There is a big difference between job search and career management. Job search is more an event that commences when you need a job and ends when a new job is secured. Career management, on the other hand, is a mindset that goes beyond job changes.

Back when the average worker went to work for a company and retired from the same company 40 years later career management wasn’t a concern. In today’s market, however, the average worker is expected to change jobs as many as nine times. Our career is no longer tied to one company, one industry, or even one profession. Therefore, it is essential that today’s employees learn how to manage their own careers.

The following nine statements illustrate the difference between job search and 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.

Job Search: I am good at what I do so I don’t have to look at gaining new skills.
Career Management: I am good at what I do, but I know that in an ever changing world I need to be continually learning for the future.

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 resume 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 journal that records my achievements as they occur

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

Job Search: I need something NOW!!! (you know, mortgage, 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 can’t wait until this is over so I don’t have to do this ever again!
Career Management: My career management is never over – it’s a part of what I do.

You have a choice, you can either take control of your career and future or you can choose to leave your fate to the capricious decisions of others.  Others, who frankly, don’t have your best interests at heart.  By managing your career you never have to do job search again. You may change jobs, but it will be because you have made the choice and it furthers your career.  It won’t be because someone else took control and made the decision for you.