A job versus a career: what is right for you?
Our outlook on work, life and all of the other aspects which make up our world have without a doubt changed in dramatic circumstances since COVID19 enforced a global lockdown. Our longer-term prospects will be heavily influenced by how we as individuals and families pivot and evolve in these new and challenging times. With doctors and scientists at the forefront of decision making and controlling timeframes to begin a post-lockdown life, politicians and the business world face daily questions on how to stem the pain without damaging economies way into the future. In the following article, we discuss the thought process behind a job search versus a career move.
- A job: paid position of regular employment; supports you and your dependents with lifestyles and necessities.
- A career: an occupation(s) undertaken for a significant period of a person's life and with opportunities for progress; fulfils your longer-term mission of investing in yourself.
During two recent permanent recruitment processes, two unsuccessful candidates were provided with feedback that was opposite in nature. Both clients were mid-sized organisations with international operations; employees could enjoy career development over 2 – 5 – 10-year pathways. However, career development is not laid out the way it can be within the supermajor corporate environments. Each was looking for an individual to replace an employee who had been headhunted out of the business having spent 5+ years across 2 roles at their company.
- Our candidate for client A was an excellent fit for the immediate role; they could demonstrate the relevant technical and commercial knowledge for the ‘job at hand’ and had a good understanding of their markets. However, they lacked ‘dynamism’ and didn’t convey a sense of where they wanted their career to go; they would fill the role but not provide a long-term return on recruitment investment in the client’s eyes
- Our candidate for client B was a superb option for the ‘company’. They had really thought about how they wanted their career to progress towards being a Finance Director and had geographical mobility. However, it was quite clear this role was a stepping stone, they didn’t focus on the immediate plans to tackle the role, instead they were using it as a route in; for the client, in 6 months’ time there was a danger of having to re-recruit and the candidate was approaching FD level (yet)
Ambition, passion, direction and clarity are all key points to consider when assessing new opportunities and conveying your candidacy to a prospective new employer. How we demonstrate our thought processes, tangible experiences and relevant achievements ultimately decide if we are to become the chosen one. The trick is to balance these points whilst also providing a level of reassurance that you want this immediate role. A potential danger is to fall too much in to the ‘job’ category and thereby show a lack of career ambition. Equally important is to ensue you do not go to the other extreme and only focus on the steppingstone this job provides you with towards your ultimate ‘career’ goals.
Ambition takes on different meanings for different people. You may well want to be a Director or CFO, but what have you identified as the missing skills and experiences you need to develop to get there? It may be that your ambition is to be the best at what you do, though you have no overarching goal to become top of the corporate ladder. This may well depend on your own mindset, or family life and individual circumstances for example. There is no right or wrong answer here and the direction and clarity you provide will enable both you and your potential future employer to work out if this is going to be the best fit for both parties in the short and long term.
If your Monday to Friday is a grind, do you just have a job? If you wake up feeling excited for your working day ahead do you have a career? Whichever side of this crude explanation you side with, you own your career. Whilst we are not experiencing ordinary times, the temptation to sit tight is understandable. Finding your current role less satisfying than normal could be down to a multitude of factors. Before deciding it is time to jump ship, consider the reasons for your current dissatisfaction. Is your current role providing you with those new skills to continue your professional development plan? Could the short-term pain be worth the longer-term gain? If the job is not fulfilling, the career mission won’t be achieved. As external opportunities do still exist, it could be time to assess new opportunities and make that career change.