When Do You Stop Looking for a Career and Take a Job

Lets start with some simple definitions:

A job is work you do to earn a wage but you don’t see yourself pursuing as a permanent line of employment a means to reach you desired job.

A career is work you do to earn a wage where the work is related to your desired job or position in line with your long term goals.

When you were 15 and working as a stock boy at the gas station it was a job. When you are 28 working at a nuclear power plant as a nuclear engineer you have a career, provided that is what you wanted to do. What may be a job to me may be a career to you. Working as a waiter is a job to me, but if you want to be a restaurant manager later in life it is essential to your career and therefore it is your career.

The Problem Today

In the current economic downturn people are losing their jobs by the thousands. They are being thrust out of their chosen career and left on the side of the road to fend for themselves. All of these people are looking for work doing what they have always done. They want to stay in their career of choice. The problem is all of their coworkers do as well. The marketplace is becoming much more saturated with job seekers and less saturated with openings. This means career type jobs may be more difficult to obtain.

The ranks of unemployed are pulling their unemployment checks and searching for their ideal job. At some point the unemployment checks are going to stop rolling in. What do you do then. Unfortunately more often than not people are starting to live off their families, parents are asking their children to “donate” money to keep them rolling. In most cases they don’t have an income by choice. There are jobs out there, not your career work but job. Walmart, McDonalds, other employers who pay money, it may not be much, but something is better than nothing. When I worked collections I talked to people who had been out of work for over a year, they were 2 almost 3 months behind on their mortgage their car had been repossessed but they still stubbornly refused to go out and get a job. They wanted their ideal career.

I would like to think if I get laid off and fail to find adequate employment within my chosen career path I would get out there and find a job doing something that pays. Some amount of income coming in to support my family or myself is more important than stubborn pride. At the very least I will be able to show my creditors that I am doing everything I can to pay back my obligations. Sitting on your laurels and farting around on the Internet should not be a part you play when you have no income coming in. Some money is better than no money. I am not saying stop looking for a job, but you have to draw the line somewhere and say enough is enough, I have to have some income.


1 K.S. Katz December 9, 2009 at 11:24 am

When I was a teen, my father lost his job as a construction project manager. He decided to start his own general contracting business. But while he was trying to build his dream, he also got a job working at a gas station. Between his freelance work and his gas station job, he paid the bills.

Getting a job doesn’t mean that you give up on your career.

2 Kyle December 9, 2009 at 5:18 pm

I didn’t mean to give the impression that you HAVE to stop looking for your career job. I know that was the title. My intention was to ask at what point do you take a job while looking for your career. I know people won’t bother to look for an income outside of their regular career even though income of any kind will improve their situation while you continue to look.

3 Thirtysomething Finance December 9, 2009 at 2:57 pm

I think you’re right — it surely depends on, among other things, the size of your emergency fund and monthly expenses (including debt repayment and whether you can defer any of the payments). Like a lot of people who are laid off, I’m looking for the opportunity to do something new, hopefully more of a “career” than a job” — but I’m different from them in that my job is quite secure, given my practice area. So I’m looking for my ideal career but am sticking with my “job” (which, to many, is a career) for now!

4 Kyle December 9, 2009 at 5:23 pm

I have a very secure job, that is somewhat in one with my desired career. I could see myself doing this job for years to come but there are potential opportuniies that could pull me away.

5 Revanche December 9, 2009 at 3:26 pm

I asked myself this very question when I was facing a layoff, but I realized that the best plan is never to stop looking for either gainful employment in my career field or simply a job that can provide income – I’m doing both. My preference will be given to the career job, of course, but I won’t shut the door to any possibilities while in need of income.

6 Nancy December 9, 2009 at 5:52 pm

I agree. A friend feels anything other than her field is “beneath” her. Even though she has hobbies that would fit like a glove with some retail gigs. It’s a stubborn mindset. Have not been in that position yet, but I think I would be looking for multiple streams of income in many different areas.

7 Kyle December 9, 2009 at 9:48 pm

I think I would hold out for a while. When it comes down to it though I will do what pays to help support my family. It is hard to go backwards but people need to realize it isn’t permanent it is just a means to survive until the right opportunity opens up.

8 Ashley December 10, 2009 at 1:00 pm

Nancy I know exactly what you mean. I have a friend that refuses to wait tables, work retail, or do any type of delivery despite being out of work for 9 months. Also Kyle I don’t necessarily think taking a job you feel is beneath you constitutes going backwards. In my opinion being blowing your savings and racking up debt because you don’t want to take a job that pays less is going backwards. If you scale back your spending and find a job (even one outside your industry) that pays your bills I think you’re staying even.

9 Kyle December 10, 2009 at 1:11 pm

It is a step backward from a career standpoint, but I agree taking a job to pay the bills is a way to keep you from falling into a deep debt spiral.

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