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Find A Job, Then A Career

All this nice fuzzy “wait for the right opportunity,” or “you want a career, not just another job” sounds good until your feet are held to the fire. I think a lot of career advice tries to be overly rosy and positive, without a keen eye towards reality. The reality is that when you’re unemployed, your are constantly running into failure on a daily basis. You send out resumes that seem to disappear into the ether, you call companies that tell you they will call you back if there is an opportunity, and you talk to friends who, as well intentioned as they are, say they will try to help but usually aren’t in a position to do so. It sucks. While there are steps you can take to boost your confidence [3], the grim reality is that it sucks.

This article is part of Bargaineering Career Week 2009 [4], a week-long series focused on your career – how to find a job, how to tailor your resume, how to find the job opportunities and how to nail the interview. This article is the second article of day one – career planning.

So when career advice says that you shouldn’t find the first job that comes your way and that you should use your unemployment to find the right career, it makes sense up to a point. If you’ve been out of work long enough to exhaust your savings and your unemployment benefits are running out, then you need to get a job.

How does a job differ from a career? A job is something you do just for the paycheck. You might enjoy the work but it’s not something you want to do for the rest of your life. It’s not something that gets you out of bed, excited and invigorated, every day. A career is a job that does. It’s a job that might be something you want to do in thirty years. Or it’s a stepping stone to the next level. It’s a job that opens up doors for your future.

However, when times are tight, we need to worry more about the near term future than the long term future. When you’re struggling to pay the bills tomorrow, it doesn’t matter whether taking the first job limits your future because you’re simply worrying about getting there.

There are some people who say that they will never take a minimum wage job. They see it as “below” their ability (if you don’t believe me, read some of the comments on this post of whether you should take a low paying job [5]). Unfortunately, when you’re in survival mode, you take any job that puts food on your table.

Do you agree or disagree with me? Do you think that taking a job that pays the bills over a job that is more in line with your career is a mistake? Even in tough times?

(Photo: jdeepaniii [6])