GOOGLE is the top employer of choice for Singapore business and engineering students, who have reiterated yet again that work-life balance stands above all else in their career goals, says the latest survey by employer branding firm Universum.

The Internet search engine squeezed out SIA this year for the No 1 spot in the top employers' list for engineering students. For business students, Google has already held that position since 2014.

"Working at Google provides a chance to tackle some of the most interesting, fun and challenging real- world problems, and to empower people and businesses," says Cheryl Tang, Google's staffing programs lead for Southeast Asia.

Two in three of the 9,304 students from Singapore's four main universities - Singapore Management University, Singapore Institute of Management, National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University - say for the fourth straight year that work-life balance comes first in their careers.

This means, first of all, "having a career that's aligned with my personal interests" - followed by a career that must value and respect employees and has flexible working hours.

"These characteristics are in line with findings in previous years and therefore really help to solidify exactly what is desired," Universum said in a press release on Wednesday.

But there's one big difference from the previous year's survey. "Allowing me to follow personal interest", which includes things like having the freedom to visit social media and take personal calls during office hours, jumped five places to seventh on the work-life balance list.

After work-life balance, the next career goal Singapore's emerging talent most desired is "to be secure or stable in my job" (56.13 per cent), followed by "to be dedicated to a cause or to feel that I'm serving the greater good" (40.4 per cent).

These top three goals are unchanged for engineering students since 2014. For business students, this "greater good" aim was ranked seventh most important in their career goals last year and rose to only third place this year.

"This altruistic career goal, which is dear to Millennials in Singapore, is less important to others in the region and is actually in decline among Malaysian talent," says Universum, which carried out a similar survey in the rest of the world.

"Students (in Singapore) no longer want to join an industry, brand or opportunity; they want to join an environment," says Rachele Focardi, Universum's vice president of employer branding and talent strategy in the Asia-Pacific region.

"Finding the perfect employer or employee has become more like finding the perfect partner. The more you're able to share about yourself and what you're like, the better the match is likely to be," she says.

The survey shows both business and engineering students are also hung up on personal growth and long-term career health, listing "high future earnings", "professional training and development" and "good reference for future career" among the key attributes they will look for in an employer.

But the top attribute for the business and engineering students is "a friendly work environment", which again is consistent with the strong desire for a healthy work-life balance.

According to the survey, banks are falling out of favour with the students. Local banks DBS, OCBC and UOB are ranked 13th, 14th and 30th respectively on the business students' top employers list.

Universum's Ms Focardi says that's because banks no longer understand that people and culture are the most important drivers for employers of choice.

Business students, especially, have become more drawn to accounting and auditing firms. All the big four firms in the accounting and auditing business - PwC, EY, KPMG and Deloitte - are placed highly at fifth, sixth, seventh and eleventh respectively in the business students' top employers list.

These firms all offer what the students want: a friendly work environment, high future earnings, and professional training and development.

Among the engineering students, the survey shows that fast moving consumer goods companies have also become more attractive. All four of the FMCG companies have moved up the top employer rankings. They include Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Nestle, and Johnson and Johnson.