On pay perspective, I will say yes very important and this is coming from personal experience. In my starting days of my career i get to choose a higher salary post or a job role that can learn more (work more) but lesser pay. As someone whom is fairly junior, I take experience anytime, but I learnt that may (or maybe not) a mistake. Salary benchmark always refer to your last drawn pay, you can work and command like a Manager, but if your salary is 1 level down (Assistant Manager) or pay will not rise by a lot. Big companies (i.e. the likes of MNC) always refer to last drawn and want proof including your bonus. They have guidelines to follow which are not exactly wrong. This is the reason why people whom are underpaid with their current role's responsibilities jump a few companes (2-3 years per company) to get higher pay. I adopt a balance scorecard and pay is not everything. My balance scorecard includes a wide range of factors including location of organization, directions and vision of higher management, company's politics , etc. On personal experience and observation, I will say yes your first job does set a VERY HEAVY benchmark, sad but truth. I will quite another realistic example: 2008: Bank ABC Management Associate program pays $4500 for fresh grad. 2009: Bank ABC's gives 2008 MA employees a pay rise to $4800 At the same year of 2009, the Bank also hire fresh grad MA at $5,300. Those that are hired at 2008 wonder why with someone with 1 year experiences actually get lesser than a fresh grad, and worse of all it is the same company, same management program. Some even wonder, can i quit the Bank and join to get $5,300 salary? In the world of HR, this is how certain things works, salary is often a sensitive topic to discuss and certain practice will still follows for a long time.