Work vs Job

When does a work become a job ?

For this blog, I am defining a ‘Job’ as an activity done to satisfy someone and mostly there is some form of short-term or long-term compensation involved. ‘Work’ is an activity done to satisfy oneself and may be someone else and there may be short-term or long-term compensation, but one would do the work even if there was none offered. With that foundation set, how to decide between job and work and more importantly should one choose at all, instead of just going with whatever the invisible hand of corporate bosses chooses?

At my workplace, I was recently assigned to a project that involved learning and working on a technology and tool set that I am not particularly interested in. Due to my natural tendency to recoil at anything unfamiliar or uncomfortable – and I do feel uncomfortable doing things I am not interested in – I spoke to people above and on par with me at the office about choosing which way to go. The technology I was asked to work on is new, seems very useful for its purpose in that project and, a major plus, it has the full backing of our organization’s decision makers. The only sticking point is that I don’t find it attractive enough. Given my low standards on most things, this needed further exploration.

As I spoke to many people in my office, people who are more experienced, more higher in their titles and more knowledgeable in career paths, the overwhelming reason, I was given, behind deciding on a technology or project was how hot it was regarded in the market. The more potential employers wanted a particular skill, the more weight was given to it. Again and again, people emphasized how job portals are being lit up by the toolkit I am finding unexciting and how they keep hearing from their friends, their friends of friends and their second cousins that this new software is going to become a much sought after skill soon and how I should feel good and excited to be placed in this project. The most common phrase I heard was ‘it is a hot skill to put in your resume’. The sad thing is, I agree to all of that, except that I still don’t feel excited about it.

Not as much as I am excited to learn new design principles or understanding graphic interface components or user behavior analysis. Now those things seem very attractive and even though I don’t know much about those topics, I would happily spend hours upon hours to learn and understand them. But this does not generate a similar reaction I’d expected from my colleagues. The common phrase this time was ‘those things have very narrow scope’ and ‘not all companies look for those skills’. It seems to me that, when it comes to paid jobs, one always has to pick whatever is hot in the market.

With that, we arrive at the question that, I am pretty sure, is as old and fuzzy as any question that involves emotions.
Does one do a series of ‘jobs’ everyday, which involve working on highly valued but uninviting stuff or does one do inspiring ‘work’ everyday, even if it means restricting one’s future chances of finding quick employment ?

I can almost hear the common and easy answer – a balance of both – One must have enough good jobs and a few exciting work so that one enjoys daily work routine while still keeping future job prospects in good shape. But this is not a practical scenario since one’s interests change and by the time one gets to the exciting stuff, the romance may have passed. Somehow, I feel that what piques the interest of the job market cannot dictate how one decides to spend a major part of his/her day. That seems very uncomfortable.

I have the weekend to figure this out.

What is your take on this ? Have you ever faced this choice in your career and how did you choose? Why?

[Post: 273 of 365][Days Missed: 94]
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One thought on “Work vs Job

  1. I will just say my 2 cents worth. Like the matrix says “You have already made the choice, you jut have to understand why you made it.”

    So here are a few
    1. Money – will your current knowledge level and interest get the green bills rolling for the next few years. In this includes your hire-ability and security.
    2. Market acceptance vs company size – one of the things in these second tier software companies is, they work on what the top companies feed them. So until you move to a top level company you are stuck with this. Who knows what the top level companies do?
    3. Technical vs managerial – If you plan to move out of the technical role in the next few years don’t worry too much on the technology you are working on.
    4. Interest – Are you person who tries out new technologies. Do you do pet projects at home. Are you really interested in software development outside the scope of your project.

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