Is it really a job you want, or is it a career?
When you’re young and looking for a job, there’s plenty of tips and advice around on how to get one, yet there’s not nearly as much info on how to get a career.
Maybe it’s because having a career sounds like something out of reach – it’s lofty, or too ambitious – something for uni graduates only? For your long-term peace of mind, that’s an idea we’d like to knock on the head.
But first, what’s the difference between a job and a career?
Think of a job as something you take for money. Think of a career as something you build – out of a series of jobs that interconnect.
Now, picture these jobs all lined up like stepping stones across a river. As you move across, each job (or step) you take creates a path in a particular industry.
Why would you want to forge a career rather than simply take a job?
In a nutshell, it all comes down to growth and security. And no, we’re not just talking about money here. We’re talking about growing confidence and credibility. More than anything these are the things that give us peace of mind.
Each step you take in a career will see you growing – building skills, gaining more experience, cementing trust, and yes, earning you more money because of the skills, experience and trust you’ve built up over time.
Take a moment to imagine how much more confident and secure you’d be feeling with each step you’re taking across that river. And now imagine doing the opposite. Imagine leaping from your first stone to a log that comes floating by. Tricky hey? And where’s that log taking you? Will your skills and experience be wanted there? Or are they redundant?
If you’re always hopping from job to job in unrelated industries, because you’ve never really stopped to think about where you could go, you’re always going to be stuck at step one – learning from scratch again and again.
OK, so building a career is sounding like the smart choice. But where to begin?
If this is starting to sound a little overwhelming, stick with us. Chances are you’re already on a path and you don’t even know it.
Even if you’ve only ever had casual jobs or no job at all, there’s a possibility that something you’ve done or something you’ve witnessed in the past created a tiny spark.
Can you remember a time when someone complimented you on something you did? Or maybe no one noticed, but you did something and felt a real sense of achievement afterwards. Maybe you found it easier to accomplish than those around you did.
Perhaps your career fire was kindled by someone or something you saw rather than did? Maybe you saw something and dreamed (even fleetingly) of being a part of it.
Think of as many moments as you can and jot them down on paper. What strengths do these moments prove you have? What potential careers are being revealed? Write those down too.
Look at the job you’re in or the job you’re going for and ask yourself, where could this job lead? If you see it as a potential stepping stone, building on skills and knowledge you already have, and leading towards another step in the future, fantastic! You’re on your way.
If you can’t really see the job leading anywhere, it’s time to start work on a career vision and a plan for reaching it.
Look at the here and now
There are a few ways you can go about mapping out a career path, and it will involve thinking about your current situation, your strengths and what gaps there might be in your education. This is a lot to think about. But don’t feel you have to do this on your own.
If you’re in a job, strike up a conversation with your boss or maybe a colleague or two above you who you admire. Ask how they got to where they are. Ask them what steps they think you could take to move forward.
If you’re still in high school, you could ask your teachers, your careers advisor, or a TAFE Careers Counsellor for help clarifying your options. In fact, even if you’re not in school or planning to enroll in TAFE, you can still access some great careers counselling via TAFE.
If you want to do some more thinking on your own first, head on over to Headspace, and try working on a career plan template.
If you’re in the Blue Mountains, Penrith or the Hawkesbury, talk to us. We’re here to help too.
Whichever way you decide to go for now, we believe in you. And we urge you to look before you leap into your next job!