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Career or job: What is more important?

August 21, 2009 10:51 IST

It is a cliche that building a career, not finding a job helps in being successful. But is there a real difference between the two?

Let us first take a look at the typical approach practiced by many young people. As soon as education is completed, most of the youth look for a 'job' and the jobs are evaluated on the basis of the earning potential, promotion possibilities, the opinions of friends in the industry and the perceived value of the job in the known circles.

Once someone is on the job, the next most important aspiration is to get a promotion or more money with the same company or with another. Very often he/she could hop from one job to another with ease for better 'prospects' as experienced talent at entry levels has always been in short supply and employers have been willing to pay a premium to attract such talent.

However, the scenario is changing now. Firstly, jobs are not easy to find, not only because they may not be in as many numbers as in the past, but also because employers have become choosy and their expectations are changing. If, in the past, employers were willing to recruit freshers and provide them training anywhere from three weeks to nine months, today they expect the ideal recruits to come equipped with skill sets they would have to otherwise train them in.

Once the candidate joins the organisation, promotions and entitlements do not come easy anymore, he/she is expected to demonstrate competence and also willingness to stretch beyond the defined expectations of the role to capture the attention of the bosses and the peers. In order to manage this shift taking place in the workplace, it is imperative to appreciate how to plan the work phase after education.

The starting point for planning one's work phase is to distinguish a career from a job. A job should be seen as a step towards a career and not as an end in itself. In order to plan a career, therefore, it is important to understand and identify one's own potential and strengths and embark upon a path that is built around them.

The gaps identified between one's skills and industry expectations can be filled by relevant training programmes in order to be equipped with relevant skill sets to launch into the career of your choice. Just having a string of qualifications on one's resume is not enough, training and qualification with reference to the career are accorded more value by the employer.

Career orientation will require one to be focused on developing one's skill sets in the specific domain as well as develop the all-round capabilities beyond the narrow definition of the job. While it may not be easy for all to have a very clear vision at the start of the career, being focused on doing the best at every stage of the career and have willingness to learn and adapt continuously would bring in sharper focus on career goals and build the resilience to navigate towards these goals.

The author is CEO, Global Talent Track. She can be reached at Visit  

Dr Uma Ganesh
Tags: CEO