedicate more time and energy to their career.

Whether you class yourself as having a career or a job is irrelevant, but finding that job or career that gives you the ability to be your true self and to be able to do the things and have the things you want is what matters. When you find yourself contemplating changing your job/career, the first thing you need to do is to consider what you want for your life going forward and then how does this translate to your world of work. Because it doesn’t matter whether work is your priority or whether it’s aspects outside your work, to be happy we need to consider your personal and professional life together.

Career coaching is not just for someone who considers them self to have a career as in the traditional sense. It is for anyone who is looking to make changes to their working life so that they can be happier in their whole life. So if you are desperately unhappy in your job, but don’t think you are eligible for career coaching think again. For career coaching to start all you need to know is that you want to make a change and be willing to invest the time in yourself to get the support to help you figure out the answers and make the moves you need.

If you need help getting clear on what your vision is for yourself and how this translates to work then let’s talk.  And you can call me a career or a job coach, I don’t mind!