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India’s Economic Stability and Growth Creates a Shift in Career Preferences 

By Universum on 26/06/2019

A Work/life Balance Remains Indian Talents’ Top Goal When Seeking Employment

STOCKHOLM, 26th June 2019 –  Last week Universum launched the findings from the Indian portion of its annual global talent survey, which includes the opinions and preferences of over 24,000 students from India’s leading universities. Set out to track the career aspirations and preferences of India’s future talent pool, India’s Most Attractive Employers survey recognises the most coveted employers based solely on the responses collected. Maintaining it’s dominance over the past few years, Google topped the list as the most ideal employers for India’s business and commerce, engineering and IT, and MBA students.

Employer Preferences

The survey sheds light on the students’ preferred industries to work in after graduation. The findings show that MBA students favour management & consulting, investment banking, and FMCG industries. MBA students’ preferences differed to those of undergraduates, 40% of whom indicated a preference for the auditing and accounting industries.

Students in India are still highly attracted to international employers, with 46% of all students expressing a desire to work for an international company when asked. This is also reflected in the Top 100 employer rankings among business talent, where nine of the top ten most desired employers were international companies. Female business/commerce and engineering/IT students presented an interesting contrast, however, as a higher proportion expressed a desire to work for a national organisation, as compared to male students. Companies who can showcase workplace diversity in their employer brand will have a higher success rate in securing top female talent.

Top Career Aspirations & Goals

The survey shows that business and commerce students prioritise an employer who will lead them to “high future earnings” when assessing their preferred destination upon graduation. This stands in contrast to those who come from an engineering and IT orientation, who prioritise a friendly work environment and innovation as their top two most important attributes when assessing potential employers.

In terms of their career goals, this is the first year that “Work/Life Balance” was the most chosen – knocking to have “an International Career” off its long-held top spot. In almost all other regional and global markets work/life balance has sat atop the list of career goals for many years among millennial talent. This could indicate a turning point among talent in India who are starting to see opportunities within their domestic market that are able to offer them the careers they dream of.

Mike Parsons, Managing Director, Universum APAC said, “This is the third successive year that “to have work/life balance” has been selected more than it was the year before, and the first year that it supersedes “to have an international career” as the number one most desired career goal among talent at India’s top universities. At the same time “to have an international career” is being selected less. One thing this shift does is bring the career preferences of millennial talent in India more in line with their regional and international counterparts. For employers who don’t offer much in the way of international opportunity, but who do boast flexible working conditions, a dynamic culture, or other elements connected with work/life balance, this could help elevate their brand. However, this doesn’t mean it’ll get easier for domestic players to compete with international employers for top talent – the hunger to work for non-domestic employers in India is as hot as ever.”

“The shift in career preferences is in-line with economic stability and growth that India has seen over the years. This confidence in the market is further strengthened with the recent election results and as India prepares for the next chapter of transformation and growth journey it is no surprise that Indian graduates’ preferences are getting more aligned with preferences of graduates in developed economies,” added Pratik Sabherwal, Regional Head of Advisory, Universum APAC.

Students’ Choice of Communication Channel

Students are also asked about the communication channels they use to learn about potential employers and how they gather information and make a decision as to who they’re going to apply for. Like their international peers, talent in India receive most employer information from social media, rather than career fairs or employer websites. This data has shown clearly, in many markets around the world, that employers can no longer resist being on key social media platforms and that their absence is now a hindrance to their ability to attract top talent.

This year, the survey also dug deeper into the specific social media channels that students use to inform themselves about employers. LinkedIn was the top-ranked channel used by MBA students, whereas business/engineering students listed Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp as their top three channels.
Top 10 IDEAL Employers among Business and Engineering are as follows:


1. Google

2. EY (Ernst & Young)

3. Deloitte

4. Apple


6. Amazon

7. Microsoft

8. J.P. Morgan

9. Goldman Sachs

10. State Bank of India


1. Google

2. Microsoft

3. Apple

4. Amazon

5. BMW Group

6. Facebook

7. L&T

8. Infosys

9. Audi

10. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS)


1. Google

2. Amazon

3. Apple

4. Deloitte

5. J.P. Morgan

6. Microsoft

7. McKinsey & Company

8. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS)

9. BMW Group

10. Facebook

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