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Google is most-sought employer -- again

College students pick Google for third straight year; IBM, Intel, Microsoft and Apple also make list of most attractive employers

If you're a college student and want to work for Google, you're definitely not alone.

For the third year in a row, more business and engineering students say they want to work at Google than any other company, according to Universum's annual World's Most Attractive Employers study.

Other tech companies, including Microsoft, Apple, IBM and Intel, also were cited as sought-after employers, according to Universum, which specializes in what it calls employer branding.

"For the last three years, we have been seeing Google leading the pack, said Lovisa Ohnell, head of Research and Consulting at Universum. "It will take a strong player with a clear talent strategy to steal this number one spot."

Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research, said Google's place atop the list isn't surprising.

"It's a young and cool company," said Gottheil. "It's also an engineering-centric company. Larry Page is an engineer, or a computer scientist really, which is a kind of super-engineer. Cook and Balmer are not, and neither was Jobs."

And it doesn't hurt, added Gottheil, that Google has a reputation as a fun place to work.

"It's serious, but wilder," he said. "What you do, and what you make, are more constrained at Apple and Microsoft. They're constrained internally by the organization and its processes, and externally by the companies' positions in the market."

Universum did two surveys - one of people seeking jobs in business and another for those looking for engineering positions. Google came out as the most attractive employer for both categories.

For the business category, Google was trailed by Microsoft in the number 6 spot and Apple in the number 9 spot.

And for the engineering category, Google was followed IBM, which bumped Microsoft from second place. Microsoft was the third most attractive engineering workplace, followed by Intel at number five, Sony at number six and Apple at number seven.

"The software industry is highly dependent on its human capital, hence the efforts to attract and retain the brightest minds in the world," said Carlo Duraturo, a global account director at Universum.

"There's a new working-culture paradigm today - the relaxed and creative office - and part of it we owe to this industry. Generation Y feels very comfortable working in this new environment and it's clearly reflected in the attractiveness of the software industry," he added.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin , or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is [email protected] .

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