UK professionals reveal their biggest career regrets

Three quarters of Brits would start an entire new career if they had the chance, with 44.5 per cent admitting that they’ve made a career move in the past that they’ve regretted.

New data from CV-Library finds 75.7 per cent of Brits would start an entire new career if they had the chance, with 44.5 per cent admitting that they’ve made a career move in the past that they’ve regretted.

The survey, which explored the views of 1,200 UK workers, found that those aged between 35 and 44 were the most likely to want to start a new career, followed by 45-54 year olds (79.7 per cent) and interestingly, 18-24 year olds (79.2 per cent). When asked what their top five career regrets were, respondents cited the following:

1. Moving to a company that I didn’t end up liking (45.8 per cent)
2. Not quitting my previous job sooner (29.4 per cent)
3. Not going for a promotion when I should have (27.1 per cent)
4. Starting out in my chosen career later in life (26.7 per cent)
5. Leaving a company that I actually really liked (22.5 per cent)

Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of CV-Library comments, ‘Work is a massive part of everyone’s lives, and we all want to be doing something that we enjoy and can develop in. It’s only human to make mistakes, or wish that we’d done something differently, but the good news is that there are so many fantastic opportunities out there to make the most of. My advice would be not to get yourself into a rut: there will always be an opportunity to reach your goals and patience and determination is key.’

Furthermore, the study finds 48.8 per cent of respondents wish that they could start their own business, with those aged under 18 being the most likely to agree with this statement (62.5 per cent). In addition, UK workers also stated that they wish they could: go back to college or university (38 per cent), get a promotion (36.4 per cent) and leave their job altogether (34.1 per cent).

Biggins continues, ‘It’s interesting to see that an increasing amount of workers would start their own business if they had the opportunity and also that many would like to go back and study. It’s never too late to learn a new skill or test out the waters with a business idea; it’s simply about creating the right balance and working up a recipe for success! Your career should be an exciting one and one that works for you.’

Nearly half (46.3 per cent) of those surveyed stated that there were other regrets that they’d had throughout their career, including: moving to a different industry they didn’t like (13.5 per cent), embarrassing themselves in front of their boss / colleagues and going for a role they disliked because it paid more (7.6 per cent).

The survey also invited professionals to write in and share their experiences. CV-Library has picked some of the nation’s biggest career regrets:

Denise from Birmingham: ‘I was offered an opportunity 13 years ago to train as a veterinary nurse. I turned it down and still regret it to this day.’

Tom from York: ‘On one occasion I told a very silly lie to my boss and ended up getting fired from a job I loved.’

Nathan from Norwich: ‘I stayed in a job I hated for far too long because I was comfortable and didn’t want the hassle of finding a new one.’

Samantha from Cambridge: ‘I gave up a job I loved to move abroad for a relationship that didn’t work out.’

Janet from Whitby: ‘I didn’t stand up to my boss who was a bully for fear of losing my job. Silly really given that I later quit any way because I couldn’t stand him.’

Peter from Hastings: ‘I wish I had chosen a completely different career path altogether.’

Anisha from Luton: ‘I should have stayed at my last position and not let others bully me into leaving – but back then I wasn’t very confident.’

Jack from Bristol: ‘I went back to a previous employer despite initially leaving because I didn’t like the role or company.’

Charlie from Slough: ‘I wish I had taken the opportunity to work abroad while I could.’

Chris from Edinburgh: ‘I wish I had started working for myself sooner. I’m now a freelancer and I love it!’

Further reading on career regrets

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

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