Companies around the globe are always on a quest to recruit the best and brightest university graduates. It makes sense too. Good graduates don’t just bring fresh talent and knowledge into the organisation, they also bring renewed enthusiasm and energy.
That rings just as true for the UAE as it does for anywhere else in the world. Despite a long history of recruiting from abroad, any company wanting to establish real roots needs to actively recruit from the country’s universities. It’s worth knowing then which of the country’s companies are most attractive to graduates and what makes them so attractive in the first place.
And a good place to start on that front is the most recent graduate recruitment report from regional recruiting outfit Gulf Talent.
The report is the result of a survey of over 300 recent graduates and final-year students at UAE’s American University of Sharjah (AUS), which hosts a mix of both expatriate and local students from all Emirates.
While the popularity of employers varies according to factors including field of study, gender and nationality, the study was able to nail down a final list of the companies graduates would most like to work for.
Each participant was asked to name the top 3 employers they would most like to work for after graduation.
No pre-compiled list of employers was presented to survey participants and they were asked to name their preferred employers themselves, without prompting.
We’ve isolated the top five and explored what might make them so popular (something which the Gulf Talent report didn’t do).
That food and beverages giant, Nestle, made it so high up the list is interesting given that it didn’t come out tops in any of the categories Gulf Talent looked at.
Rather than any standout perks or quirky, creative office spaces, Nestle’s appeal appears to lie in offering a working environment which encourages individual responsibility but which is also multi-cultural and offers the chance to engage across a variety of disciplines.
Another multinational (something which Gulf Talent notes is more popular with expat graduates than with Emiratis), GE, is the most popular choice for this year’s cohort of engineering graduates at AUS.
That shouldn’t be too surprising, especially when you take the company’s long history of technological innovation into account.
While employees at the company are entitled to a number of benefits, including unlimited vacation, health insurance, and a 401K plan, none of them seem to go above and beyond what a graduate can expect in the region.
Again, GE’s popularity is most likely down to the nature of the work on offer, as well as its reputation.
3. Chalhoub Group
Originally founded in Syria in 1955, the Chalhoub group is a distributor of luxury goods based in Dubai. Rated highest among female graduates at AUS, the company has a strong reputation for fostering career development and growth. It also has high-end offices and offers its employees a number of benefits, including health care, life insurance and discounts with 3rd party partners including car hire, insurance, travel and hotels.
Unilever regularly tops lists of most desirable companies to work for. In part, that’s because it’s so high profile and has worked so hard on its employer branding for so long.
Among the students surveyed by Gulf Talent, Unilever ranks highly across the board, being equally popular with business and engineering graduates.
Like Unilever, Emirates cuts across the divide and appeals to a diverse range of graduates, irrespective of their subject of study.
Interestingly though, it doesn’t appear in the top 10 desired companies among Emirati graduates. In fact, it’s more popular with expatriates than UAE nationals, despite being owned by the government of Dubai.
The airline has field-specific graduate programmes and, along with a competitive benefits package (including healthcare, travel concessions, and pension benefits), offers employees the opportunity to work in Dubai, or abroad.
Getting great graduates
While the AUS survey only covered a small portion of the graduating students in the UAE, it is interesting to see all the companies that made the top five are well established, with settled reputations.
It’s also interesting to note that as far as graduates are concerned, cool offices, great benefits, and flexible hours all matter less than a good brand reputation, opportunities for training and development, and the chance to do interesting work.
While you might not be able to fully compete with these companies when it comes to attracting top graduates, it is clear that you can do a good job without breaking the bank.