College students are making it a priority: They want to keep their employment options open.
According to a recent survey from Universum, an employer brand research firm, the average student is now considering working for more companies than any time in the past five years. Universum surveyed more than 46,000 undergraduate students with a variety of majors from around the country for its 2014 Ideal Employer rankings.
The firm reported this recent trend might be sparked by growing confidence in the economy among millennials. It also might have something to do with a growing number of employers making their way to campuses across the country to recruit the top talent.
Melissa Murray Bailey, president of Universum Americas, believes this could help smaller, lesser known companies attract more students due to the higher probability of being considered to employ.
"One of the biggest challenges employers face right now is differentiating themselves from their competition," Bailey said. "Because students are so open-minded about their employers, it's more important than ever for employers to stand apart from the crowd."
Some companies still attracting big-time numbers
Google and Walt Disney remain high on the wish list for many undergraduates in a variety of fields.
Approximately 20 percent of the nearly 16,000 business students surveyed had Google in their top five most-wanted employer lists. Walt Disney wasn't very far behind, coming in on the wish lists of 14 percent of business students. Kevin Troy, head of research and insights for Universum Americas, said an esteemed consumer brand, a positive employer image and the size of its recruiting effort has given those companies a step up.
Bailey added that Google's candor regarding job expectations appeals to millennial students.
"As the competition for top talent grows increasingly fierce, it's more important than ever for employers to be proactive about building brands to attract the right people," she said. "Through the survey data, employers can gain insights about the preferences of their target group and leverage that information to build a message that resonates. These rankings celebrate the employers that have made deliberate investments in their employer brand."
Of five student categories - business students, engineering students, computer science students, natural science students and those studying humanities - Google topped the employer wish list twice and Walt Disney once. Google was the preeminent choice for business and computer science students. Walt Disney was the premier destination for humanities students. Meanwhile, Boeing topped the list among engineering students and National Institutes of Health came in atop the list for natural science students.
What millennials want in the work place
The 2014 survey revealed students wanted to stay at their first jobs longer than results from the past few years. Results showed 47 to 64 percent of students expected to stay five years or longer at their first job, a six percent increase compared to the last three years.
"The Millennial generation is perceived as one that isn't loyal to their employers, staying at their jobs for only 1-2 years," Bailey said. "However, the students taking our survey tell us differently. What we often see is a mismatch between students' expectations and the actual experience as the reason they end up leaving an organization relatively quickly. It is imperative for employers to develop and communicate a strong and true employment value proposition."
In terms of career goals, respondents stated they wanted a healthy balance between their work and social life, and they also said job security and being dedicated to the cause were major reasons they chose a particular employer.
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