What are employees’ top career regrets?

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With only two per cent of workers stating that they have no career regrets, this list reveals what the biggest career regrets are for the majority of employees.

Research by Zety, an online résumé builder, has revealed the most common career regrets amongst workers. The following includes regrets linked to salary, networking and learning. The top 10 regrets are:

  1. Not taking more initiative
  2. Not having enough mentorship or guidance
  3. Playing it safe/not taking more chances
  4. Not maintaining my network
  5. Not quitting a job I disliked sooner
  6. Not negotiating hard enough for raises
  7. Not focusing enough on advancing my career
  8. Not networking enough
  9. Not negotiating a higher starting salary
  10. Not working harder at school


Zety also analysed the different genders’ regrets. Not speaking up about a problem at work left 34 per cent of women more regretful than men, 32 per cent more women than men regretted not negotiating a higher starting salary whilst 30 per cent more women than men regretted working in a field where they do not make enough money.

However, 28 per cent more men than women regretted not working harder, 20 per cent more men regretted not maintaining their network whilst 15 per cent more men than women regretted not taking more initiative.

Zety also found that 28 per cent of people wished that they had pursued a passion followed by 26 per cent of workers wishing they had negotiated a higher starting salary and 24 per cent of people wished that they had negotiated a raise.

Of those who did decide to take a risk, 56 per cent of people quit a job they did not like with 73 per cent not regretting taking the risk. As well as 41 per cent deciding to change fields or industries and 78 per cent not regretting this. Finally, 39 per cent decided to speak up about a problem at work and 78 per cent did not regret taking the risk.

These results were obtained by surveying 1,011 people.

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2 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. Regrets are a waste of energy, we make all our decisions based on the information available and with best of intentions. We should always ‘own’ previous decisions and accept responsibility.

    The weakness with regrets is you only have one version of events, you do not know what the outcome may have been if you had been more challenging, taken more chances or negotiated harder. It is absolutely possible that these acts may have had negative results.

    Your reality today is the end-result of every decision you have ever made, focus your energy on the ‘now’ and make the most of it.

  2. There’s an old saying how we must all endure either the pain of discipline or the overbearing, heavy pain of regret.

    I would reframe that advice toward development rather than enduring pain. You don’t have to work hard. Don’t be intimidated by discipline. Apply the scientific method, a daily strategy. The umbrella mindset is to think of it as investing……

    If you invest in fitness, you’re healthy longer. If you invest in your finances, you have a comfortable retirement. And if you invest in you, your career, you stay relevant…You develop a career and a life of worthwhileness, you’ll execute skillfully, stay relevant and look back on your career as a worthwhile accomplishment. That’s mastery!
    Who knows? Your third act could be helping and guiding others on the path of mastery that you already blazed!

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