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How to tell the difference between a job and a career

Do you want a career or a job? Well, what’s the difference when you just need to pay bills? There isn’t one if that’s all you’re after.

If you are looking for career progression, job satisfaction, and a new and exciting challenge … then there is a big difference.  A career is a strategic step in the direction you are taking your life. What is your dream job and where do you see yourself in 5, 10, 15 years? Remember, it doesn’t matter how fast you are going, if you are going in the wrong direction. So be clear on an end in mind.

When you are deciding if it is a career move you are making, you must think about the value proposition and alignment to your long-term goals.  What skills, experience, and connections will this job give you that will get you closer to your end goal. If you can’t think of any, then it might be just a job.

What should you look for in a career start employer? An organisation that values their employees, hires great people, and invests in their team. It is important for you to figure out what is important to you on an individual level and compare that with your career start organisation. Some suggestions: regular feedback from the direct report, goals and transparency, training and development, fair compensation and agreed Key Performance Indicators (KPI).

If you do background research and are unable to answer all of the questions you have about your potential growth with the company… ask! The interviewer will be impressed that you have a long-term goal and plan to get there. If it is aligned with the organisation’s goals, they will see you as an investment. Detailed questions about your potential fit and progression show that you are looking to invest yourself in something that will contribute to your longer term plan, this increases engagement, and you will be better in your role that someone who is just doing it for the money!

  • What are the organisations’ goals?
  • How do they align with you personal goals?
  • What is the manager’s vision and goal for the role?
  • Does the organisation support internal promotions and movement within for career progression?
  • Do they have an example of someone who has moved within the organisation?
  • Are the manager and the organisation invested in employee development and how is it demonstrated?
  • Are there training or development opportunities?
  • What is a realistic timeframe for progression in your role?

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