Is it a Job or a Career?

Traditionally, employers saw job hopping as a red flag. However, with more and more job seekers choosing to embrace the gig economy, it’s become more acceptable to have a few short-term jobs on your resume. There’s nothing wrong with working a job just for a paycheck, but ideally these jobs all fall into a certain career path. How can you tell if a position is just a job or part of your career? Let’s dig in.

Job: You aren’t learning anything new.

Employers want to see that you’re progressing in your career path. That means you’re learning and gaining responsibilities as you move from job to job. If you worked at one company for a few years and then moved into a higher position in another company after that, that’s a career. If you held similar jobs at three different companies in three years, that might look more like a string of jobs.

If you do get promotions but are still stagnant as far as learning goes, it isn’t really a career. You want to learn and grow as much as you can.

Career: Each job informs the next

Essentially, a career is made up of jobs that each give you access to a better job. This doesn’t have to mean that each job pays more than the next; it just means you learn something in each position that can be applied in the next job. For example, maybe you choose to switch careers from managing an assembly line to working in sales for that same product. You might no longer be in a management role, but your experience on the line will be invaluable in selling the product.

A hodgepodge of jobs in different industries can still be a career if you continue to learn and grow. You can take something you learned as a public speaker with you to a sales position, and knowing the ins and outs of how events work as a wedding planner would be great to have in a marketing position. A career doesn’t have to be moving up in similar positions, you just need to keep learning.

At the end of the day, we work to get a paycheck. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But the hope is that each job you take opens another opportunity, so eventually you’ll have the career of your dreams.

Are you in a job or a career? Let us know in the comments section below!


  1. Connie

    I walked into the office on the first day of a new appointment and the woman I was to be working with informed me that she was known for being difficult to work with. Great, it was a small office with only her and me in it, but that was a major red flag. I did try but to no avail.

  2. Chris Rose

    I have always and will continue to learn and advance. However, there is such overwhelming age bias out there that I have to take what I can get, if anything.

    Maybe if could afford thousands of dollars in plastic surgery then perhaps potential employers would look at my skills and not my wrinkles.

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