U.S. young talent chose their ideal employers in 2021 - Universum Skip to main content

U.S. young talent chose their ideal employers in 2021

By Universum on 09/09/2021

New York, September 9th, 2021

Universum presented today its annual ranking “The Most Attractive Employers of the United States” revealing the findings for the U.S. portion of its global Universum Talent Research 2021 survey. This year Universum’s data is based on responses from 51,247 students interested in 159 fields of study from 310 universities across the country. Universum’s report also includes Ideal Employer rankings, segmented by field of study. Findings from this data allow employers to understand in which ways they’re succeeding in graduate recruitment and retention, as well as how to adapt to the changing preferences of their future workforce.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Young talent is considering a record number of employers.
  • Remote work interest is very attractive to young talent, though missing out on socializing and making connections with coworkers is a concern.
  • While high future earnings potential remains a high priority, secure employment is the top attribute young talent considers while job searching in 2021.
  • Salary expectations are increasing.

This year, the technological giants continue capturing the attention of Business students; however, Google is losing ground to companies like Tesla, J.P. Morgan and Amazon. This is the first time in years that we are seeing less students selecting Google as ideal. As expected, it was also a big year for industries such as Pharmaceutical/Biotechnology and the Public Sector across the board in Business, Engineering and Computer Science. Interestingly, the Video Game industry experienced some nice gains.

Students are considering a record number of employers which continues to prove that it is a candidates’ market. On average, students are considering 32 employers; computer science students are considering 51 (compared to 37 in 2017).

Salary expectations trending up

In 2021 young talent are entering the workplace with higher expectations than in years past, despite the economic uncertainty brought by the Covid-19 pandemic. Salary expectations of students in the U.S. continue to increase, although at a little slower rate compared to previous years. On average, students expect $67,742 USD per year: a 2% growth compared to 2020. The Male-Female salary expectations gap has increased slightly, with female students expecting 12% less salary than their male counterparts (compared to 11% in 2020). This gap varies by field of study and Tech students have the narrowest gap at 2%.

Did Covid-19 continue to affect talent’s preferences?

The impact of the pandemic reflects in the increased importance of job security among American students. Despite already being an important attribute in 2020, attractiveness of a secure employment continued to increase, positioning as the most important attribute among American students from all fields.

But the impact of a tumultuous 2020 not only influenced young talent in this regard, it also shifted concerns and values for young talent. In 2021, we see a continued trend of soft attributes such as Ethical standards, Respect for people, Support for gender equality and Commitment to diversity and inclusion rising among all students in the U.S.

A desire to work remotely

As more employers commit to remote or hybrid work models, young talent is expecting to have the option to work remotely as the new normal. 75% of surveyed students said they were interested in remote opportunities, though that does come with some concerns, the top being missing out on socializing and making connections with coworkers. Also high on the list of concerns were the possibility of missing out on higher earning opportunities and potential bias toward in-person employees.

A big year for Pharmaceutical and Video Game

The industries with the biggest increase in interest were Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology and Public Sector across the board in Business, Engineering and Computer Science. For Engineering and Computer Science students, the Video Game industry experienced a historical pick-up gaining all-time record positions. On the other end, it was not a great year for the Passenger Transportation industry, an expected trend giving the travel restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Top 10 Most Attractive Employers in the U.S. according to talent in different fields of study:

RankBusinessEngineeringComputer Science
3TeslaNational Aeronautics and Space
Administration (NASA)
4J.P. MorganLockheed MartinTesla
5The Walt Disney CompanyBoeingAmazon
9Goldman SachsNorthrop GrummanSpotify

Similar to what we’re seeing in other markets, Tesla has climbed in the U.S. rankings among Business and Computer Science, jumping up five positions to #3 in Business, one spot to #4 in Computer Science), and dropped one position to #2 in Engineering. Google still maintains top positions in Business and Computer Science.

Notable risers and newcomers

Pfizer increased the most in attractiveness from 2020 for Engineering jobs, rising by 64 positions in attractiveness to #23. Unity Technologies made the cut for the first time in Universum’s Ranking taking the position #74 for Computer Science students, while ZARA, debuted at the #39 ranked spot for Business.

Talent Insights

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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 a company. Our data-led, human and meaningful output has attracted more than 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 www.universumglobal.com.