Many people are clueless about how to start looking for a job and confused on what their career path is. While this confusion may not always be a major setback, it may give you false perception of where you are relative to your goals. Worse: it may get difficult to look for jobs, companies won’t hire you, or you can’t keep a job for long because it doesn’t fit your definition of a happily ever after. When looking for a job, it is wise to step back and view it from a career development standpoint.
Settling the Job vs. Career Mix-up
The confusion often stems from not understanding the difference between a job and a career. You see, the part-time stint you did over the summer is not your career. The one you are currently doing is not exactly your career either. Your summer job and this current job are just what they are—jobs.
You take a job for various reasons. You may need it to pay the bills or to gain experience. You may need it to pay off a small debt. In any case, your job is almost always short-term and may not even make it to your résumé.
Meanwhile, a career is a path you take with a certain ambition or life-long goal in mind. It is broad and is often made up of several jobs. If you want a career as an educator, you may start by teaching as a volunteer. You may then apply for a position in one of your local schools. Each new job you take will be in pursuit of this goal, whether to gain new experiences, skills and qualifications, or to enhance the ones you already have.
Job-Hopping and Career Development
While you may acquire a job with minimal qualifications, it is often required that you be educated for your career. You may also have to take further education to advance. As such, it is relatively easy to change jobs, but not so much with changing your career. While all it takes to shift to another job is a resignation and an application, changing careers often involves starting from scratch. You should gain another set of skills and take up job roles aligned with your new path.
If you happen to have reservations about the job you are in right now, don’t despair. With the right decisions and investments, you can still start a new and more meaningful one or find opportunities to solidify the one you have already begun.
Questions to Answer Before “Google-ing” Job Vacancies
As a kid, were you asked what you wanted to be when you grow up? There is a very good chance your answer to this question then and now are different. Over the years, you have acquired new experiences, learned skills, gained different interests, identified hidden talents or recognised pressing needs that may have changed your idea of a long-term career. But if you are like many others who are considering a wide number of career options, then don’t worry. There are ways to find the career path that’s right for you. You can ask yourself these questions:
- Where do you excel and what do you love doing?
- Where and how do you see yourself settling down?
- What kind of environment are you most comfortable working with?
- Do you want to work under a boss?
- Would you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert?
- Are you willing to invest in further training or education?
Once you have answered these questions, you will understand more about your ideal career as well as what you need to do to achieve them. You will be in a better position to decide on looking for jobs that fit both your current capabilities and the career you see yourself advancing in 3, 5, or 10 years down the road.
Having a long-term vision about what your next job means to your career progression will also be your guiding compass in choosing companies to work for, attracting recruiters, acing job interviews, keeping your boss happy, and of course, keeping your job until you’re ready to advance to the next one.