The most common career regrets

Regrets, we’ve all had a few. So, what are the most common career regrets?

A new survey of 1,000 people, by resume service Zety, asked about career regrets, meaning now we can all learn from other people’s mistakes and avoid making the same, right? Of course!

We’ve all heard that quote (supposedly attributable to Mark Twain) about how you’re more likely to regret the things you didn’t do rather than the things you did do, right? Well, it turns out that this is true, at least when it comes to career-related regrets. Only 2% of respondents said they had no career regrets, and among the other 98% the most common regrets were all things people didn’t do.

Top 10 career regrets

1. Not taking more initiative
2. Not having enough mentorship or guidance
3. Playing it safe or 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 in school

Different regrets for men and women

The survey also found some disparities between the regrets of women and men. Not surprisingly, 34% more women then men said they regretted not speaking up about a problem at work.

Top three career regrets women have more than men

1. Not speaking up about a problem at work (34% more women than men)
2. Not negotiating a higher starting salary (32% more women than men)
3. Working in a field where I don’t make enough money (30% more women than men)

Twenty-eight per cent more men than women, on the other hand, regretted “not working harder.”

Top three career regrets men have more than women

1. Not working harder (28% more men than women)
2. Not maintaining their network (20% more men than women)
3. Not taking more initiative (15% more men than women)

That may change later, though, as one of the most common regrets of the dying – according to the book Regrets of the Dying – is having worked too hard.

Most people regret not taking risks

Another notable finding is that 78% of respondents said they regretted not taking more career risks. Among the risks people wished they had taken, not pursuing a passion was the number one answer.

Top 10 career risks people wish they’d taken

1. Pursuing a passion (28%)
2. Negotiating a higher starting salary (26%)
3. Negotiating for a raise (24%)
4. Going back to school (21%)
5. Starting a business (20%)
6. Changing fields or industries (16%)
7. Speaking up about a problem at work (12%)
8. Choosing a challenging profession or field (12%)
9. Quitting a job I disliked (12%)
10. Moving for work (12%)

What’s the moral of the story? It’s never too late to take a risk or pursue something you really want. Speak up, ask for more money, start a business! Whatever it is you want to do, do it now, so you won’t regret it!

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