5 Traits Shared by the Most Attractive Companies to Work For

June 21, 2016

After analyzing how our 433 million members interact with companies on our site, we at LinkedIn released a list this week naming the most attractive companies to work for. In short, these are the companies that professionals were most eager to apply to and the companies that best retained the people they did hire.

The list featured an eclectic mixture of organizations, ranging from Google to Unilever to Johnson & Johnson, with Apple topping the list. Clearly, one thing they all shared is they know how to build an employer brand.

But, beyond just that, we wanted to see what other qualities they shared. Specifically, we wanted to identify the attributes that make a company attractive to work for to professionals.

So, we looked at the companies and determined five traits that they all have in common. They are:

1. They openly discuss how demanding working at their company is.

As mentioned, Apple was discovered to be the most attractive company to work for by professionals. And yet, throughout their career page, they discuss how high the expectations are for their employees, flatly stating that “a job at Apple will be demanding.”

That trend continued for just about every company on the list. There is perhaps no better example than Amazon, which despite having a high-profile New York Times article detailing how demanding the company is on its employees last summer, saw applications increase by 25 percent this year.

The takeaway? If you think people want an easy job they can breeze through, you’re wrong. Instead, people want to be challenged at work.

2. Many have a highly selective interview process.

Not only did many of these companies talk about how difficult the job will be once you get it, but also how difficult it is to get a job there in the first place. For example, Uber – found to be the seventh-most attractive company to work for – reportedly has a grueling interview process that can include a 32-question math test.

Why is this seen as a positive to professionals? It means that these companies are legitimately committed to hiring the best, which means great talent works there. And few things are more attractive to a professional than working with the best.

3. They have perks that exceed the standard benefit package, particularly for new parents.

Despite these companies having highly selective interview processes and being demanding, nearly all of the employers on the list had benefit packages that exceed the boilerplate package of 10 vacation days a year and medical coverage. For example, Google was fourth on the list, and is known for having outstanding benefits like unlimited free food and free shuttles to work.   

The one perk in particular we saw again and again on the list is paid leave for parents. For example, Johnson & Johnson – which was 10th on the list – offers eight weeks of paid parental leave to mothers and fathers alike.

So, yes, the best employers expect their people to work hard. But they also are understanding and work with their employees to help them balance their family and work lives.

4. They strive to give real meaning to the work they do.

Something we saw again and again in these top companies is that they strive to do more than just make a profit. Nearly all of the most desirable companies to work for talk about the impact they have in the world, and explain how working for them truly makes the world a better place.

There’s no better example than Unilever, which was found to be the eighth-most attractive company to work for in the world. Unilever owns hundreds of brands, from Dove soap to Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, but unites them under one value: purpose.

“We’re proof that HR can have a really special relationship with marketing and vice-versa,” Unilever Vice President of Global Talent and Resourcing Stephen Lochhead said at his keynote at Talent Connect London. “At Unilever, we have a really simple philosophy: when you bring people and brands together under the banner of purpose, ordinary people can achieve some extraordinary things.”

Pretty straightforward takeaway here – people want to do work that matters.

5. They prioritize creating a culture of learning.

Much like how all these companies declared they were demanding, almost all of them prioritized learning in a major way. Some examples:

  • Coca-Cola and PepsiCo (which were ninth and 14th on the list, respectively) both have their own internal universities that give junior employees the skills they need to move up the ranks.
  • More than 2,000 employees at Google have taught a class to their fellow employees, covering everything from coding to mindfulness to how to dance at a wedding.
  • Microsoft (sixth on the list) has more than 2,000 training programs and works with employees to build out their own internal career paths.
  • Shell (16th on the list) has a lauded program for new graduates that includes continual rotations and training for up to five years.

And on and on and on. Bottom line, people want to work for a company that is going to make them better.

Tying it all together

Boiling it down, there are clearly some qualities professionals are going to find very attractive in an employer. Professionals want a challenging job, but a job that is still respective of their personal life. They want to work with great people. They want a place where they can continually improve and advance their career. And they want work that’s meaningful.

Companies ­from all industries made the list because they exhibited those qualities. If you would like to attract and retain the absolute best people, you’d be smart to exhibit them as well.

Want to learn how to build a culture of learning at your company? Download our free guide to doing exactly that.