If a company plans to attract engineering graduates, it must be perceived as an innovative company that offers the most exciting products on the market, according to the results of a new survey.


Universum, a global research and advisory firm specializing in employer branding, recently polled engineering graduates interested in manufacturing throughout 13 countries—including Brazil, China, UK, U.S. and the United Arab Emirates. The intent was to identify which attributes engineering students find most attractive in a potential employer.


Engineers have spent years in school and have generated large amounts of debt to learn how to make things better, Universum notes. These engineers want to continue that path of learning and exploring in their professional lives. Companies that are innovative and build exciting products are the most likely to offer the opportunities that engineers value, and therefore can easily attract young engineers, a Universum report explains.


I was interested in those survey results because they reminded me of the fourth annual Millennial Survey, released by Deloitte Global earlier this year. That survey found that to attract Millennials, businesses should focus on people and purpose, not just products and profits.


Deloitte Global’s survey of Millennials (ages 18-34) from 29 countries, asked questions about effective leadership, how business operates and impacts society. Interestingly, Millennials (75 percent of the respondents) believe businesses are focused on their own agenda rather than helping to improve society, according to the report.


“The message is clear: when looking at their career goals, today’s Millennials are just as interested in how a business develops its people and how it contributes to society as they are in its products and profits,” says Barry Salzberg, CEO of Deloitte Global. “These findings should be viewed as a wake-up call to the business community, particularly in developed markets, that they need to change the way they engage Millennial talent or risk being left behind.”


Two of the survey’s findings in particular caught my attention. The first is that for six in 10 Millennials, a “sense of purpose,” is part of the reason they chose to work for their current employers. Furthermore, among Millennials who are relatively high users of social networking tools (the “super-connected Millennials”), there appears to be even greater focus on business purpose. Indeed, 77 percent of this group report their company’s purpose was part of the reason they chose to work there. On the other hand, just 46 percent of those who are the “least connected” report that a company’s purpose was part of what made the company appealing.


I was also interested to read about the participants’ views of leadership. The survey found that Millennials place less value on visible leaders (cited by 19 percent of the respondents), well-networked leaders (17 percent) and technically-skilled (17 percent) leaders. Instead, the surveyed Millennials define true leaders as strategic thinkers (cited by 39 percent of respondents), inspirational (37 percent), personable (34 percent) and visionary (31 percent).


What do you think about your employer? Would Millennials be attracted by its business purpose or innovative products?