Yesterday, I was on the phone with a business owner who mentioned she had interviewed a woman for a job at her company. She wanted someone for the position who planned to work beyond expectations and strive for advancement.
This business owner was frustrated.
The woman she interviewed had the qualifications, but wanted a 9-to-5 job. She had kids that needed to be picked up from daycare and dinner to put on the table. She turned the owner off by asking about the hours. “There’s a big difference between a career and job,” the annoyed business owner said to me. “She has a bunch of degrees, but this woman just wanted a job.”
Yes, she did, and there’s nothing wrong with it.
I agree with the business owner that there is a difference between a career and a job.
The people who have a career rarely work 40 hours a week. The people who have a career think about work during their off hours. The people who have a career make sacrifices in their personal lives to be more productive at work.
I’ve often thought about the difference between a career and a job, particularly when my husband is irritated by my taking a work call in the evening. I consider myself someone with a career and that means I’m going to take the late night call to make my article the best it can be, regardless of whether it infringes on my personal time.
In the career vs. job debate, pay is not a differentiator. Some careers pay the same as jobs.
Titles are not a differentiator. Some job titles sound glamorous, even though the job holder has little responsibility.
Advancement is not a differentiator. Some jobs may allow you to advance, however, not by much. Careers build on experience and the expectation of advancement. They require an emotional investment.
At some point, your work life needs may require you hold just a job. At other points, you may want to ramp up and concentrate on a career.
The key is knowing what the expectations of a position are and making sure it suits your work life balance needs at that point in time.
There is no shame in either choice. Jobs can help people start careers. They can get people through challenging times when work life balance is a concern. They can provide income without major responsibility.
It appears this woman was not a fit for the position in which she interviewed. That’s something to know before going in. No one should judge whether anyone else is “wasting their education.” Life is about choices and individual happiness and ramping up and down according to life’s demands.
Being clear about whether you want a job or career can save you and your boss and tons of frustration. If you’re in a position that you just need a paycheck, do the tasks you are hired to do and conserve your emotional and mental energy for the other pieces of your life. If you want a career, be upfront about your aspirations,turn on the passion and put in extra effort it takes to advance.
Either one — job or career — is okay, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.