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·         Working population reveals signs of career success

·         Average salary that signals success is £56,018 according to all workers

·         Almost half of women (48%) want to have achieved career success before the age of 40, compared to 39% of men

·         1 in 3 (33%) women hope to earn their ideal salary by the age of 35, compared to 1 in 4 (25%) men

Achieving ‘career success’ means earning an annual salary of £56,000 by the age of 40 – more than twice the average salary – according to UK workers. Yet when it comes to the definition of success, female workers have revealed their ambitious side, wanting to achieve key career milestones earlier than men.

The research of 2,000 workers by recruitment specialist REED has revealed what signifies ‘career success’ to the UK population. And whilst achieving career success is equally important to both men and women (51%), what they perceive as indicators of success, and the age they want to achieve them, reveals some stark contrasts.

The research suggests that women have ambitions to achieve this earlier, with almost half (48%) wanting to have reached career success before the age of 40, compared to 39% of men. And 1 in 3 women (33%) hope to earn their ideal salary by the age of 35, compared to 1 in 4 (25%) men.

Yet when it comes to salary expectations, achieving career success comes with a salary of £54k for women, but according to men, £58k is the magic number.

While women are more ambitious at a younger age, men are more likely to desire the independence and responsibility – and the resulting exposure to risk – of leadership positions. The areas that more men than women associate with career success are being their own boss (4 percentage points higher), being on the board of their company (4 percentage points higher), having a say in their company’s strategy (2 percentage points higher) and owning their own company (2 percentage points higher).

It’s not all about salary

The research by REED found that although the majority of workers (68%) do see a healthy salary as a sign of career success, other indicators of career success have changed. Old-fashioned markers of success such as golf days and business lunches are firmly out of favour, with a desire for a good work-life balance favoured by 75% of workers. Being able to work flexibly is also a sign of success to over a third of workers – 42% of women and 31% of men.

Despite the rise in open-plan offices and hot-desking, getting your own office is still on the list for almost half of UK workers (49%), with 35% wanting a designated parking space. Technology is playing an ever-growing role as a mark of success, with a laptop (45%), iPad (32%) and iPhone (32%) the gadgets workers expect to receive by the age of 34 if they are going to make it to the top.

Both men and women agree that 35 days of paid holiday would be a sign of success – yet with women currently receiving an average of 22 days per year, and men 23, workers are currently falling short of this goal.

Home ownership as an indicator?

During a booming housing market workers are also measuring career success by the age at which they can climb on the property ladder.

Over half of women (51%) believe that owning a house by the age of 35 is a sign of career success, compared to just 43% of men.

Yet the newest generation of workers (18 – 24 year olds) remains optimistic of buying a home by the age of 30, with 39% believing this helps define career success.

Tom Lovell, managing director at REED, says:

“Achieving ‘career success’ is deemed important to 51% of workers overall, yet what is most interesting from this research is what they define as indicators of that success and when they wish to achieve it.

“With addressing the gender pay gap and the glass ceiling high on the political agenda, it’s particularly interesting that women want to hit key milestones earlier on in their career. Flexibility is also key for them – seemingly more so than men – with 42% of women deeming a sign of career success, compared to just 31% of men.

“Interestingly, three quarters of people (76%) don’t think they’ve yet achieved career success, with the average worker saying career success is eight years away. More than half (54%) believe they are not yet on the right path to achieve success.”

Tom added:

“In order to make themselves attractive and hold on to the best talent, businesses must look at what matters most to individuals in the workplace and be flexible in their approach to benefits and salary packages.

“For candidates, the best way to get on the path to career success is to check you’re in the right role and the right organisation.  Consider your benefits, compare your salary to others at your level, and if you’re not being paid enough or think you deserve more, the ideal next step is to see if there are other jobs out there that could better meet your needs. Think about the package as a whole, weighing up factors like holiday, flexibility and ultimately – take home pay.” to find out how much better off you could be.


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