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"Constantly think about how you could be doing things better."
- Elon Musk, Investor & Entrepreneur
6 min read
By Lisa Teh

What does it mean to be a career builder?


When it’s time for an individual to enter the working world, that usually entails taking a job. But what type of job does one look for? Is it wise to take the first thing to come along and settle into a routine until it’s time to leave? Or is it more prudent to carefully chart a path, choosing to take jobs that allow for learning new skills and open up new opportunities?
This second option, which isn’t just working a job but rather taking an active interest in one’s personal development, can pay huge dividends in the long run. This sort of person isn’t just a worker like a cog in the machine. They’re looking to turn that job into a career. This person is a career builder.

To fully understand a career builder mindset, we have to take a look at the difference between what it means to be simply working at a job versus making choices that actively build a career.


A job, in the most basic terms, is a means to earn a paycheck. With many jobs, there is seldom the expectation of advancement or personal growth. A career, on the other hand, is the gestalt of all your jobs, training, relationships, attitudes, and experiences. Certainly, a career also offers an opportunity for a paycheck, but it also offers much more in the way of responsibility, development, and respect.

But overall, the biggest differentiator between a job and a career is your mindset. Are you just moving from one job to another without a long-term career plan? Or do you approach each of your various jobs with the idea that they’re all adding to a collective experience that’s leading to something greater?

If you look at your work with this latter approach, then you are likely on the path to be a career builder.


The hard truth is that when starting out, most employees take jobs that demand hard work in exchange for relatively low amounts of money. This can be discouraging to someone working a job. But to the career builder, it’s akin to a block that begins to lay the foundation for a career.

This low-level job may not pay well, but it might allow you to learn new skills, gain new interests, or meet new people from whom you can learn more new skills and find more new interests. Each time you learn something new, you’re adding a block to your foundation.

One approach is to look for paid apprenticeships or internships in your field of interest. Such a position is an excellent way to learn about the industry and start laying the foundation of your skillset. Oftentimes, these roles can develop into ongoing employment opportunities.

You will be presented with many choices during your career journey. In order to be ready to make these sometimes difficult decisions, the savvy career builder knows that a plan for ongoing career development is essential.


No building is ever completed without a set of blueprints that guide the entire process. If you’re going to be a career builder, you’re going to need your own set of blueprints for your future.

A career plan is a list of your goals, both short-term and long-term, and outlines the steps you need to take to make them come to fruition. A solid career plan can help steer you toward deciding if you need to take classes to develop your skills. Or what extracurricular activities can help you be a strong candidate for future jobs.

woman in black long sleeve shirt and black and white polka dot skirt standing on sidewalk

When drafting a career plan, the first big step is to identify your career objectives. Take a look at your interests and your skills. Think about what you’re passionate about. Then do a little research to see what careers may benefit from your strengths.

This is more than just a list, however. Often your initial review will overlap with a few different career options. So it’s critical to identify where your interests are the strongest. Prioritize what’s more important to you — and where your deal-breakers are.

  • Once that’s done, it’s time to set the goals that will help you build your career. One of the best ways to make a goal-oriented plan is to use what’s called “SMART” goals. This is an acronym that stands for:
  • Specific. Write goals with clear and well-defined objectives
  • Measurable. If something’s important, measure it. Find a way to mark each goal’s progress.
  • Attainable. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Make sure your goals are something that you can achieve in the time you’ve established.
  • Relevant. Make sure the goal helps you build your career.
  • Timely. Setting both a starting date and completion date helps to create a sense of urgency to move the goal forward.

Once you’ve created your career goals and start building your career, the work isn’t over. Remember, a career is a lifelong event. So even when you achieve a goal or complete a milestone, it’s important to take steps to keep building your career.


Every choice you make in your career journey impacts your future. So think of all your interests, any volunteer work, and even your part-time jobs as blocks that help construct and fortify your building. And don’t get too caught up in your work life. An enjoyable personal life is an essential part of any career plan that can help foster a greater sense of purpose.

People change over time, and so do a person’s needs and desires. As a result, it’s a good idea to review your career goals regularly to ensure you’re still building the career you want.


What is a career builder? A career builder is a lifelong learner with passionate interests who adopts a long term career outlook instead of simply jumping from job to job. Workers with this mindset don’t wait for opportunities to be given to them. Instead, they take the initiative and create these opportunities themselves, using them as blocks to build a successful career.

About the author


Co-Founder of Lisnic 🌏 Founder of CODI Agency (Digital Marketing)📱
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