Job Search vs. Career Search - Are you Asking Yourself the Right Questions?

Posted by Amanda Wencel on Thursday, January 12th, 2017

In the dictionary, and over much of the internet and social media, the term job search is synonymous with career search.  But are they really the same thing, and should you prepare the same way for them?

In my experience, these are very different situations with a different set of conditions and need attention in diverse ways.  When we lose a job or are looking for a job, there are many reasons for this and a whole set of circumstances surrounding our timelines and decision making.

The trends I’ve learned are that the “job” is about the now.  The job is for someone that needs to find a position imminently.  This most often is because of financial reasons, but could be due to other things like needing desperately to get out of a bad situation with an employer, etc.   They don’t have time.  They just need a job.

However, being in this situation is extremely difficult because the more parameters you set on yourself when job hunting, the more doors will be close.  If you can’t work certain hours, have to make a certain amount, etc. then you are limited to the jobs you can apply for and the time it will take you to find work may increase.

In order to prepare yourself for the “job” search, it’s important to sit down and ask yourself some very important questions in order to be best prepared.  Even when you have no time, assessing is still a vital part, and in the end will make a difference.  If you are applying for just any job, without the necessary qualifications or outside of your limitations, you are going to continue to not hear back.  Take some time early to focus your search and get specific!  Here are some questions that you should be asking yourself in order to narrow down the types of work you are going to target:

Basic needs:
• How much money do I need to be making?
• What is my flexibility?  (hours of work, days of work, location of work, etc.)

Skill matching:
• What are my skills/trades experience/niches?
• What are my transferable skills?
• What jobs are available in my area?  Are they jobs in my field?  What companies are hiring people with my skills?

Other factors:
• Who do I know that I can network with to find out about openings in my area?
• Are there any job fairs coming up in my area?
• Is there a temporary agency in my area that I could benefit from, in terms of finding out what opportunities they can link me to?

Preparation for applying for jobs:
• Do I have a well written resume and a targeted cover letter prepared to start applying?
• Do I have my references organized?

Answering these questions can help to narrow down the scope of search and allow you to focus on the right types of positions and job titles, as well as making important connections with the right people who can help you to get off to a good start.


On the other side of the equation is the career search.  The trends I’ve discovered about the “career” are that it is typically people who are starting an all-encompassing search for a position that is more specific, interest-based, longer-term, and are defined by a very different set of research questions.

People looking for a “career” have many reasons for doing so.  This could involve a student coming out of school and just starting out in the working world.  It could be someone who is dissatisfied in their current position, or with their current employer, and is looking to stay in their field but try something new.  It could be someone who is looking to change fields entirely.

However, typically these are people who have more time available to seek out the right opportunity, not just any opportunity.  They are tired of doing the same thing, and are willing to invest in thorough research to identify what they really want to be doing.  They aren’t held under the same strict limitations with regards to time and finances, and therefore have less looming pressure to make a change.  Typically, they are more fearful of making a change.

These types of changes require a much more in-depth self-assessment process.  If you are in this state, some early questions to be asking yourself are:

• What do I think I’m good at? 
• What do others tell me I would be good at?  Do I agree?
• What types of positions look for people with these skills and abilities?
• Are there jobs in those fields readily available in my area?  Am I willing to consider a change of location in order to find the right position?
• Would I need to retrain in order to be considered for these positions?

Here are a number of websites that ask valuable questions with regards to digging deeper and discovering more about what you are actually seeking:

I can also point you back to my blog with regards to self-assessment, which has a number of personality type tests to help you:

Once you’ve analyzed your reasons for a change, and have focused your search, it’s time to start a job search plan!


“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.” ~ Peter F. Drucker

If you need help to define your job search plan, feel free to contact me for more information today!




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