A Job, Woe is Me
Jobs can be given negative reputations because they may be perceived as in opposition to entrepreneurship or being self-employed. Somehow, somewhere the mind virus spread that if you’re not a corporate CEO, franchiser or “doing my own thing” a professional must treat a job as a last resort.
Respectable work within organizational life has taken a backseat to the egoism associated with flaunting social media status success. But there are entrepreneurs who also have (and had prior to) organizational jobs, with the wise advising on how to actualize benefit from both endeavors simultaneously.
If an aspiring entrepreneur never had a job before, I’d introduce the idea to obtain one if not for the mere experience of knowing what it’s like to serve another person with value. Not to mention knowing how to avoid HR blunders [I’m reminded of a professional who told me a 19-year-old CTO informed her at the interview he was only looking for candidates between the ages of 19-23.] For more discussion on how to counteract this, see my article on intrapreneurship.
A Job, How to Utilize Thee
When you learn about some of the families that tend to have generational business longevity, holding family offices, you realize the family heads don’t just throw their relatives in leadership roles unless they could care less about value.
Family offices with integrity have to learn the basics, the fundamentals and humility of what it’s like to work on the front lines as a direct value deliverer; they have to learn how to serve people before acquiring the power to lead people. The symbiotic relationship between the customer and the occupation is honed through having a job.
Operating in a space where people relations of the highest caliber is a necessity to do the work beyond well, I can gauge how much depth a person absorbed being in a job by how focused they are on the value trail, from gaining skills to delivering that value to another person, tracking the scope.
While anyone can set up an LLC online, understanding customers, handling conflict and the diplomatic rigors associated with a day-to-day work environment cannot be simply purchased online. Those capabilities can be simulated in workshop trainings and will develop in an organizational environment.
Sometimes people are surprised by just how much value they provided when giving a new look at their credentials; it can also be easy to overlook them because it was “just a job.”
Similar to how striking out on one’s own can be launched from a job, a job has the ability to craft a career. It warrants attention.
Here I’ll describe the relationship between the job and career as the terms tend to be used interchangeably but aren’t the same. Ideally, having clarity on the functions for them can help with better goal planning, seeing the gains each offers when worked with.
Career + Job
The career is long-term, often designated with a profession [lawyer, sales professional, doctor, mechanical engineer, software engineer].
The job is short-term, often designated with a title that can become a profession [law intern, sales associate, medical assistant, mechanical engineer intern].
The career can align with a vocation, a purpose or raison d’être but doesn’t have to. Committing enough years to build a career’s skill set may induce insight into serving in this way as part of a larger, planetary mission.
The job may align with a budding vocation but its short-term nature offers a specific experience set that can propel a professional into a next stage for it.
The career is strategically approached; since it lives within an industry, the time and learning involved to comprehend the industry’s cycles requests the professional to plan ahead. The career needs foresight.
The job may be tactically or strategically approached. If tactical, the role might be one for the current time, providing income flow and material needs along with experiences. If strategic, the job can confer skill development, with the professional being actively involved seeking out growth opportunities to accelerate in the career. The job needs patience and foresight.
The career is in service of self and others. Perhaps one of the more overlooked aspects of why a career differs is this focus on other people in addition to oneself. When I observe many of the fast-track make-money business propositions there is little if any talk about how what they do actually adds value to people’s lives. Not surprisingly then, with this kind of approach flooding our digital spaces we can see how the second part of the equation is lost, and our society ends up with a parasitic-type of capitalism that tries to extract the most without giving back. When contemplating a career, you end up in a headspace of wholesale influence on a niche within an industry. Your contributions become bigger than just what you get out of it. The body of work or service accumulated over time makes a mark on the industry’s development.
[Side Thought: I’m aware of the debate about how nasty capitalism can be and would propose that if we didn’t have a system that allowed for people to use their creative intelligence to produce new ideas and value for people and be compensated for that, most of the products we’re using right now to read this wouldn’t exist. Or would be owned and dictated by a government entity. No competitive options for customers with computers, schools, price or company to work with. You take what you’re told to work with, nothing more or less and face the punitive if you disobey. Quite totalitarian. Are we seeing signs of this now?]
The job tends to be in service of self. This necessarily doesn’t have to be a negative; it’s just important to know if you accepted a role as merely a job then its function for you may differ. It might not be in the industry you want as your career, so you’re less emotionally invested in it. Career-related or not, do your best. Reputation doesn’t care about what the job is, how enjoyable or undesirable it is. Ensure you enter and exit your jobs with as much honor and performance as you can.
The career is about self-evolution. Often you may have many jobs within your career, so if you’re the self-reflecting type, the accumulated experiences can grant you wisdom, seeing yourself as one growing giant among others in the space.
The job is about incremental improvement. Going into each role seeking growth challenges, being deliberate about what you want to experience, it’s a way to advance your professional portfolio. For getting started, see my article on the career journal.
While we can have many jobs, without the establishment of some purpose for our skill suite, the feeling of just floating from one role to the next can take over, creating an uncertainty vibe. Then the years pass by. Planning, self-inventorying and learning about ourselves can remove the potential for falling into that ambiguity.