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UK retirees share their wisdom with todays grads

The researched discovered that getting stressed (20%), working long hours unnecessarily (14%) and not having the ambition and confidence to push themselves up the career ladder (13%) were the three biggest regrets. Earning a high salary was only a source of career pride for 2%, highlighting that when people look back objectively on working life it’s not the monetary element that most springs to mind, but the more emotive aspects.

Biggest regrets

The five biggest regrets from working life were:

•             Getting too stressed about work (20%)

•             Working longer hours than needed (14%)

•             Not having the ambition and confidence to push themselves further (13%)

•             Staying in a job that wasn’t right (13%)

•             Not retiring earlier (8%)

The path to success

Over a third of respondents (36%) said that they would recommend looking for a new job every three to four years, while just as many (39%) cited the value of keeping up to date with industry trends. Career success was closely linked to feeling respected both within the industry and by colleagues, with 44% naming this as the aspect they were most proud of when looking back at their career. Only 2% cited financial rewards as their career highlight.


The advice focused on the importance of not becoming complacent in the workplace, and finding a fulfilling job rather than one that simply pays the bills. An overwhelming 57% agreed that it’s important not to be scared to change jobs, whilst half of respondents (52%) urged today’s graduates to concentrate on finding one they love. One in three (33%) agreed it was important to always do something that makes you happy.

There were some warnings too though, with a quarter cautioning against getting too drunk with colleagues and one in ten saying today’s graduates should ensure they keep any work enemies close.

Andy Sumner, managing director of, UK and Ireland, commented, “It can be very daunting entering the job market for the first time, and our research amongst recently retired workers offers some valuable and heartfelt insights that the younger generation should definitely pay attention too. As the research highlights, some of the biggest career regrets focus around not having the confidence to make a job change or staying in a work environment that deep down you know isn’t right for you.

Work forms such a crucial part of our everyday lives, so it’s really important people ensure they are in a role that fulfils them, and not just in the financial sense. Those entering the market should take the time to research and look into the sectors and roles that interest them, and not be scared to try different areas if something doesn’t feel right. This is such an exciting time and, whether you realise it or not, at this stage in your life the world really is your oyster.”


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