Big Four dominate student ranking of top global employers

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Students around the world have placed the Big Four accounting firms atop a ranking of the world’s top 50 most attractive employers, bested only by Google in the coveted No. 1 spot.

Stockholm-based Universum, an employer branding company, asked nearly 130,000 business and engineering students to identify their ideal employers. After Google, which took the top spot for the second year in a row, the rankings show KPMG, Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Deloitte in the Nos. 2 through 5 spots, respectively.

Rounding out the Top 10 are Procter & Gamble, Microsoft, The Coco-Cola Company, J.P. Morgan, and Goldman Sachs, which slipped from No. 4 to No. 10. Students surveyed were from the United States, China, Japan, Germany, France, UK, Italy, Brazil, Spain, Canada, Russia, and India.

Universum said its index highlights the world’s “most powerful employer brands,” with companies that excel in attracting and keeping new hires. Companies that help their employees develop the me brand are attractive to job seekers.

“For that reason, they tend to choose companies that provide professional training and development, a good reference to a future career, and organizations that have leaders who’ll support their development. The Big Four auditing firms just happen to be perceived by the talent group as fulfilling these important selection criteria,” the company said in a news release.

According to, accounting firms ranked high on the list not only because of their training programs, but also because “they have been on a hiring tear when jobs for college grads have otherwise been difficult to come by.”

KPMG moved from No. 8 to No. 2 on the index at a time when it recruited approximately 15,000 graduates around the world. Rachel Campbell, Global Head of People, KPMG International, said students benefit from the firm’s learning and development programs that provide technical, business, and leadership skills. “Graduates are also attracted by opportunities we offer such as our Global Mobility Program that enables them to take on assignments all around the world,” Campbell added.

Deloitte, which moved up five places to No. 5 on the list, views itself as a career accelerator. That’s according to Kent Kirch, the firm's global director of talent acquisition and mobility, who told that hard-working, deserving employees can advance rapidly. Hiring has slowed slighting during the economic downturn, but the firm plans to make approximately 250,000 new hires globally over the next five years.

PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the largest employers of college graduates in the United States, gives its new hires ongoing coaching and mentoring, as well as formal training. The firm’s client service professionals receive a minimum of 100 hours of learning and education annually, said Bob Daugherty, partner and U.S. Sourcing Leader.

Universum found that students liked employers they perceived as providing a good work-life balance, bringing Ernst & Young to the No. 3 spot. The firm is flexible, allowing employees to work reduced hours at a pro-rated salary or to work from home on certain days. "We want employees to be as successful at home as they are at work", Dan Black, Americas director of campus recruiting, told

Companies in the banking and investment industry, management consulting, and oil and gas are losing their attractiveness as employers, the index showed.

Susan Black, a blogger at, writes, “Yes, stodgy old accounting firms are considered the most attractive employers in the entire planet. Move over, Goldman Sachs, Coke, P&G, JP Morgan, Microsoft, BMW, and McKinsey – none of them make the top 5. Accounting and tax are hot now!”

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