Compensation Remains #1 Factor for Students Choosing New Jobs - Universum Skip to main content

Compensation Remains #1 Factor for Students Choosing New Jobs

By Universum on 11/10/2023

Research from Universum shows students are focused on pay and training/development above all other factors – a flight to traditional career priorities in an uncertain global economy.

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN, Oct 11th, 2023 – The 2023 World’s Most Attractive Employers (WMAE) rankings this year favors companies that can offer high future earnings, competitive pay, and professional training and development. And though not ranked as highly, work-life balance and flexible working conditions continue to be rising priorities for students.  

“The 2023 WMAE rankings showcase hard-won wins by traditional employer brands like JP Morgan and Mercedes Benz, both of which gained significant ground this year” says Yusuf Azoz, Chief Executive Officer, Universum. “In our experience, winning companies have a well-defined employer brand, a clear and convincing offer, and they tune their message to unique candidate groups.”  

Universum, the global leader in employer branding, surveyed over 172,000 students in business, engineering, and IT from the 9 largest economies between October 2022 to May 2023. The much-anticipated survey asks students which employer attributes matter most when considering a future employer, as well as which employer brands they most admire.  

Among other noteworthy findings from the research:  

Apple and Google retain their top ranking spots in 2023. Business students choose Apple, Google and JP Morgan more than any other employer brand; engineering students favor Google, Microsoft and BMW Group; and IT students rank Google, Microsoft and Apple in their top three.  

Facebook continues its tumble – now occupying #35 for business students (down 6 points), #34 for engineering students (down 10 points), and #18 for IT students (down 3 points).  

Tesla, despite its reputation as a challenging place to work, raced up the rankings in 2023. It appeared for the first time in the business student rankings at #38, scored #16 among engineers (up 10 points), and #19 for IT students (up 9 points).  

Commitment to DEI and gender equality is lower in 2023. The research shows the lower scores are likely due to a reshuffling of priorities, including a greater emphasis on compensation, job training, and quality-of-life priorities.  

Flexible working and work-life balance are even more important in 2023 – a continuation of a multi-year rise for both of these key attractors. Given that companies are still struggling to hire skilled workers, employers will likely continue to make concessions about work-life balance and flexibility when they hire university students.  

Universum Global Account Director Richard Mosley says the 2023 study offers a unique look at the real-life trade-offs students make when they choose their first employer:  “This year we examined what students say they look for in a future employer, versus what they actually choose in real-life … and the results are fascinating. Quality of life factors like flexible working and work-life balance are both stated priorities for young people, but our research shows students are willing to ‘trade’ these for other, more important factors such as higher pay or good references. Companies that limit quality of life factors like flexibility, however, do so at their peril because it is highly correlated with employee engagement and retention.”  

To download a copy of the World’s Most Attractive Employers report, which includes detailed insights about industry preferences, ideal employer brand attributes, and rankings, click here.

About Universum 

Universum, part of the StepStone Group, is a global thought leader in Employer Branding. With over 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 an employer. 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 

Media Contacts: 

Jonas Barck                                                          


+46 706 933 388  

Talent Insights

Do you wish to better understand your brand image, audience and competitors?

Every year Universum surveys over 1 million students and professionals worldwide to identify the brand image status of the most attractive employers. Our Analytics solutions give you the insights you need to win the war for talent.