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“Seek a job” vs. “Look for a job” — Knowing the Difference

“Seek a job” vs. “Look for a job” — Knowing the Difference

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Unless you’re born with a silver, or even golden, spoon in your mouth, you must seek or look for a job at least once in your lifetime.

But, do you know whether to use “seek a job” or “look for a job” in actual scenarios? Can you just conveniently interchange both expressions?

Feel free to read on ‘till the end to be able to understand today’s topic comprehensively. For now, let’s start with a quick synopsis of our inquiry.


What is the difference between “Seek a Job” vs. “Look for a Job”

“Seek a job” is generally reserved for formal writing and speaking, while “look for a job” is largely used in less formal to neutral circumstances. “Seek for a job” and “look a job” are ungrammatical and unnatural, especially for native English language users, so these expressions must be avoided.


“Seek a Job” vs. “Look for a Job”: The Grammatical Difference

In the online corpora, “look for a job” is more conventionally used than “seek a job,” and this could be because the former is more casual than the latter.

Besides what the stats show, there are also other grammatical features that we can scrutinize to further refine the comparison.

Knowing the subtle grammatical nuances between and among English expressions is utterly essential for communicating clearly and correctly.

That said, wanting to know the difference between “seek a job” and “look for a job” is a good thing because it shows that we continuously seek to improve our linguistic competence.

By and large, the phrases “seek a job” and “look for a job” are used interchangeably in similar contexts, which is also the reason behind the confusion.

One good way to compare the two expressions is by looking into the dissimilar elements contained in these phrases which are the verbs “to seek” and “to look for.”

So, let’s begin by cracking these linguistic codes.


The verb “to seek”

“To seek” is more commonly used as a transitive verb in sentence construction, although it may also be used intransitively on occasion.

Transitive verbs are those that need a direct object in order to make sense, just like when we say “to seek employment” which also means “to seek a job.” 

Those verbs that do not need a direct object to serve their purpose in communication are classified as intransitive verbs. 

You may also refer to our definitive guide on intransitive verbs for a more comprehensive discussion on the concept of transitivity.

“To seek” predominantly means “to search,” “to explore,” or “to find” something or someone that is needed for a particular reason, such as a job, a solution, or an opportunity.

The verb “to seek” is also a bit special in the sense that it is both a stative and a dynamic verb just like “have,” “do,” “think,” and “feel” and “look.”

This is also another reason why using “to seek” in actual scenarios is a bit troublesome for some people, especially non-natives.

Stative verbs describe “states” which means that they can be interpreted through cognition; meanwhile, dynamic verbs refer to “actions” that are perceivable via our senses.

Because of being stative and dynamic at the same time, it is natural to be confused with how to accurately use “to seek” in actual circumstances.


The verb “to look for”

“To look for” is a phrasal verb made up of the regular verb “to look” and the preposition “for”; as a preposition is present, “to look for” is also entails transitivity.

“To look” per se is also both stative and dynamic, just like “to seek.” This means that we can use it to convey either “to appear” or “to find.”

In the same vein, this hybridity may have also been causing the trouble in differentiating the verbs “to seek” and “to look for.” 

The conventional meaning of “to look for” is “to attempt to find” an entity that is also needed in the context or situation.

Therefore, we can also use “to look for” in phrases like “look for an answer,” “look for an item,“ “look for the suspect,” “look for the real victim,” or “look for a job.”


“Seek a job” vs. “Look for a job”: Using which expression when

In a nutshell, the expressions “seek a job” and “look for a job” denote the same meaning, but the latter expression is more applicable across all situations than “seek a job.”

This means that “seek a job” is generally reserved for speech and writing where formal language might be more applicable.

In particular, you may choose “seek a job” when you are being interviewed for a position or when you are writing a job application letter.


My decision to seek a job in the writing industry is prompted by mere interest, previous experience, and passion.


In today’s rapidly changing job market, individuals often seek a job that provides stability and security, only to be discouraged by a lack thereof in various industries.

In contrast, you may opt for “look for a job” in speech and writing where a more casual and natural tonality is required.

More specifically, you can use “look for a job” when you are having small talk with close friends and colleagues or when you are direct messaging your family members.


It’s quite hard to look for a job in the music industry.


Variations to “Seek a job” and “Look for a job”

To increase linguistic flexibility, which is necessary for communicative adaptability, variant expressions to “seek a job” and “look for a job” are also listed in today’s post.

The following subsections contain specific variations to “seek a job” and “look for a job,” respectively:


“Seek a job” variants

“Seek a job” cannot stand alone, and hence, other linguistic elements such as words and morphemes must be added in order to make it more meaningful.

After all, discourses will not take place without the extension of words to phrases, to clauses, and then to a larger series of communicative events that go beyond the sentence level.

Here are three common variations to “seek a job”:


Seek a job as

“Seek a job as” is often followed by the specific position that you are “seeking” or “looking for,” whatever it is.

Take note the last word “as” should be followed by an indefinite article that is dependent on whether the succeeding word starts with a vowel or consonant sound.

For instance, you have to say “seek a job as an accountant” or “seek a job as a correctional officer,” just like in the example below:


He’s confused about whether to seek a job as a correctional or probation officer because he is interested in both positions.


Seeking a position

“Seeking a position” is something you could either as a gerund phrase or continuous verb followed by an object in sentences.

You can seek a position in a specific industry, or you may also seek a position to find greener pastures, or you could even seek a position that will help you explore new challenges in your career.

Here’s an example of “seeking a position” in context:


Publishing an interesting dissertation is crucial for any graduate student who is seeking a position in higher education.


Seek employment

“To seek employment” literally means “to seek work opportunity” or “to attempt to look for a career” for practical reasons most of the time.

You can seek employment in a particular geographical location, industry, or field 


Immigrants who seek employment in the USA need to obtain a working visa that would allow them to work for a specific length of time.


“Look for a job” variants

Just like “seek a job,” several variants to “look for a job” also exists in English. So, listed below are some of the most common ones for your reference: 


Look for a job in

“Look for a job in” entails a noun phrase in order to make sense. You may add a location, a kind of industry, or even a particular type of economy after the preposition “in.”

Here’s an example sentence to contextualize the explanation given:


My younger sister wants to look for a job in the creative industry.


Look for a job within

“Look for a job within” also requires a noun phrase because “within” is also a preposition, just like “in.”

“Within” literally means “inside,” and therefore, you can use time, location, or industry-related phrases to make the “look for a job within” work in a sentence.

Here’s how you can do that:


He must look for a job within Atlanta so he could see his child regularly.


Looking for a job opening

The phrase “looking for a job opening” means actively searching for vacant jobs through job advertisement platforms or even through a network of people.

You may use “looking for a job opening” similar to the way it is used in the example below:


It is so much easier to look for a job opening online these days.


Commonly Mistaken Variations to “Seek a job” and “Look for a job”

Language is dynamic and arbitrary, and people are creative and intelligent; these major assumptions contribute to the occurrence of linguistic variations and irregularities.

To particularly address the linguistic concerns related to “seek a job” and “look for a job,” this section compares and contrasts specific expressions that are commonly confused.


“Seek for a job” vs. “Seek a job”: Knowing the correct option

Although the phrase “seek for a job” may not necessarily induce misinterpretation of meaning, “seek a job” is the correct and more natural option.

The grammatically correct expression is “seek a job” and not “seek for a job” because “seek” is just a regular verb and not a phrasal type.


(Natural and grammatical) You must seek a job within your country.


(Unnatural and ungrammatical) You must seek for a job within your country.

“Look for” is a fixed phrasal verb but “seek” is not, but, again, the two expressions are largely used in similar contexts and are also close synonyms.

These linguistic circumstances must have been causing the grammatical concern in distinguishing whether “seek a job” or “seek for a job” is correct.


“Look a job” vs. “Look for a job”: Knowing the correct option

Even if “look a job” may be contextually understood by listeners and readers, “look for a job” is the grammatically correct choice.

“Look a job” does not make sense, and both native and non-native speakers of English will likely notice the ungrammatical construction of the phrase.

So, you must refrain from using “look a job” both in writing and speaking to prevent a grammatical anomaly.


(Natural and grammatical) Your brother should look for a job that he’s interested in.


(Unnatural and ungrammatical) Your brother should look a job that he’s interested in.


Apply a job” vs. “Apply for a job”: Knowing the correct option

Though “apply a job” may not cause interpretation issues to any listener or reader, it is still wiser and more natural to use “apply for a job.”

If you want to communicate more clearly and more correctly, you must never forget the preposition “for” in constructing “apply for a job.”

Here are two examples for your reference:


(Natural and grammatical) I will only apply for a job that’s within my field of expertise.


(Unnatural and ungrammatical) I will only apply a job that’s within my field of expertise.


Frequently Asked Questions on “Seek a job” vs. “Look for a job”


Is it “seeking for a job” or “seeking a job”?

“Seeking a job” is the grammatically correct structure. “Seeking for a job,” although understandable, does not sound natural, especially for native English speakers.


What is a word for a person looking for a job?

A person looking for a job can be referred to as a “job seeker,” “job hunter,” “job applicant,” or “job candidate.”


What does “seeking a job” mean?

“Seeking a job” means “looking for” or “searching” a job vacancy that a person can apply for. “Seeking a job” is often incorrectly used with the preposition “for” as in “seeking for a job.”



For the most part, the confusion between “seek a job” and “look for a job” is just caused by the fixed preposition “for” in the latter phrase.

Therefore, teaching prepositions, as well as fixed phrasal verbs, must be given enough attention in language teaching and learning fields.