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Researching employers? What the most popular brands want you to know

Here are three statements, from Google, Goldman Sachs and Apple. Can you match them to the right company?

A ‘X is not a conventional company, and we don’t intend to become one.’
B ‘Dedicated to the empowerment of man, helping change the way we work, learn and communicate.’
C ‘Our business is highly competitive, and we aggressively seek to expand our client relationships.’

Here are your answers: A Google, B Apple, C Goldman Sachs.

For a bonus point, who said this?

‘Our mission is to be the earth’s most customer-centric company… it’s the job of every person in this company to reinforce the culture, including me.’

Answer: Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.

What makes a graduate employer popular?

All these statements were included in a presentation given by Rita Clifton, the former UK chair of the brand consultancy Interbrand, at the TARGETjobs Breakfast News event held in London last week. Rita explained that the most popular employers are sought after because they have a clear, strong, consistent brand which comes across in everything the company does. She told the audience of graduate recruiters that all strong people brands share five characteristics:

  • Distinctive stance and reputation as an employer
  • Evokes both emotive and tangible benefits
  • Built into and brought to life by company policies, procedures and practices
  • Consistently communicated in company actions and behaviours
  • Modelled by leadership

Here are some more examples of statements Rita picked out from the employers mentioned above that help to convey their distinctive brands:

Apple: ‘Man is the creator of change in this world and should not be subordinate to machines or systems.’
Google: ‘Work should be challenging and the challenge should be fun… To that end, Google’s culture is unlike any in corporate America, and it’s not because of the whimsical lava lamps and large rubber balls, or the fact that one of the company’s chefs used to cook for the Grateful Dead.’
Goldman Sachs: ‘The dedication of our people to the firm and the intense effort they give their jobs are greater than one finds in most other organisations.’

You can see slides from Rita’s presentation, along with the rest of the presentations from the February Breakfast News event, on the Breakfast News website.

Researching company culture

When you research an employer for an internship or graduate scheme application, try to be mindful of the impression created by its website and the way it presents itself both to potential recruits and to the general public. Thinking analytically about how companies are trying to come across will make it easier for you to work out if, and why, you would be a good fit.

This is the fundamental question that will underpin much of what you’re asked on the application form and at interview, so it’s well worth giving it careful consideration. You’ll find the potted guides to company culture and values in our employer hubs a useful starting point.