The Career Peak Paradox: New Citi/LinkedIn Survey Suggests Professionals
Believe Success is a Moving Target
Most women expect to hit their career peak at age 53, while men expect to peak
slightly later at age 55; though for most professionals, peak happiness does
not equal the height of success
Women’s career and finance worries decreasing; only 39% cite work-life balance
as a major concern
NEW YORK & MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. -- June 4, 2014
Citi and LinkedIn today released results from their fourth Today’s
Professional Woman Report, a national survey exploring women’s career and
financial concerns inspired by the conversations on Connect: Professional
Women’s Network. Connect, which is powered by Citi^SM, is the fast-growing
LinkedIn group with more than 300,000 professional women members.
Results of the study revealed that most professional women expect to reach
their career peak at age 53, while men expect to reach the top slightly later
at age 55. The age at which professionals project to reach the height of their
career success varies significantly by generation, however – with their
expected peak increasing as they age. Millennials expect to hit their career
peak at 43, for example – while Baby Boomers expect to hit the top at 62. At
the same time, most professionals surveyed believe the happiest point in their
careers was several years in the past. Those who are under 35 are most likely
to say that their happiest age was 28, while professionals ages 45-54 are most
likely to say that their happiest age was 42.
“The survey illustrates that career satisfaction and success are not just end
goals – they’re both moving targets,” said Linda Descano, CFA®, Head of
Content and Social, North America Marketing at Citi, and President and CEO of
Women & Co., Citi’s personal finance resource for women. “While the age at
which professionals believe they will peak varies by generation, most expect
the high point of their career to occur within the next several years. Yet at
the same time, they believe that the happiest moment of their careers occurred
several years in the past, suggesting that peak satisfaction does not
necessarily mean the height of career success.”
The survey also found that men are more likely than women to equate career
satisfaction with a “good salary” (58% vs. 52%), while women rated salary,
“doing what I love,” and “being challenged” as equally important to their
satisfaction. Further, women are more likely than men to equate career
satisfaction with “making an impact on the world” (32% vs. 27%) and “helping
people” (32% vs. 28%).
On defining progress and achieving goals:
*The number of women who feel that they have achieved their professional
goals continues to rise. 37% of women responded that they have achieved
their professional goals (vs. 31% in 2013).
*Of those who asked for a pay increase in the past year, the number of
women receiving raises is increasing. According to the survey, while the
percentage of women who have asked for a raise in the past year has stayed
relatively steady year over year (27% 2014 vs. 26% in 2013), 84% of women
who asked for a raise last year received one (compared to 75% in 2013).
*Professionals define their individual career progress in a wide variety of
ways. When asked about the most significant indicator of their own
professional progress, there were varying definitions of success.
*21% defined progress as “finding a job that allows them to pursue
*19% defined progress as “a more flexible work environment”
*17% defined progress as a salary increase
*17% defined progress as a promotion to an executive leadership
*Men and women did not agree on the definition of progress for women in the
workplace. When asked to define what the most significant indicator of
progress for women in the workplace would be, one-third of women felt that
the elimination of the gender wage gap would be the biggest win. Men,
however, were more likely to think that the “end of the need for the
‘women in the workplace’ conversation” would represent real progress for
women – and 31% of women agreed.
On top sources of career and financial concerns:
*The number of women who reported that they were very concerned with
work-life balance has decreased significantly. 39% of women are concerned
with finding the right balance between work and family life, vs. 53% in
*Financial issues are also less of a concern for women compared with
previous years. Compared to 2013, the number of women who said they were
concerned with paying off student loans has dropped from 46% to 35%; with
paying off credit card debt from 35% to 30%; with getting a raise from 29%
to 20% and with saving for retirement from 56% to 46%.
*The percentage of female breadwinners who feel that they’re under pressure
as the primary earner has also decreased significantly. 24% feel under
pressure, vs. 33% in 2013. However, according to the survey, both male and
female Generation X breadwinners continue to experience more stress than
any other generation.
*The number of women who equate “having it all” with “reaching the height
of success in their field” continues to decline. Results show that 12%
believe this vs. 17% in 2012, while the number of women who equate success
with “having a job that I enjoy and my work is valued” has risen (73% in
2014 vs. 64% in 2012).
“It's interesting to see that despite all the talk about 'having it all,' the
study shows that the number of women who actually equate it with success is
declining,” said Jacky Carter, LinkedIn Community Manager for Connect:
Professional Women’s Network. "As we’ve seen from discussions in the Connect
group, there’s no standard definition of success, and career progress can be
defined in a variety of ways -- from following your passions to earning a
For more detailed results on the Today’s Professional Woman Report, visit the
Women & Co. blog. To become a member of the Connect: Professional Women’s
Network, visit www.linkedin.com/womenconnect and join for free.
The 2014 Today’s Professional Woman Report survey was conducted by LinkedIn in
March 2014 among a nationally representative sample of 1,070 Professional
Women and Male LinkedIn members.
Citi, the leading global bank, has approximately 200 million customer accounts
and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. Citi provides
consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of
financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit,
corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, transaction services,
and wealth management.
Connect: Professional Women’s Network, a LinkedIn group powered by Citi, is an
online community of over 300,000 members where women come together for
resources, support and discussion related to their careers. To join the
community for free, visit www.linkedin.com/womenconnect.
Founded in 2003, LinkedIn connects the world’s professionals to make them more
productive and successful. With 225 million members worldwide, including
executives from every Fortune 500 company, LinkedIn is the world’s largest
professional network on the Internet. The company has a diversified business
model with revenue coming from Talent Solutions, Marketing Solutions and
Premium Subscriptions products. Headquartered in Silicon Valley, LinkedIn has
offices across the globe.
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Andrew Brent, 212-559-1299
Shaina Lamb, 212-704-8281
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