Google Is No Longer the Most Attractive Employer Globally for Business Students

Universum, an employer branding firm, found Google was less attractive to business students surveyed this year compared to previous years, while Apple rose to the top of the list.

Pedestrians walk on a pathway outside of Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California.
Google is losing a bit of its luster.
Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Universum, a Sweden-based firm that focuses on employer branding, is out with new rankings that show Google (GOOGL)’s popularity among business students globally dropped for the first time in 13 years.

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Each year Universum surveys university students from the nine countries with the world’s largest economies who are studying business, engineering, and information technology (IT) to understand which employers they most want to work for. Google has consistently topped Universum’s list as the most attractive employer since it first launched in 2009, but dropped to number two among business students this year. Apple, which was ranked number three last year, edged out Google for the top ranking. Google still ranks number one for engineering and IT students, followed by Microsoft and Apple.

In recent months Google has started pulling back on employee perks like corporate travel, and encouraged team managers to keep social functions or offsite events virtual when possible. In September CEO Sundar Pichai said he wanted to make the company 20 percent more efficient, citing concerns about a downturn in ad spending and consumer spending. Though Google hasn't yet had sweeping layoffs, its parent company Alphabet (GOOGL) missed analysts' expectations when it reported earnings for the quarter ending in September, a slump driven in part by a nearly 2 percent decline in YouTube ad sales from the previous year. By contrast Apple was a rare bright spot in an otherwise disappointing round of tech earnings last week, reporting $90 billion in sales for the last quarter, up eight percent from 2021.

Despite Google's slight drop in Universum's rankings, big tech firms remain the top employers of choice for the more than 185,000 students surveyed by the company. In order to attract the best graduates, they'll have to continue to pay competitively, said Richard Mosley, Universum's global accounts director, in a statement. While work-life balance and flexible working conditions ranked higher in students' preferences this year compared to 2021, high future earnings still ranked number one. Preference for a competitive base salary ranked number three, up from number eight last year.

"University students prioritize compensation above all else — even above quality-of-life factors — so even in a soft economy, we expect starting salaries will need to remain competitive to recruit the best student talent," Mosley said.

Google Is No Longer the Most Attractive Employer Globally for Business Students