Friday, October 15, 2010

What are leading companies doing in terms of employer branding?

What are leading companies doing in terms of employer branding? What are the new trends? What are the strategies used by companies to profile themselves in order to reach the talent market? Let me present the current trends that I have seen lately in Europe, Asia and US. In general, companies want measurable results for their efforts. Although still popular with traditional corporate presentations on campus, companies are adding more focused events for students. Many companies use one-on-one “marketing” earlier in the recruitment process. In addition to trends such as niche-specific recruitment marketing, employers are making better use of web sites and social media.

The strategies companies use to market themselves to respective target groups are more refined than they have been in the past. The financial crises put more pressure on HR and demand for ROI. Universum has identified a few trends in this area that showcase the best employer branding has to offer.

Event-based marketing
Although events have been a popular venue for employer branding for quite some time, the style and scope have changed in recent years. Traditional events where companies invite students to dinner and hold a corporate presentation is supplied with events that focus solely on recruitment. A recent survey from Universum conducted among 1000 companies shows that 63% are doing events in 2010. The activities during the event may include competitions that present a problem for the students to solve. Vestas in Denmark ( is a good example, inviting students from 10 – 14 countries each year to a 4-days event. With these competitions, both students and recruiters gain better perspective on one other; the students have a better understanding of what the position will entail and learn more about the company culture. The recruiters have more concrete information and insight into the applicants. Furthermore, companies are including line and senior managers much earlier in the recruitment process. “The idea is to make you feel special, and also give candidates the sense that the senior management at the company is actually going to care about their success. It’s a huge driver when you’re hiring at the undergraduate level or graduate level, definitely in the US, but also globally among the new generation (generation Y).

Moving online and to web 2.0
Just as consumer-marketing activities occur more often online than off, employer branding has started to follow suit and change its communication platform. Lately, many companies have moved their consumer marketing activities online, and the same idea is slowly trickling through to the employer-branding field. The same survey shows that 54% of the companies are planning to work with social media during 2010. They put up sites for fan clubs on Facebook, and it can became a cool sort of viral marketing. Now we’re seeing that this is starting to reflect in the employer-branding space. In the employer-branding area, some companies have also started using podcasting in their recruitment marketing practice as well, especially in the US and Asia.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Big 4 challenge Google’s position as the world’s most attractive employer

Universum released the global talent attraction index last week: “The World’s Most Attractive Employers 2010”, based on close to 130,000 career seekers, with a business or engineering background. Following the unprecedented world release in 2009, Google still manages to keep the no. one position, but this time facing growing competition from the big four auditing firms. In the business category, 2010 has been a good year for the auditing industry, as the top four companies now take four out of the top five places in the ranking. “We’re witnessing the auditing firms and FMCG companies reconquering their talent group after a brief love-affair with the IT industry”, said Michal Kalinowski, Universum’s CEO in an interview last week. On a less positive note, the companies in the Banking and Investment industry, Management Consulting, and Oil & Gas, now encounter the problem of being perceived as less attractive employers.

In the engineering category, however, the IT-sector companies continue to dominate: the top three employers
Google, Microsoft, and IBM—maintain their positions from last year. The notable changes are Japan’s Sony at no. four and Apple’s new entry. German car manufacturer BMW is still the most powerful employer brand in the automotive industry. In the top 10, where American corporations dominate, praise must also be given to Siemens for their 8th position.

World’s Top 10—Business
1. Google (1)
2. KPMG (8)
3. Ernst & Young (5)
4. PricewaterhouseCoopers (2)
5. Deloitte (10)
6. Procter & Gamble (6)
7. Microsoft (3)
8. The Coca-Cola Company (13)
9. J.P. Morgan (7)
10. Goldman Sachs (4)

World’s Top 10—Engineering
1. Google (1)
2. Microsoft (2)
3. IBM (3)
4. Sony (7)
5. BMW (4)
6. Intel (5)
7. General Electric (6)
8. Siemens (8)
9. Procter & Gamble (10)
10. Apple (new entry)

In parenthesis is the company’s position in 2009.

Go to

Lovisa Öhnell, Universum’s research and consulting director, commented about 2010’s index, “Firms in the professional services need to attract top talent to be successful; the auditing firms are aware of the challenges and spend a lot of resources in talent attraction and employer branding. Regarding the career seekers in the engineering field, potential hires find companies that are innovative and produce exciting products & services to be attractive employers nowadays”.

In a world where top performing employees are becoming a scarce commodity, finding the right people is critical for business success and stock market value. At a time where low birth and death rates are significantly shifting world demographics, the dilemmas of the 21st century are not only “Who will make up the workforce?”, yet more importantly “Who will own it?“ Universum’s global talent attraction index is based on the number of nominations by career seekers—in 12 of the world’s largest economies—for companies they would ideally like to work for. The relevance for companies: 1) This target group will soon graduate from top academic institutions and enter tomorrow’s workforce; 2) The index indicates the companies that are top-of-mind employers and to what extent; 3) These are the companies that have a competitive advantage in the “War for Talent”.

“Multinational corporations are increasingly aware of the current and future challenges of a shrinking workforce. To counter problems in securing their talent pipeline requires a talent attraction and employer branding strategy. The companies that will be able to draw this next generation of top talents are presented in Universum’s global talent attraction index 2010“, concluded Michal.

The index reveals some dramatic trends

When 70% of corporate value is from intangible assets (according to Accenture) and skill shortages are acute worldwide, being an attractive employer is critical to keep a sustained competitive advantage.

1. American multinationals increase their lead over the rest of the world.

Already in 2009 the American companies was the largest single group in the top 50 companies (20 among business students and 17 among engineering students – even not counting Big 4 and large management consulting firms as US organisations). This year the number is 24 for both lists.

“It seems that despite the challenges to the supremacy of the Anglo-Saxon capitalist model, the American corporations are increasingly the preferred destination for global top talent. They are often perceived as the true international organisations, where nationality will not stand in your way to the top”, said Michal.

“An interesting sign of things to come is that for the first time ever there is a Chinese company in top 50 – Lenovo nr 44 among engineers” commented Michal.

2. Employer Brands decoupled more and more from Corporate Brands.

Comparing the list of the most attractive employers with the list of most admired companies (by Fortune) or most valuable brands (by Interbrand), it is clear that extremely attractive employers do not depend as much on their consumer or corporate brands. The overlap between the rankings above and Universum’s global index is only half.

3. Companies that help talent develop the “me brand” are more attractive.

The world’s global talent are concerned about their own development and outside image. For that reason, they tend to choose companies that provide professional training and development, a good reference to a future career and organisations that have leaders who’ll support their development. The big 4 auditing firms just happen to be perceived by the talent group as fulfilling these important selection criteria.

4. Perception of industry and brand are interdependent.

Due to the banking and investment sector being perceived as responsible for one of the world’s largest economic meltdowns in history, employers in the industry have lost their appeal as a great place to kick-start one’s career. Management consulting companies have also dropped in the rankings, often linked to the banking and investment sector, and may have been perceived as part of the problem for past financial mismanagement. Due to public consciousness of environment issues companies in the Oil & Gas industry also face challenges to attract top talent and have also experienced a drop in the rankings this year.

About Universum’s Global Talent Attraction Index

The global top 50 is based on the frequency of being selected as an “Ideal Employer” by career seekers in the world’s 12 largest economies: U.S., Japan, China, Germany, France, U.K., Italy, Brazil, Spain, Canada, Russia and India. The target group is comprised of close to 130,000 career seekers, who are studying for degrees in one of the world’s reputed academic institutions.

About Universum
Universum is an international company that specialises in the field of employer branding*. Founded in 1988, its goal was to improve communication between students and the employers who want to recruit them. Today, Universum’s mission is to help employers excel in recruitment and retention by ensuring improvements to their employer brand. Universum delivers a full range of services in research, strategic consulting and communication solutions that enable employers to better understand, attract and retain current and future ideal employees. Universum is a trusted partner to 1,200 clients, including many Fortune 500 companies, and co-operates with 1,500 universities worldwide to conduct research on the career and employer preferences of top talent. On an annual basis, the company surveys approximately 400,000 students and professionals worldwide. For more information, go to
*Employer branding is the strategy companies use to appeal to desired current and future ideal talent.