According to Universum, noted for employer branding focusing on university students, Google has hit the top spot among the 130,000 students surveyed, beating Microsoft, IBM and Dell.
In the two lists, one for business and one for engineering, Google tops the both with Microsoft slipping down the list. Google, which has just reached its 12th birthday, has nearly 22,000 employees which is dwarfed by the now-estimated 85,000 that Microsoft have, even after the swingeing redundancies this year.
So what makes an attractive employer?
Events which reach the rolling news, the media and especially the citizen journalism spurred on by social media have a major effect. Major news stories such as the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill and even terrorist attacks which strike at the heart of major cities can damage the brands of major companies. Banking, oil investment and energy are deemed less attractive than before, and can often attract social stigma.
But in the engineering field, technology that we buy, consume, top-up and personalise in our every day activities make brands more recognisable. Apple may have been made famous for the iPod, but the iPhone has blasted it's music-only counterpart out of the water. Yet Google has become so popular over the years, the company name became a verb and has virtually ruled out any other search engine in taking the top rank.
The students surveyed were from "top academic institutions" which unfortunately is where this research slips. The problem is, is that the very vast majority of students are not from top academic institutions and as a result, get more of the university experience that they wanted to get in the first place. On a social level, the saying that "the top 1% control nearly half the world's wealth" seems to ring true.
Looking at the full top 50 rankings for both business and engineering, did you see what I couldn't? A single public sector body, third sector organisation or charitable foundation. Not one. There is a world outside the private sector and capitalism, you know.
An attractive employer does not equal a good employer. Remember that, kids.