Career Advice Vs Career Development – Can You Spot the Difference?

Career advice these days comes in all shapes and sizes. It's easy to get "lost in the lingo" but understanding some basic definitions can help ensure you get the right support for your needs. To put it simply, whether you need career advice or career development depends on where you are on your career journey.

Webster's online dictionary defines career as, "a profession for which one trains and which is undertaken as a permanent calling," and advice as, "a recommendation regarding a decision or course of conduct." Put the two together and you can see that career advice is usually something specific, a tangible piece of information given to meet an immediate need. It can answer questions such as, "How can I choose the right part-time job for me?" "What are the right clothes to wear to an interview?" or, "What professions utilise both art and technology?" There can be a sense of urgency when seeking career advice, as the answers that are sought are usually ones that require a timely response.

Career development, on the other hand, is often seen as more of a big picture view. While advice may be something you seek to meet an immediate need, career development is something that unfolds with time. The dictionary definition of development, as noted by Webster is, "the act, process, or result of developing." It can be thought of as an evolution of one's career path, and can occur both consciously and unconsciously (have any of you woken up and thought, "just how did I get to this place in my career?" It's more common than you think!) Having a career development discussion usually means you are thinking about things that have a wider scope. You may be wondering about future decisions, you may be thinking about how you can develop your skills to ensure continued growth in your field, or thinking about upcoming changes in your life and the role your personal values have on your career. Answers to these sorts of questions are usually ones that take time to unfold.

Both career advice and career development are important components in your own personal career exploration. Understanding these foundational terms will ensure you get what you need, and at the right time. If you are confused or have any doubts as to what you want to discuss, meeting with a qualified careers adviser can help steer you in the right direction.