Employer Branding

How Businesses in Emerging Markets Can Attract Talent [STUDY]

Universum have revealed the latest findings in their Talent Insights Series, looking into what graduates in emerging markets look for in their career and how businesses can attract talent in these regions.

By ’emerging markets’ they refer to countries which are exhibiting a rate of GDP growth higher than the global average, however not as developed as economies such as the US, UK, Western Europe, China, and Japan. These regions are expected to hold a lot of power in the coming years and Euromonitor International stated that the emerging market economies will grow almost three times faster than developed ones, accounting for an average of 65% of global economic growth by 2020.

Countries involved in the survey included those across South America, Asia and Africa mainly and a full list can be found below.


The Talent Insights series aims to uncover what graduates are looking for in future employers and findings of their latest study has uncovered what business and engineering students in emerging markets consider their career goals to be, what qualities they look for in an employer and how they find out about job vacancies.

What are the top career goals in emerging markets?

Work-life balance:

The most important career goal mentioned among the graduates in emerging markets was work-life balance, however this differs in importance between regions. In North Africa, graduates prioritise being entrepreneurial or creative at work, over work-life balance. This could be held accountable to the high youth unemployment rates and targeted government initiatives designed to encourage entrepreneurialism and start-up culture.

Graduates in Turkey also rated work-life balance quite low in their priorities and place more importance on working in a leadership/managerial role and having the opportunity to be innovative at work. This may be due to Turkey’s weakening economy, which is encouraging the younger generation to seek out control and stability in their careers.


The opportunity to be entrepreneurial or innovative in a role was ranked as the second most important career goal among graduates in emerging markets.

It would appear that graduates in these regions are confident in their abilities and are not afraid of starting up their own business. In fact, 97% of Millennials surveyed in Sub-Saharan Africa said they were very or quite optimistic about their career outlook, compared to the global average of 84%.

Job security:

It came as a surprise that job security came in third, below work-life balance and innovation, which was expected to be more of a concern among those in emerging markets. It is understandable that security and reliability would have a significant influence on individuals who have grown up in countries with a high potential for economic and political instability.

What qualities do graduates in emerging markets look for in an employer?

A positive company culture

Findings of the study discovered that a creative and dynamic work environment is the most attractive quality for a potential employer. This, along with the findings that pinpointed work-life balance as one of the key career goals in emerging markets, suggests that the existence of work and life are merging, creating less of a distinction between the two.

Training and development

Around half of those involved in the survey listed the opportunity for further training and professional development as one of the most appealing factors to look for in a role. They also desire a leader who will encourage and support their development within the company. A previous Universum survey found that 85% of millennials want their job to become part of their identity and therefore strive to progress in their careers and become valued for their individual contributions in a company.

Where do graduates in emerging markets look for jobs?

Though a large number of graduates in emerging markets make efficient use of more contemporary sources, such as social media and company websites, a large percentage still turn to traditional sources to learn about job vacancies.

When advertising a role in an emerging market, it’s crucial for employers to make job seekers aware by advertising on billboards and TV, which can then be used to drive students to their organisation’s website and social media pages.

Many emerging markets in Africa, Asia and South America already have good access to an internet connection and therefore it is likely that a large number of Millennials in these countries make similar use of social media to young people in developed countries such as the UK and the US. Video is something that has become increasingly popular among young people over the recent years  and findings have discovered that consumers aged 13-24 spend 11.3 hours weekly watching free online video.

For this reason, employers should think about not only building a presence on traditional social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook, but also making use of visual networks like Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest.

What can employers do?

Work-life balance

Aspects such as work-life balance and the opportunity to be creative and innovative at work were both factors that graduates in emerging countries identified as being important to them when looking for a job and therefore it is important that employers create an environment that is fun and blurs the boundaries between work and home life. A couple of things that a lot of employers now offer are flexible working hours or the option to work from home, which allow employees to work around their personal commitments.

Training and development

The opportunity to receive professional training on the job is something that a large number of the surveyed graduates find attractive in an employer, so it’s a great idea for businesses to offer a structured training programme for new employees, which may even give them an edge on self-employment which a large number of graduates in emerging countries reportedly strive toward.