Paradigm Shifting: Job Search vs. Career Management (11 Profound Comparisons)

I frequently think about how we think of our job transitions. We are supposed to have lots of them during our career but too often we mix up the job search vs. career management. We think we are doing (or neglecting) one when we are doing (or neglecting) the other. They are really two completely different things.

The job search vs. career management

I’m completely intrigued by the people who have forgotten what a forced transition is like, or by those that feel totally secure in their job (or their ability to find a new job) – and their reactions to a “job search.” From what I’ve seen people don’t think about “job search vs. career management,” they simply try to neglect both.

Before I get to some differences between job search vs. career management that I’ve brainstormed, I’ll share where this came from. I’ve been trained to be a computer programmer, and, as such, I tend to figure out how to create a process that can be duplicated. So, if I’m going to change jobs nine more times (the stats we are given are not fun) what can I reuse during future job changes? JibberJobber is based on this idea. With that introduction, I now share my thoughts on the job search vs. career management:

The Job Search vs. Career Management

Job Search: I will start to look when I need to (unemployed, completely fed up, can see the writing on the wall, etc.)
Career Management: I am always in career management mode – I regularly do things that I need to in order to navigate quickly (and be in control of) future job transitions.

Job Search: I network to find immediate job opportunities, and hope that my network isn’t too stale (or… “what network??”).
Career Management: I have a very strong set of relationships and continually strive to add value to people that are in different circles than I am in.

Job Search: I find networking to be frustrating and non-beneficial to my search (and it takes too much time).
Career Management: As I nurture various relationships I find great satisfaction in watching my contacts succeed, congratulating them when I can and offering to help as appropriate.

Job Search: I don’t have time to volunteer – I’m too busy looking for a job.
Career Management: I actively volunteer in areas where I can contribute considerably to an organization and where I will meet other professionals that I want to get to know better.

Job Search: I have spent considerable time on my resumes and have “the perfect resume.” I hope I don’t have to do this again any time soon because it took a long time to tweak it just right.
Career Management: I keep a Job Diary (see Liz Handlin’s post on what a Job Diary is).

Job Search: I share my personal brand through my resume, interviews and my business cards I just got “for free” from VistaPrint (um, its not exactly free).
Career Management: I know what my value proposition is and I find ways to share this in various mediums. I have various elevator pitches (for different events), I know what a Google search on my name will produce, I have (or will have) some kind of strong presence online (I’m buying a URL with my name, I will start a blog once I figure it out, etc.).

Job Search: I don’t have time to read one more article or book on the job search – because its time to find a job and I need to apply, apply, apply.
Career Management: I have a list of books (and other resources) that I read to help me understand my own career options including job search stuff (interviewing, resumes, etc.), personal branding, etc. I am not hurried through these books and mix in my own favorite reading, but make it a point to keep abreast on career issues.

Job Search: I hope my next job is at least as good as the last one (or way better).
Career Management: Each job change I have will (should) be a stepping-stone to my ultimate career goals.

Job Search: I need something NOW (you know, mortgate, bills, mouths-to-feed, etc.) and am prepared to sacrifice what I really want to get what I need for now.
Career Management: My career is planned out – with flexibility. I won’t have control over everything but I know that my career is mine to own, and I’m making sure that I do everything I can to work towards my end goals.

Job Search: I hate recruiters – why don’t they ever call me back??.
Career Management: I have a handful of recruiters that regularly contact me. I’m interested in hearing what they have to say and have no problem selectively opening my network to them.

Job Search: I can’t wait until this is over so I don’t have to do this stuff anymore!
Career Management: My career management is never over – its a part of what I do.

Care to add your views? Disagree on any of these? Add a comment 🙂… and if you think you are a “career management” type and don’t have an account on JibberJobber yet, you need to click here to see what its all about…

The Job Search vs. Career Management?

What if it is the job search (when appropriate) AND career management! It shouldn’t be one or the other. But during certain seasons we’ll focus on the job search while during other seasons we’ll continue to work on the long-term goal of career management.

Once you get this there isn’t job search vs. career management anymore. But we’ll certainly think long term even when we need to work short term.

21 thoughts on “Paradigm Shifting: Job Search vs. Career Management (11 Profound Comparisons)”

  1. Excellent post! I was always amazed at people who treated their work as just a job, even when I worked at K-Mart. I saw EVERY job as an opportunity to learn something new and benefit myself far more than just the money and the health insurance.

    At 16 years old, this is how I thought, but when I graduated from college, I kind of thought that I wouldn’t have to manage all the aspects of my career as closely. That’s why I got a degree, right? I was shocked when company after company went out of business!

    Now, I’m in charge again. Why did it take me so long to realize it?

  2. Jason, excellent post. As I was looking at the layout of it, it struck me want an awesome opportunity you have for some really hard hitting and effective SEO with a series of posts on this topic.

    The repetitious nature of your brainstorming the comparison and contrasts of career management vs. job search could quite naturally lead to a series of articles where you get more in depth, and cover a lot more keywords than this post can alone.

    With the proper research of searched keyword databases and some deft wordsmithing, you could blast to the top of the search engines in your space. You know that I would be glad to explain how can help. -Carl

  3. I concur with the comments already made: this is a very balanced assessment that can lead you to deeper conversations around each of the topics. Love your UNSocial Networking category. The earlier people learn about career management, the better off they will be in the long run.

    I believe in subtle publicity done right vs. blasting all over — the permission angle is very important for the long run.

  4. I’m finding that Career Management was easier when I was looking for work. Now that I’m working, it’s harder and harder for me to stay in that mindset. I’m spending more time thinking about projects at work than my own career management.

    But I try to do a little bit every day to manage my career, whether it’s setting up a lunch appointment with a friend, or use my LinkedIn URL as I comment on this and many other posts. I also maintain a portfolio blog. I also look for other ways to share what I’m learning about career management.

    I don’t want to be mislead into a false sense of job security. Right now work is going strong, but I still need to keep my eyes on the big picture.

  5. Job Search: I’m going the take the first job that comes along and hope that I stay there the rest of my life while plugging my ears and singing, “LaLaLaLaLaLa!” And if I read great career-management content, it might jinx me so leave me alone!

    Career Management: I’m going to decide that not working (or, at least, not having a full-time gig) is better than working at a position that takes my career backwards a step (or more).

    Nobody said Career Management was going to be easy.


  6. These are wonderful distinctions. A strong message (or operating principle) of the course we run for Australian jobseekers (unemployed) is to think “career” rather than “getting off welfare”. Jibber Jobber is one of the resources we recommend.

    Keep up the great work!

  7. I have found Michael Maccoby’s writings especially helpful with regards to this subject of job search vs. career management. His book _Why Work_ speaks of different personalities people take on as to why they work. Some want to be the expert in their field, some like helping others, some like defending certain causes. The Career Management profiled here sounds like a mixture of the Self Development and Gamesman personas, the one who takes on work to build himself as an individual blended with the person who sees advancement as

    And then there are the many people who do produce for us in this society to whom work is not the most important thing in their lives. They’re happy with a just a job, a paycheck. (It’s been argued that sometimes those are the happiest because they don’t have so many competing unfinished things in their minds; David Allen of _Getting Things Done_ fame sometimes jokes that the more educated and brightest people tend to procrastinate worst because they feel they must accomplish so much, e.g., become VP by a certain age, run a multimillion dollar corporation, and have 2.3 kids.)

    It is also worth noting that at different stages in a person’s life, job vs. career may take on different importance.

    And nowadays, the way that any promising line of work can become obsolete due to technology or done cheaper due to globalization, I’d like to propose the 2nd paradigm be pluralized, e.g., Careers Management.

  8. Excellent post. The advice on creating and maintaining relationships and career management skills is right on. I know a manager who requires his employees to interview for other positions in the company just to keep their interviewing skills up and requires them to actively recruit people to join the company or help another employee obtain a new job. This forces them to keep up with the changing skill and education requirements in their field.

  9. I manage my career like I manage my finances, car, etc. It is a never ending process. I have been on both sides of a job transition (forced and by-my-choice), so I see both sides. I think it is just important to remember that you never know when you will stumble on something good, so by managing your career regularly, you can jump on those opportunities right away.

    Robert Stanke

  10. This really is great advice. I use a career toolset based on empirical/experiential evidence too. For me it is about applying the same discipline to managing your career as you do in your day job. Linking this activity to the skills you have acquired as a programmer seems like a simple idea but it is a quantum leap in terms of the knowledge and opportunity it unlocks.

  11. What you say is true, but will change as the overall priorities in your life change. Just wait until you get married and have children, a real deep and abiding bedrock for your life to take root in. Your work will still be important but it will no longer be the only part of your existence now that you have a life.

  12. Job search: I’m going to build my linkedIn network to find others in the companies I’m pursuing.

    Career search: I’m going to continue to connect to others with the intent to get to know them better, 4-6 contacts a week helps you grow your network. But more importantly, I’m going to help save souls by sharing my network with others and introducing them to those from companies I know. To introduce properly you need to know the individual who wants the recommendation and maybe vouch for their skills, talents and contribution. Inviting them into your LinkedIn network is not the end without nurturing your network of contacts.

    Job Search: I’m going to concentrate fully on the job at hand so that I will be perceived as a loyal and dedicated employee.

    Career Search: While committing to that company, I realize some restructuring or downsizing has nothing to do with me so I’m continuing to market myself by getting the most recent training, paying attention to my industry trends and gathering business intelligence so that I can be better prepared for any future job change. Career Search is a lifelong process and is the process of gaining more intelligence.

    Job Search: I’m going to learn all there is to know to find my next job hopefully doing something better than those competing for the same opening.

    Career Search: I’m going to network with others competing for the same job because business opportunities and job opportunities are improved when we are willing to help others. It is not a competition you win by not helping others in your same field.

    Other Career Search options:

    I will volunteer to present at the various resource centers on some skill, talent or experience that might help others in job search or starting up their own business venture.

    I will never avoid an unemployed person because I don’t have a current job opening.

    I won’t say to them “how’s the job search going” unless I’m prepared to invite them into my LinkedIn network and invite them to get to know others maybe who can help. this requires you to know your network.

    I will both emphathize with their pain from being out of work and will try to alleviate that by helping with babysitting when they go to the temple or networking events; will help them with any house fixups if they are strapped for money or time; will invite them to events when they would rather not be in public due to the shame; will talk to my friends and associates who might be in their line of work to see if they might assist.

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