This academic year (2005-2006), an estimated 1.4 million students will earn their bachelors’ degrees — and with the strongest job market in five years, companies will undoubtedly be competing hard to get the best new recruits.

Branding specialist Universum Communications surveyed over 37,000 undergraduate students on their ideal employers. Of those surveyed, 1,464 students listed retail/fashion/apparel as their preferred sector of interest. These students were asked to select up to five ideal employers – both inside and outside of the retail/fashion/apparel sector.

Claudia Tattanelli, ceo of Universum, pointed out the reasons these companies are so appealing: identifiable marketing campaigns, giving back to the community, strong recruiting programs and a focus on diversity. “Students are also looking for companies that reflect a ‘cool, relaxed and comfortable’ working atmosphere,” she added. “Think Gap, Nike, Google, Starbucks — look at how many top-ranked companies are headquartered on the West Coast.”

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