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Hong Kong’s Most Attractive Employers 2019

By Universum on 22/05/2019

HKSAR Government remains the most attractive employer for Hong Kong’s future talent. However, this year’s survey shows graduates would prefer to work for international employers over local firms.

Hong Kong, 22nd May 2019 – Last week, Universum released the findings from the Hong Kong portion of its annual global talent survey. This year saw more than 6500 participating students from eight universities share their opinions and views on their career goals and ideal employers.  Set out to track the career aspirations and preferences of the future talent, Hong Kong’s Most Attractive Employers 2019 recognises the current most coveted employers based solely on the responses collected from the local talent pool.

In this year’s survey, among business, engineering and natural sciences students, HKSAR Government retains the top spot as the most attractive employer, a crown it has held for the past two years among business talent and past 5 years among engineering and natural sciences talent. Local champions HSBC and MTR Corporation follow Google among business and engineering students respectively.

Mike Parsons, managing director APAC for Universum, said; “Young talent in Hong Kong, although unique, posses many of the career attitudes and preferences intrinsic to the modern day Millennial. They’re more attracted to employers based on the employment experience and soft defining factors, such as the friendliness of the culture and working environment. Factors such as compensation, although important, are increasingly viewed as hygiene factors and non-differentiating. Employers who are serious about attracting the very best young talent really need to study the data and communicate the right things, in the right way, and through the right channels. Abstaining from key outreach platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, is no longer a neutral position and can have a negative impact on brand perception.”

Male vs. Female Expectations

The survey looks at the attributes of an employer that talent seek the most and prioritise when assessing future careers. This year’s survey shows that male students ranked high future earnings as their top employer attribute. This shows a big difference in preference from female students who ranked professional training & development, encouraging work-life balance and a friendly work environment as their top three most important attributes. With males more focused on salary than their female counterparts, therefore more likely to chase higher paying roles and make career decisions more based on pay, this will make it harder to bridge the gender pay divide in Hong Kong.

Graduates’ Most Preferred Choice

The idea of wanting to work for an international company over a local employer continues to be the graduates’ most preferred choice after graduation. This is clearly reflected in the Top 100 Business rankings as six out of the top 10 companies are international organisations.

May Chung, General Manager at Nestlé Hong Kong said; “It is our great honor to be listed on Universum’s Hong Kong’s Most Attractive Employers 2019 rankings. Driven by our purpose of enhancing quality of life and contributing to a healthier future, Nestlé creates long-term value for consumers, shareholders, communities as well as our employees. We believe our people are our greatest asset, and uphold a culture based on values rooted in respect: for ourselves, others, diversity and the future. At Nestlé, we see it essential to foster open and effective two-way communications with our people across the organization. What also important is to help them achieve their full potentials through cultivating and rewarding a ‘go beyond’ spirit. The listing not only serves as a strong acknowledgement for our belief in our people, but it also encourages us to go further with our innovative efforts in creating a workplace where our people will love and grow in.”

Staying consistent with previous years, the banking industry remains the most preferred destination for business students. However, what is more interesting is the increasing interest in the banking industry among the engineering and natural sciences students. This would reinforce the recent trend of more and more banks and FSI employers, especially those who are going through a digital transformation, focusing their efforts on communicating with and recruiting more STEM talent. This data shows that their outreach is having an impact on this talent segment.

Key Career Goals

When asked about their key career goals, the students surveyed still, unsurprisingly, selected work/life balance as their top career goal. More interesting, though, is that this year’s survey shows an increase in students wanting to work for an organisation that allows them to feel they are having an impact or serving a greater good. There has been a lot of talk in recent years of the emergence of purpose, and how young talent seek it out in their career – something this year’s study would reinforce. Savvy companies who are able to define their purpose and who can give a clear and compelling mission to their employees will find themselves in a stronger position to attract top talent.

International banks vs. Local banks

While this year international banks saw a drop in the business ranking positions, local banks strive in the rankings with Hang Seng Bank (+11), HSBC (+2) and Bank of East Asia (+2) being some of the biggest gainers. This is partly due to students viewing local banks as being better at providing a friendly work environment compared to international banks.



1. HKSAR Government

2. Google


4. J.P. Morgan

5. EY (Ernst & Young)

6. PwC

7. Cathay Pacific Airways

8. Deloitte

9. Morgan Stanley

10. Apple


1. HKSAR Government

2. Google

3. MTR Corporation

4. Cathay Pacific Airways

5. Apple

6. Airport Authority Hong Kong

7. Ocean Park

8. Microsoft

9. Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI)

10. Hospital Authority

Click here to download the full ranking and find out more about the career goals and preferences of Hong Kong’s talent market

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