Job vs. Career: What’s the Difference, Pros and Cons & Mindsets

Author: Emma Williams
Author: Emma Williams

Chief Research Officer at HIGH5

Table of Contents
Stop guessing your natural talents. Find out your strengths now.

Both jobs and careers enable us to find income. However, there are some key differences between the two terms.

Does your work provide you with meaning? Are you passionate each time you clock in? Or, is the only purpose of your current role to generate cash?

All of these questions are at the heart of addressing when a job becomes a career.

You can start obtaining a job, but later turn it into a career by instilling a career mindset.

This article explores the many differences between these two terms and gives you ways to follow a career plan to turn your professional life around.

Key Differences: Career vs. Job


Usually, careers tend to provide someone with a base salary while jobs can be paid for hourly work. Those with a profession tend to outearn individuals with a job.

There are multiple reasons for this discrepancy, such as more formal education, specialized skills, and life experience with those who obtain careers.

They also tend to have more employer-provided benefits like health insurance or stock options.


Additionally, those with careers tend to be more educated. However, some jobs may still have a degree in a specific field as a prerequisite for consideration.

The reason why employers value education is it proves to them job seekers have specified knowledge.


Those pursuing careers typically dedicate their entire life to studying or working within a certain field. Thus, they are more passionate about that field than someone simply pursuing a job.

Career-focused individuals form a lifelong goal and feel connected to their company’s mission.

Those working in jobs may feel this to a certain degree, but their primary goal is simply sustaining themselves.

Job Definition

Jobs are simply tasks assigned with the end goal of exchanging production for cash.

Depending on the industry, certain skills or a thorough education may or may not be required.

Jobs can be a full-time or part-time position. When someone takes a job, their main motivation is to make money.

However, some only go on a job search to experiment with other industries or get relevant experience before transferring to a career.

However, transitioning into a career should be a personal goal for workers. It increases job satisfaction and passion while also building a variety of valuable skills, like long-term thinking.

Career Definition

On the other hand, careers are whole sets of jobs that you maintain throughout your life. They encompass all the special training and job experience you have received.

The motivation behind a career is more diverse, with goals possibly being a higher annual salary, more knowledge or satisfaction, or prestige.

One of the biggest benefits of having a career is the purpose you feel behind your work.

You truly feel like you are chasing after your goals while also making contributions to society.

Think long-term if you want to have a career, as it is something you will likely be doing for a lifetime.

Formulate a career path that excites you so your work does not feel burdensome.

How Does a Job Affect Your Career?

Even if you do not have a detailed career path in mind, you will likely find yourself experimenting with multiple jobs before finding one that truly excites you.

Remember that every job you take on is part of career development (read more on career change).

Here are a few ways that jobs can impact your future career:

Jobs Make Up Your Career

All jobs make up your overall career, even if they are not in the same industry.

Unrelated jobs still make up your overall career and develop your interests further.

Being a middle school science teacher after becoming a restaurant manager may seem odd, but ultimately skills gained from both experiences provide you with a career growth opportunity.

These short-term jobs connect you with longer-term opportunities and they provide you with ways to work on your long-term goals.

You Learn From Each Job

Every job provides you with practical training and specific skills.

They teach you valuable lessons that you can utilize throughout your career.

New experiences on the job can help reveal work-related strengths you never knew you had. A job as an artist can help develop creative thinking skills.

Additionally, working as a receptionist can build upon your customer service skills. There is no limit to the valuable information you can gain from a job.

Jobs Provide You with Networking Opportunities

Having a network of professionals around you can be extremely beneficial.

Maintaining a strong relationship with such individuals can be crucial to your long-term success; your bosses could play a role in your next job opportunity.

They can assist you in times of need or open up new opportunities for you.

Bosses or clients can also write testimonies or give recommendations to other employers to further their careers and give you an advantage over other employees.

What to Consider When Choosing a Career

When choosing a long-term career, you will need to research a variety of factors.

Remember that applying for a job is different from embarking on a career journey, as the latter is long-term work that you should be passionate about.

Always keep your interests and skills in mind when searching for career opportunities. The following is a more in-depth look at what to consider when pursuing a career:

What Do You Enjoy Doing?

Take a look at which tasks excite and energize you. A great and successful career combines your passions and interests in one setting.

If you enjoy communicating with others and are very persuasive, a career in marketing may be a great fit for you.

Or, if you enjoy working with children and can easily simplify mathematical concepts, consider a career in education. Do not get overly focused on the salary and benefits a career provides.

In any industry, if you see your work as exciting and interesting, you are bound to work more and further your skills. Thus, your salary will eventually increase as your skills develop.

Remember that you can have your career of choice and make enough to be satisfied and financially secure.

What Skills and Abilities Do You Have?

Finding out about your strengths and skills is a process of self-discovery.

You can take an online career test or ask others for their input on your skills.

Additionally, ask yourself which skills contribute the most to your prior and current success. Once you understand your skills, see which career cluster they fit into.

For instance, a career in engineering or technology requires you to be detail-oriented, computer savvy, and have strong critical thinking skills.

Consider the field you are most interested in.

Do you have the education or skills commonly associated with it? If yes, then you should advance to the next step of your career search.

What is Your Preferred Working Style?

Explore your unique work style.

Do you prefer a structured environment as someone who thrives under hierarchies and deadlines?

Or, does an independent and more relaxed atmosphere appeal more to you?

Ensure your work environment aligns and allows you to work at your best.

Even if you wish to be an entrepreneur, ensure the company culture and business atmosphere suit your strengths and goals.

How Do You Turn a Job into a Career?

Turning a job into a career is crucial for long-term satisfaction and happiness.

The first step toward finding a fulfilling occupation is understanding where you are in your journey.

Find why you are mostly focused on producing money instead of truly investing in your passion.

It could be because of a lack of skills or education or simply an unsecured monetary situation. Consider career planning to gain clarity about the future.

Set aside time to update your CV. Be sure to add your strengths and weaknesses to a CV. Once you do that, network with individuals within the field that interests you. Finding a mentor from your past job can help you advance forward as well.

If you aspire to land a specific position, ask someone who has already landed the position about their backstory and how they progressed in their career.

Speak to others about progressing beyond your job and try to find individuals outside your company. After talking, definitely follow up with a thank you.

This builds a relationship with individuals in your target field, thus making job seeking and attaining a profession more simple.

Finally, do not be afraid to take a managed risk.

Starting a side hustle is a great way to do this. Find something intriguing that you can do on the side.

Over time, you can monetize this activity of pursuing a field that uses the skills you use in your side hustle.

Frequently Asked Questions About Careers Vs Jobs

What Skills and Abilities Do You Have?

Recruiters often ask this question to determine one’s eligibility for a job, as it reveals a lot about one’s education.

Skills can include critical thinking, communication, collaboration, persuasion, technical abilities, leadership, organization, motivation, perseverance, confidence, and the ability to handle pressure.

The specific skills employers will look for are tailored to each industry and the specific job you will be applying for.

Jobs vs Career Mindset

Those who have a job mindset focus mostly on earning money without regard to developing their skills at work. They view labor as a way to make ends meet and hope to stay in this rigid position temporarily (most of the time).

However, a career mindset is truly focused on the long term. This mindset involves understanding the many steps one takes to find fulfillment and success.

How to Find a Mentor to Help You on Your Career Path

Find a mentor who is in the position you would like to be in, someone you look up to. This should be someone who is willing to open up to you and is very experienced and understanding of your position.

It is especially beneficial if they come from similar backgrounds and have similar interests. You can find mentors at your current job, such as those who are in senior positions at your company.

Overall Conclusion For Jobs Vs. Careers and What Best Suit for You

Throughout the course of a lifetime, all the jobs one has will make up his or her career.

Some start at low or minimum-wage jobs and work their way up, transitioning from one position to the next while maintaining goals and aspirations for a career.

In the long term, work should contribute to one’s happiness and fulfillment as opposed to simply being a way to make money.

This is at the heart of a career. If you work to build skills in a particular industry you are passionate about, the future will likely be bright and filled with happiness, and money will follow.

Case Studies, Academic, and Research-Based Sources:

  1. Hall, D. T. (2002). “Careers In and Out of Organizations.” Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  2. Schein, E. H. (1978). “Career Dynamics: Matching Individual and Organizational Needs.” Addison-Wesley.
  3. Greenhaus, J. H., Callanan, G. A., & Godshalk, V. M. (2010). “Career Management.” Sage. This book discusses career management strategies and practices.
  4. Ibarra, H. (2003). “Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career.” Harvard Business School Press.
  5. Briscoe, J. P., Hall, D. T., & DeMuth, R. L. F. (2006). “Protean and boundaryless careers: An empirical exploration.” Journal of Vocational Behavior, 69(1), 30-47.
  6. Savickas, M. L. (2013). “Career Construction Theory and Practice.” In R. W. Lent & S. D. Brown (Eds.), Career Development and Counseling: Putting Theory and Research to Work. John Wiley & Sons.
Author: Emma Williams - Chief Research Officer at HIGH5
Author: Emma Williams - Chief Research Officer at HIGH5

Emma is a certified strengths and career coach with more than 25 years of international experience in helping individuals and organizations achieve success by nailing and maximizing their unique value propositions. She is an entrepreneur, proud mother and a C-level executive at HIGH5TEST, where she leads its coaching and research programs.

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