What Is A Career?

By Rebecca Williams, Southwark Career Coach

The dictionary definition of a ‘career’ is: “the job or series of jobs that you do during your working life” (Cambridge Dictionary). In fact, when most people hear the word ‘career’, they think about the part of their lives dedicated to a certain type of employment. But in reality it can refer to jobs within the same industry, across various industries or perhaps just one or two jobs across many years.

When we dig beneath the surface, beyond the snappy definition of a “series of jobs”, other important areas start to come to light. Your job, or series of jobs, came about because you made various decisions about where you would like to work. Decisions about whether you wanted to be outdoors on a construction site or sat behind an office desk, preparing food in a busy kitchen or teaching children their ABCs. There were also decisions about the number of hours you wanted to work, how far to travel, and the people you’d be working with. Maybe you needed to upskill or volunteer to get relevant experience and knowledge. All these decisions were driven by your own unique personality, your values and goals.

So when you start to think about the kind of job you’d like, you may find yourself thinking “I’d like to create something new” or “I want to help the elderly because it makes me feel good” or “I want to learn about carpentry so I can become a professional carpenter”. When you start to think about who you are, where you are in your career and where you’d like to be, you start to build a path and can achieve a sense of progression. That development is what hallmarks a ‘career’ and is what makes it distinct from a job or “series of jobs”.

Getting started on this career journey and knowing how to move towards your goals, while still honoring your values, can seem daunting. However, it can be helpful to speak to someone about it, get support around forming a plan, and help feeling clear on your own goals. This ‘career management’ is just one of the things that our Work Well Career Coaches can help you with! Feel free to use this website to find out more about us and you can refer yourself if you’re interested.