Student preferences across global markets

Student preferences across global markets

The Universum Student Surveys ask students to give preferences for employer attributes according to two levels. The highest level has four essential drivers of employer attractiveness, and respondents are asked to divide 100 points among them: employer’s Reputation & Image, Job Characteristics, People and Culture and its Renumeration & Advancement Opportunities.

Across the G12 countries, respondents in business and engineering deemed Renumeration & Advancement the most important. Global Stocksy_txp63b2bcd9tZA000_Medium_184198averages are skewed because students in certain countries placed a very high importance on this factor. A clear pattern emerges when looking at the per-capita GDPs of the countries versus the level of importance respondents placed on Renumeration & Advancement. The general relationship is that students in still-developing nations are more focused on this driver than those in developed nations. This means that in order to attract talent globally, firms should differentiate value propositions in different markets.

Differences in Renumeration

To further understand the degree to which employers should tailor to individual markets, we look at the Universum’s second framework. This breaks down the four drivers into 10 attributes within each, and survey respondents are asked to choose the three they feel are most important. “High Future Earnings” was one of the top preferences across all markets except for China where base salary and “softer” career advancement aspects ranked higher.

For some organizations, it makes sense to tweak which aspects of the employer value proposition are emphasized in each market. In other cases, however, it might be necessary to adapt to local preferences by altering recruiting programs or restructuring the way employees in a market are compensated


Looking across all 40 attributes, it is possible to compare the importance placed on each attribute by survey respondents in one country with that of their counterparts in another country. Generally, the results show that the United Kingdom, United States, Canada and Australia have much in common. Germany, France and Italy have some commonality and sometimes share more in common with the U.K. than with one another, while the Asian countries and Russia have very little in common with Western nations or with one another.

An understanding of these differences in students’ preferences across markets can ultimately help employers tailor messaging and make them more attractive globally. In addition to localizing the employer value proposition, however, firms also have to localize the channels they use to communicate.


For more data on the similarities and differences in student preferences across markets as well as other insights from The World’s Most Attractive Employers 2014 survey, don’t forget to download the white paper here.