The Most Popular Companies for College Graduates (and What They’re Doing Right)

November 22, 2016

After graduating in the spring, a fresh new batch of new grads entered the “real world.” They’re hip, they’re cool (literally too cool for school now) and just about every company is trying to win them over.

But for many companies, the challenge is understanding what it is that will appeal to these new young professionals. And, many fear that what they are saying about their company might not engage this unknown group.

But, some companies have figured out what students want and what it takes to recruit them. And, to find out which companies are doing it right, we analyzed the LinkedIn profile data of millions of students in the US to find out the most popular companies that college graduates went into in 2016. Based on our findings, here are the top 10 companies for recent grads:

Ok yes, you probably aren’t surprised by the top 10 employers - they are big companies and are thus hiring a large number of students. However, they are also doing things right to make so many students want to work for them. And, we think we know what those things are.

What you need to know to attract to new grads to your company

Recently, we surveyed over 600 students globally to find out what attracts them to jobs and companies and what they really care about. Not only did we find out that 92% of them are interested in hearing from a recruiter, we also learned what information about a company they need to know to decide whether or not to work there. Here’s what they said, in order of importance:

  1. Company culture and values
  2. Employee perspective of the company
  3. Company perks and benefits
  4. Company mission and vision

Knowing this, we did some investigating into what the top companies listed above are doing to get that information in front of students. Turns out, they are doing a lot. And before we dive into exactly what they are doing, I want to point out that even though the top companies listed above are large, our survey revealed that 94% of students would work at a small business. So if you’re a little (but mighty) company, you can easily apply the following tactics to recruit more students.

1. PwC focuses on issues that are personally important to students

PwC is an accounting firm providing assurance, tax and advisory services and has over 223k employees. Now when you think about tax services, you probably don’t get excited. But after perusing through PwC’s website and social media, I can definitely see why so many students are excited to work there.

And that’s because they make their culture and values clear and actually talk directly to students about things that impact them. For example, they have this video series talking about how students can pay off student loans and have also created a student Challenge that over 5k students have joined to solve real business concerns and receive mentorship from PwC employees.

PwC also makes it clear how much they value diversity of both thought and background - something that is increasingly important to younger generations. The company does this by highlighting stories from employees on its careers site:

And its social media channels:

The company also highlights that job flexibility is built into its culture - something that is also extremely important to new grads. A large number of our survey respondents reported “flexible work hours” was one of the most important things to them in their new job. 

Make sure your company is also getting information about your culture and values in front of new grads.

2. EY provides employee perspectives across all of its social media channels

62% of our survey respondents say they want to hear employee perspectives. And EY, another accounting industry giant, doesn't slack on providing these perspectives. Employee stories are everywhere - LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, the company website, etc.

Here’s one that EY posted on instagram:

And, here’s a video featuring an EY employee talking about how the firm’s flexible workplace culture has helped him succeed both professionally and personally:

And, hearing from employees doesn’t stop there - EY also features videos from its employees giving advice to new recruits and answering questions like “What advice would you give an EY recruit for fitting in and finding her/his place in such a large organization?” to address any concerns.

Not matter how you do it (and there are a variety of ways) getting your employees to share their experience at the company will be huge for you recruiting efforts, as we’ve found that on average, a company’s employees have 10x more connections than the company has followers and people are 3x more likely to trust company information from employees than from the CEO.

3. Deloitte lists out 10 reasons you should want to work there, including perks and benefits

To get students to want to work for you, you have to ensure your company careers page answers this question: Why would someone want to work for you? And don’t just allude to it, lay the answer out directly.

Deloitte, for example, has a list of top 10 reasons to join the firm on its career site, featuring details on people and culture, work/life balance, well-being, learning and development, and more:

And, we know students care a lot about perks and benefits, as it comes in as the third most important thing they want to know about a company before deciding to work there. So, making the ones your company offers front and center is a must on your careers site.

And, Deloitte makes these perks and benefits clear across social media as well, including their excellent family leave policy:

And vacation and time off:

Obviously, not every company can afford all the perks in the world. But by highlighting to one’s you do provide, you’ll be more likely to peak students interest.

4. Lockheed Martin puts the spotlight on its company mission and vision

Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company with a mission to “solve complex challenges, advance scientific discovery and deliver innovative solutions to help our customers keep people safe.” And their vision is to “Be the global leader in supporting our customers' missions, strengthening security and advancing scientific discovery.”

This is an inspiring mission to say the least and Lockheed highlights it across various channels, like YouTube:

And Instagram:

If you aren’t putting your company mission and vision out there, start doing it today. Not only will it help you recruit future talent, it will also inspire your employees to remember why it is they do what they do. In fact, 58% of companies that clearly articulate their purpose saw growth of at least 10% in the last three years.

Final thoughts

You don’t have to a big company to attract students, but you should be very deliberate about the message you send to them. As mentioned, according to our Talent Trends survey data, we know that students care about culture and values, employee perspective, perks and benefits, mission and vision. Use the examples above to inspire you and find ways to highlight these across your website, social channels, and more. And of course, make sure your employees are helping you tell your story in order to get the next generation of talent in the door.


To create this list, we looked at the top 10 most popular entry-level jobs and companies that 2016 college graduates went into, in the U.S., based on the LinkedIn profile data of millions of students. The results of this analysis represent the world as seen through the lens of LinkedIn data. As such, it is influenced by how members choose to use the site, which can vary based on professional, social, and regional culture, as well as overall site availability and accessibility.

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