Workers who spend two to three years in first job earn higher salaries over career

It pays to stay

Workers who spend between 2-3 years in their first jobs earn higher average salaries over the course of their careers, suggesting a salary premium for staying put within a first role, according to new research by job search-engine Adzuna.

The study, based on analysis of 50,000 jobseeker CVs, analysed the earning potential of workers across the UK based on length of tenure in their first position, showing the pay premium on offer for staying put in a first job and revealing the optimum time to move on to a second position.

Table 1: Does it Pay to Stay?

Years in first positionAverage salary
0 to 1£33,000
1 to 2£36,500
2 to 3£37,800
3 to 4£37,100
4+£35,500

 

Table 2: Average Length of First Position - By Region

RegionYears in first position
North East3.1
Yorkshire & Humber2.8
North West2.7
East Anglia2.7
East Midlands2.6
South East2.6
Wales2.6
South West2.5
West Midlands2.5
Scotland2.5
Northern Ireland2.3
London2.1
  • A little loyalty does give workers a long-term leg-up the salary rankings according to the findings, with workers who spent between 2 and 3 years in their first role earning an average of £37,800 per annum, and those who stuck to a first role for between 3 and 4 years averaging £37,100.
  • Meanwhile flakey first-jobbers switching positions within twelve months of starting work average earnings of just £33,000, around £4k less per year, suggesting some employers may frown on mercenary job-switching, and that this may hold back long-term pay prospects.
  • Londoners are the least loyal, staying in a first role for just 2.1 years on average, followed by workers in Northern Ireland (2.3 years) and Scotland (2.5 years).
  • Differences are also visible between the sexes, with men tending to stay put in a first role for longer than women, at 3.9 years compared to 3.2 years.
  • Similarly, employees who went into the workforce straight from school show more loyalty than those with a degree, averaging 3.9 years in a first role compared to 3.0 years for university graduates.
  • Adding these traits together suggests that male non-graduates in the North East make the most loyal employees, while London female graduates the least.
  • The stats also show a huge decline in the average time people stay in a first position. Millennials are now staying in their first job for a fifth of the time the baby boomers spent when entering the workforce, suggesting changing generational attitudes to switching between jobs to climb the career ladder.

Andrew Hunter, co-founder of Adzuna, comments:“Switching jobs to climb the career ladder may be tempting for ambitious young workers, but patience comes with a premium. Workers who show staying power by sticking to a first role for a few years end up earning more than their flightier colleagues. Yo-yoing through a career by changing jobs often can be viewed negatively, and could harm pay prospects in the long-run. Instead, showing a little loyalty pays dividends.

“Workers are spending shorter and shorter periods within a first role, with each generation moving on more quickly then its predecessor. It used to be the norm to stay with one company for life, but now it is becoming commonplace to switch between industries and companies multiple times throughout a career. In part, the post-recession trend for shorter stints in a first job reflects the tougher jobs market. Employers have a tighter grip on their purse strings, which is forcing many workers to go elsewhere for a pay rise. In many cases, switching jobs quickly is a necessity, not a choice.”

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