It’s Bigger. A Career is Not a Job

A career vs your job

When it comes to strategy in business there’s something called a short term strategy and another there’s something completely separate strategy piece that plans long term.  Both, long term and short term strategies  are equally important for the future success of your organization or business, but the strategy, involvement, and planning behind them is undeniably different.  That’s how I feel about a career vs. your job.

Career vs. Job

Recently, Blogging4Jobs received the very humble honor of being recognized as a Top 75 Career Site by Forbes Magazine, and that’s when I really started thinking about the differences between career vs. job. The resources listed by Forbes spanned a professional’s career from intern tips to those looking towards retirement to more immediate career needs like job searches to long term career strategy plays and personal branding.

When it comes to your short term strategy, topics like your immediate job search, a workplace promotion, or salary increase are events that are likely to take place between present day and the next 18 months.  Similar to your annual performance review, these look at a relatively recent and short time frame when you consider most adults expect to retire by age 67.  If I assume that the average age of a newly college grad is 25, this means our career will likely span 42 years making your long term career planning strategy especially important.

Short Term and Long Term Strategy

While planning your short term career strategy is important, career professionals also need to have their long term strategy in mind.  The two my be symbiotic working together and complimenting one another.  This is the hardest part.  As a young professional you may have a ultimate career goal in mind but 3, 5, and 7 years seems so long term.  You are hungry, eager, and ready to take on the world, and it’s likely that your boss has other plans.

Often times your boss’s plans are in direct conflict with your own.  I was once told I was not cut out for a career in human resources even though it was my passion.  My boss saw me on different career path one as a store manager.  I confidently held my ground eventually leaving that company and later even testing out the position of the store manager role quickly realizing that my place was HR.

Annual salary and compensation are often times a powerful motivator when it comes to derailing your long term career plan and strategy.  Bills need to be paid, life happens, and dreams change.  That’s okay.  Even if your career plans change, it’s important to be deliberate, confident, and flexible as life gets in the way.  Continue to plan for both the short and long term being mindful that almost always the future is never what we plan for it to be.

Seek Out a Personal Board of Directors

As I mentioned, our boss’s plans are often not in sync with our own.  Managers hire for 2, 5, and 7 years, and for most career professionals that length of time is just a mere speed bump that’s one piece of our career strategy.  Seek out professional mentors and a personal board of directors to help give you honest advice and feedback to help you in the long term.  Members of your board of directors should include those in different places within their own professional career path including those 10 years younger as well as older than you.  Prospective from youth as well as experience is helpful in all situations leaving you with a range of well-rounded advice.

Where ever you are in your career, it’s important and relevant, and a long term strategy play.  Your career is also one that shouldn’t define you as an individual but support you as a person throughout the moments, memories, and events of your life.  It’s moments like these that I look toward planning my own career strategy staying flexible for possible work and life changes that lay before me and my family.


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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

Reader Interactions


  1. Amit De says

    Thank you, Jessica! There are some great tips in this article, but I really like your idea related to having a personal board of directors. Professional mentors are absolutely necessary when seeking to create strategies and goals to use on your career path. Having a board of them, even including younger professionals, sounds incredibly valuable to attaining and understanding your own career goals.



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