Skip to main content

France’s Most Attractive Employers 2019

By Universum on 24/04/2019

French talent are focusing on the short term. Their priorities are to quickly establish good references for their career, to obtain a good base salary and to be able to take up challenges. 

  • For the 14th consecutive year, LVMH remains the employer of choice for business students
  • French talent are showing a growing preference for national employers over international firms
  • Students are choosing companies that make them dream and not those that they consider to be more ethical

Stockholm, April 24th 2019 – Last week Universum launched the findings from the French portion of its annual Global Talent Survey. This year saw more than 36,000 participating students from 137 different areas of study and 157 universities share their opinions and views on their career goals and ideal employers. Set out to track career aspirations and preferences of the future talent pool, France’s Most Attractive Employers 2019 recognises the current most coveted employers based solely on the responses collected from the local talent pool.

While both rankings remain very stable, on the whole, French employers are making an impact and are standing their ground against competition from foreign internationals. French employers make up the majority of companies ranked in the top ten; these are a mix of global and more locally renowned employers that have captured the imagination and interest of local business and engineering talent.

Outside the top ten of each ranking, many French Employers are making healthy gains to win over talent from at least one main fields of study, some have even managed to gain favour with both groups. On the business ranking Banque de France, Michelin, Naval Group, Capgemini, VINCI and Safran have all leapt at least eight places from the previous year.

On the engineering rankings, Groupe ADP, Fayat, Naval Group and Assystem all leapt by at least fifteen places since 2018. Other French employers that have made substantial gains on the engineering rankings include GFI Informatique, CEA, Nexity, Michelin and Bouygues Telecom, all of which jumped at least eight places in this year’s rankings.

Generation Paradox: Ethics vs. High Salaries

Since 2014 a trend has been developing among French talent that seen them place more focus on ethical standards when planning their careers. Today, one in three students think that ethics is an important topic, for example, “To focus on a cause or to feel that I am helping to make things better” remains a significant concern for 37% of students, especially those studying business.

This trend echoes the movement for an environmental awakening that was started by students at École Polytechnique last year and has since seen over 300,000 young people sign a call to action to boycott working for employers that don’t take a more active approach to combat climate change.

“This trend emerged four to five years ago, and it’s not slowing down. This goes hand in hand with the current societal phenomenon that has seen young French talent really question the ethical standards of employers in the country. The current generation is much more committed than the previous one on these themes ” comments Aurélie Robertet, Managing Director France / Benelux of Universum.

While over 25% of French students are generally attached to the “ethical principles” of companies, the data from this year’s survey show that these values are not necessarily applied when these young graduates actually choose an employer to work for.

“The Diversity and Inclusion Commitment”, for example, occupies the penultimate position among engineering school students,(only 9% consider this criterion attractive) and the last position among students in business schools (10%). On the other hand, the prospect of future high incomes is a decisive reason for choosing an employer, 56% of business students and 48% of engineering talent cite this as the number one reason for choosing an employer.

This contradiction is also felt in the most important attractiveness criteria for future graduates. When asked what will determine their choices based on 40 different criteria divided into four categories, ethical subjects are not even part of their top 20 prioritised principles.

Robertet, continued “We are witnessing a real paradox in France. Students are choosing companies that make them dream and not those that they consider to be more ethical. We cannot say that we are witnessing a shift in mindset yet, even if we assume that it will probably take place in the next few years. Their ethical awareness is strong but not a true priority.  Young people are focusing on the short term. Their priorities are to quickly establish good references for their career, to obtain a good base salary and to be able to take up challenges.”

France’s Top 10 Most Attractive Employers for Business and Engineering Students 2019

LVMH, L’Oréal Group, Google, Chanel, Apple, Air France and Amazon all managed to retain their respective top seven places from the previous year, while Disneyland Paris managed to climb one position to take over eighth place. Fellow climber, EY (Ernst and Young), managed to jump three positions since 2018 and now sits in ninth place, ahead of KPMG which also climbed this year to enter the top ten and take over the tenth place spot from Deloitte.



2. L’Oréal Group

3. Google

4. Chanel

5. Apple

6. Air France

7. Amazon

8. Disneyland Paris

9. EY (Ernst & Young)

10. KPMG

Mirroring this year’s business ranking, the engineering top ten is exceptionally stable with Airbus, Google, Thales, Safran, Dassault Aviation, Apple all managing to retain their respective top six positions from the previous year, while Microsoft managed to climb one spot to take over seventh place. Fellow climber, Air France, also climbed one position, pushing VINCI into ninth place. Dassault Systemes is this year’s tenth place holder after climbing one place since 2018.


1. Airbus

2. Google

3. Thales

4. Safran

5. Dassault Aviation

6. Apple

7. Microsoft

8. Air France


10. Dassault Systèmes

Click here to download the full ranking and find out more about the career goals and preferences of French talent

About Universum:

Universum, part of the StepStone Group, is a global thought leader in Employer Branding. With 30 years of valuable experience in the field of employer branding, we have established ourselves in 60 markets globally, and our diverse workforce is physically present in 20 countries. We are uniquely positioned through our talent surveys to deliver key insights to recruiters about what future talent is looking for in a company. Our expertise and ability to support retargeting and strong branding sees us engage with 65m people and work with 1500 campaigns every year. Our data-led, human and meaningful output has attracted 1,700 clients, including many Fortune 500 companies, as well as global media partners that publish our annual rankings and trend reports. Find out more at