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The Difference between a Job and a Career

The Difference between a Job and a Career
When I think of a job, I think of a task that needs to be completed – now, today, this week.  Taking a step back from any job you should immediately see a start, middle, and end that you can easily define.  A career, on the other hand, is a different beast altogether, it has a start, but what roads and paths we travel to get to the end, could be completely different from whence you started.  While a job can be considered a singular occurrence, a career is the culmination of many jobs, events and changes in our life that shape and define us over time.  However, in our race to finish first and be the best, we can sometimes lose sight of the path we want our career to be on and instead focus on finding a job, sometimes the right job, sticking with the job, working on the job, staying up late for the job, etc, etc.
When perhaps what we really need to focus on is whether this job is aligned to our career path and goals.

Our Job is not our Definition

A job is an act of completing a task – I clean the yard, I deploy a new server, I exercise, etc, etc.  A job can be of short or long duration, but it always has a beginning, middle, and end.  Over time, our jobs have become our definition of who we are and what we have accomplished.  When we meet someone new, the conversation inevitably turns to the question of “what do you?” which we answer with our current job title. While LinkedIn is an incredible platform for connecting with people and sharing content, it also proliferates this idea by connecting with people by our job placement and title.   It is easy to say to someone, I do X for Company Y and have been there for Z years – done and done – we can move onto the next conversation.  It is a completely different scenario when we talk less about what we are doing, but rather what we have done, are doing and where we are going.  All of a sudden the conversation changes from the job and to our career – why am I branching out into new avenues, what am I trying to accomplish, where do I want to go.
If you want to stop being defined by your job, then stop talking about your job as if it defines you and start talking about your career directions instead.

Our Career is our Path

Careers and jobs have a somewhat symbiotic relationship, you can’t have one without the other. Jobs are the opportunities that define our career path, letting us try new things, succeed, fail and build upon those learnings. Careers are the collection of those opportunities that start the creation of the path we want to go down where to start to focus on questions that go beyond our job.
Where do we want to go?
What do we want to accomplish?
What jobs do we enjoy that we want to do more of?
How can I better myself through my professional life?
Why am I doing this?
While it is perfectly normal to jump from job to job to learn and grow as professionals we always need to be mindful of the path that we are on and ensure that the jobs we are taking align to where we want to go.

Where they come together

If you are coming home each day from working on the “job”, stressed out from the day’s activities, not looking forward to what’s next and overall feeling as though you are burnt out from all that you are doing – it’s a sign that your current job is not in alignment with the direction of your career and the path you want to be on.  Does this mean it’s time to leave?  That answer depends on whether the job provides you any additional value to furthering your career.  If not, then perhaps it is time to move on.  If it is, then find a way to get through the stress and the drudgery and make it interesting and inspirational once more.
When we don’t map out our career path, we find ourselves going from job to job, hoping the next job puts us back on the path we want to be on when this could not be further from the truth.
Your career is your responsibility – not someone else’s.
The onus is on you to understand where your job and career intersect and identify how one fuels the other.  If you are in a job and not thinking about your next step, your career path and where you want to go – then you need to be and you need to be doing it now.  Start simple and put together a 6, 12, 18-month plan and then identify whether your current job aligns to that path.  It doesn’t need to be complicated – start with what you are doing and what you want to be doing and draw the lines between them.  If the lines don’t connect how can you start to make them connect?  What do you need to do to start having that feeling of fulfilment needed to align your job and your career?
Break the cycle of thinking that jobs and careers are one and the same – and start planning your future.

Featured photo credit: Marius Boatca via flickr.com

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Greg Thomas

Software Architect

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Published on December 18, 2018

How to Brand Yourself and Make Your Business Stand Out

How to Brand Yourself and Make Your Business Stand Out

You’ve been in business for years and have finally hit your plateau.

The tactics you’d implemented for your customers aren’t working as they’ve used to. You feel like your business has fallen out of the spotlight and now you’d have to settle for any business you get. It’s how businesses work, right?

The truth is that some brands will fade off the business world–while others will adapt well and continue to grow. You shouldn’t be too hard on yourself for where your business currently stands. After all, you’d kept applying tactics that provided predictable results.

Instead, decide to not settle for average results and spend more time building your brand. To make your business stand out from your competition, you need to be unforgettable. But how can you?

In this article, I’ll cover timeless tactics that have worked for other businesses. If you apply these tactics correctly your competition won’t be able to copy them. Here’s how to brand yourself and make your business stand out:

1. Win Your Audience’s Hearts with Authenticity

The truth has always shined.

Even without the technology we have today, people always had a way of finding out if someone was lying. And, with everyone engaging in social media today, it’s hard to hide from the truth. Yet, this seems to be what many businesses fail to do.

For example, companies like Listerine have been fined for lying.[1] A quick buck today won’t be worth it in the long run. Instead, practice being authentic to your customers and they’ll eventually rely on you.

Allow your customers to buy your products with a money-back guarantee – then deliver on your promise. Be consistent with the content you provide and stay true to your brand.

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For example, if you provide coaching services for entrepreneurs, don’t sponsor irrelevant brands. If you stop caring about your brand’s mission, your audience will notice. They’ll question your integrity with your business and stop trusting your brand.

But if you gain your customer’s trust, you’ll start standing out from your competition. Your customers will feel safe purchasing from you since they’ll know you’re honest.

2. Share a Story No One Will Be Able to Copy

A few decades ago, a brand would’ve gotten away without being unique. That’s because back then starting a business was not accessible to most people. You’d either need enough money to launch your business or have the credentials. And even if you had all these qualifications, you needed to get past the gatekeepers.

Today, technology has disrupted many of the barriers that were present a few decades ago. For example, today a college student can launch a Podcast within a week. He can create a website in a few hours and record a few Podcast episodes. If he’s persistent, he can build a large following overtime and get paid by sponsors.

This is great news for aspiring entrepreneurs but there’s more competition than ever. You can only do so much before other businesses begin to copy you. But what no business can copy is your story.

That’s why you need to share your story with your audience.

For example, if you have a money blog, share how you’ve overcome your financial struggles. If you run a freelance writing business, share how you’ve overcome writer’s block. The more your audience can relate to you the better.

Without a story, your business won’t stand out. And if you copy what’s working for other businesses, you’ll experience short-term success.

Take some time to share your story with the world, your audience will love you more for it.

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3. Stop Reinventing Every Single Thing

“Don’t reinvent the wheel, just realign it.” – Anthony J.D’angelo

You may have heard that being original is the way to stand out. While this is true to an extent, you also shouldn’t be original when something is already working.

For example, if your competition has a successful Podcast in your field, then so can you. Don’t search for better alternatives to a Podcast if it’s already working.

Why?

Because this is a waste of time. Instead, copy what’s already working and make it your own.[2] If your competition has a Podcast, figure out which areas you can improve and tailor it around your brand.

Knowing this you can now spy on your competition and determine which areas you can improve. But, know that it also works the other way around. Others will view your business and copy what’s working for you.

That’s why it’s important to stay true to your brand and be authentic with your audience. When you do, your competition won’t be able to copy your unique traits. Have an abundant mindset and feel confident for what your business has to offer.

4. Shine Because of Your Uniqueness

Stop trying to help the entire world and focus on helping a specific group of people instead.

I get it, you’re willing to help almost everyone because you want to bring in more business. But the truth is that if you resonate with everyone, you resonate with no one.

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Take, for example, a marketing agency that helps businesses promote their product. This business doesn’t speak to anyone but gets occasional sales throughout the year.

But what if there was a similar marketing agency dedicated to helping real estate agents? If there was a real estate agent looking for help in marketing–who do you think they’ll choose? That’s why niching down is necessary if you hope to stand out from your competition.

Determine which customers you enjoy working with the most and determine which customers bring in the most revenue. Once you’ve gathered enough data, focus on servicing your ideal customer.

Don’t expect immediate results since this won’t be an easy transition. If you’re currently helping a narrow audience, slowly transition into a niche audience. Niching down is crucial to building raving fans.

5. Be the Brand Everyone Can Depend On

Being the brand your customers can depend on is important. How many times have you bought a product that’s failed on its promise? Or have settled for an average service?

Exceeding your customer’s expectations is a sure way to make your brand stand out. In the book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, studies on human psychology prove that when you give to others, they’ll reciprocate. Offer your customers free consulting, a free ebook, or free quality content. Eventually, they’ll be happy to reciprocate after receiving value from you.

View what your competition is doing and surpass their offers. For example, if your competition offers a free 15-minute consulting call, offer 30 minutes. When you focus on helping others more, your customers will notice.

Make it your mission to serve your customers first and then worry about making a profit. Other ways for your business to be reliable is by inspiring your customers. That’s right, a business isn’t only about selling, it’s also helping customers achieve their goals.

For example, you can write content that will inspire your audience to take action. You can interview guests that will push your audience to break bad habits. Get creative and look for more ways in which your audience can depend on you with.

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The Bottom Line

Imagine serving fewer customers and getting paid more than ever.

Despite the fierce competition, you’ve got fans wanting to buy your products and services. Although this may seem impossible right now, it’s not. If other brands have been able to stand out in a crowded industries, why can’t yours?

The truth is that standing out from your competition isn’t easy. There’s no secret formula that’s available to the rest of the world. The trick is to do what most brands are unwilling to do.

Many businesses don’t want to niche down because this will mean a loss in sales. But that’s sacrificing short-term gains for long-term success. Niching down is necessary to build a brand your customers will love.

Many businesses will spend a lot of money looking for ways to innovate, but won’t apply what’s working. But, not you.

You’ve got what it takes to stand out from your competition. Start slowly and master each principle covered here. Now go and make your business stand out like never before.

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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