Google (Again) Reigns As Top Employer

Google HQ

What makes Google so attractive to graduates? Look closely and there’s something for everyone. For idealists, the call to “Don’t be evil” is a promise of transparency and inclusivity. For creatives, Google is a license to move fast and a platform to create the future. If you’re looking to learn, the support and resources are unreal. Did I mention you can take your dog to work — or hop a Segway between meetings? Between yoga classes, medical care, free food, and foosball at the Googleplex, you’d have to wonder who’d ever want to go home?

Google is also the dream destination for business students, according to Universum Global, which produces an annual survey of the most popular employers. From 2012-2015, Google topped all comers in its ranking of the United States’ “Most Attractive Employers.” Not surprisingly, 2016 is no different, with Google again finishing ahead of such perennial favorites as the Walt Disney Company and Apple.

Universum Global conducted its latest talent survey from October 2015 to February 2016, reaching 72,223 students in 165 majors at 359 U.S. universities. Among the respondents were 20,930 business majors, a slightly larger segment than students in humanities (19,653) and those in natural sciences (17,034). As part of the survey, participants were asked to select where they most wanted to work from a list of over 300 firms. According to Forbes, respondents were also asked to share the companies where they had applied or where they intended to do so.

Unlike previous years, Universum Global’s 2016 rankings failed to provide the percentage of students who’d selected particular firms. As a result, it is difficult to measure the reach and passion behind various brands among students in the sample. In addition, the ranking no longer breaks out MBAs from undergraduate business students, who accounted for 1,300 out of 25,506 respondents in the 2015 rankings. Among U.S. business students, the 2016 Universum Global survey was also based on a sample that was 18% smaller than the previous year.


Despite this, the new rankings remain consistent with 2015 — at least at the top: Google, Walt Disney, Apple, and Nike again held the top four spots. In fact, the Google-Disney-Apple troika has remained steady since 2013. Breaking into the top five this year was Ernst & Young, which had ranked there among business students from 2012-2014 before slipping to sixth last year.  Last year’s No. 5, J.P. Morgan, swapped spots with EY for 6th.

The rest of the top 10 experienced little change as well. Goldman Sachs, Deloitte, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) again ranked seventh, eighth, and 10th, respectively, with Amazon vaulting into the top 10 at 9th (at the expense of PwC, which fell to Amazon’s previous 11th spot).  Like 2015, when the FBI climbed into the Top 10, just one new firm entered Universum Global’s top 10, indicative of the enduring appeal of leading brands (or a tired methodology). In fact, just one firm, KPMG, has tumbled out of Universum Global’s top 10 since 2012, plunging from 10th to 18th among business students in the past two years alone.

This year’s big move was made by Facebook, which leaped from 23rd to 12th. Patagonia followed suit, going from being unranked in 2015 to finishing 18th. By the same token, H&M suffered one of this year’s biggest losses among business students, sliding from 19th to 25th. Worse, Procter & Gamble plummeted from 28th to 44th. This could indicate that business students are beginning to shy away from consumer goods, as Coca-Cola (-2), Starbucks (-3) also lost ground among top 20 brands.

American Business students also continued to gravitate to several leading firms. They include Microsoft (12th), Morgan Stanley (22nd), Bank of America (30th), Adidas (42nd), Boeing (43rd), PepsiCo (52nd), IBM (57th), and Anheuser Busch (63rd).  Consulting also remained popular among business students, highlighted by the Boston Consulting Group (35th), McKinsey (36th), and Bain & Company (49th).


The allure of many leading firms also translates to a global scale. As part of this annual employer survey, Universum Global conducted a global survey of over 250,000 students worldwide in the 12 largest economies. As expected, Google ranked as the most attractive employer among the business student segment. Apple and EY also ranked nearly equally between their overseas and American counterparts. However, there were several notable differences.

For one, Disney is apparently a product of Pax Americana, as the second-most appealing American firm doesn’t even crack the top 50 when the lens expands to business students globally. Similarly, eCommerce marvels like Amazon Patagonia, H&M also missed the cut in this segment, as did Facebook and Starbucks.

In their place, global business students tended to place their trust in established firm. KPMG, for example, ranked 8th when the American and global samples are combined.  At the same time, Goldman Sachs ranks in the top five for overall appeal, while PwC, Microsoft, and L’Oreal step into the top 10. The value of stalwart firms underappreciated firms America, including McKinsey, BCG, Procter & Gamble, BMW, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, IBM, and Nestle were also amplified among overseas business  students.

To see the 25 highest-ranked firms in both the United States and overseas, go to the next page.

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.