The Rise of the Local Employer Brands: Why Domestic Firms are Becoming a Source of Pride for Homegrown Talent - Universum Skip to main content

The Rise of the Local Employer Brands: Why Domestic Firms are Becoming a Source of Pride for Homegrown Talent

By Universum on 13/02/2018

One of the best things about being involved in Universum (or likely any analyst firm or research company) is that after a year, five years, a decade, you start to notice more than short-term trends, and can see past the winners or losers of a specific industry or category for that one year.

Obviously it’s part of our entire reason for being, to determine what has happened and make educated guesses about what might happen based on comprehensive and historical data. Since we work with some of the youngest people in the workforce (we often survey well into Gen Z to learn about career expectations), we can often pinpoint a shift well before it actually hits the workforce.
Case in point? Just ten years ago, in China we saw their was an incredible desire among talent to work for international companies. Back then, snagging an international job was considered very prestigious by Chinese grads. From our data you can see students thought a job with an international company meant they would learn faster and rise through the ranks more quickly. However in our most recent report, Chinese students listed Chinese companies as the most attractive in 30 of 40 possible slots.

We seem to be at the dawn of a new era, where more and more local champions and companies are emerging. Why? One obvious reason is that many companies in China are becoming very successful. Alibaba, one of the most successful and ubiquitous names in the world, is seen as an employer of choice for students graduating in China. In short, those entering the workforce don’t need to look outside these particular markets to find successful and prestigious careers and feel they can rise just as quickly and learn just as much in their country.
What’s more is that while few would still consider China as an “emerging market” these trends have been shifting since the 80s and 90s in many countries that we might slap that moniker on. This is truly a long-term trend that is repeating itself as economies mature. While the researchers here at Universum continue to unearth the root causes, my bet is that pride in their own country plays a large part in this shift in attitude.

Huawei is another fantastic example of a Chinese firm that is going from win to win and achieving popularity among talent, both internationally and at home. Thanks to Huawei’s ability to attract top engineering and IT talent, the Chinese multinational networking and telecommunications firm, debuted on 2016’s WMAE ranking at number 57 and followed this up a year later by placing 47th. Huawei continues to be one of biggest global filer of internationals patent applications, and last year it surpassed Apple as the world’s second largest smartphone maker. I believe these massive achievements will strengthen Huawei’s attractiveness among STEM talent and we will continue to see them climb the rankings at a rapid pace.

At Universum, this aligns itself with the idea that this generation wants to impact the world around them. Maslow was right, in a sense, when he created the hierarchy of needs, and it is impacting students and how they search for work. In developing economies, survival is of the essence. As countries begin to mature, money, prestige, management and benefits all bubble to the surface as important. In emerging economies that was matured, we see the goals shift for students to purpose, balance and impact. Part of the impact, is giving back to their own communities and putting down roots in their home countries.

The phrase “The war for talent is over, and talent won”, is certainly applicable to this shift in the mindset of talent in many countries that Universum assesses. There once was a time when simply being an overseas employer would have peaked the interest of local talent anywhere you set up shop, however those days are long gone! If foreign employers are to survive and compete for talent against the rise of local employer brands they must act quickly to localize their EVP’s. Locally grown companies may always have a leg up in appealing to national pride, but foreign multinationals can still develop authentic, attractive employer brands by devoting resources to understanding and building from the local culture and priorities with a localized EVP.