1 of These Popular College Football Schools Could Land You a Job

football fans
Football fans take their teams very seriously. | Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
  • Research from Indeed shows some recruiters and employers give preferential treatment to candidates depending on where they went to college.
  • That preference is rooted in employers’ enthusiasm for college football — not merely academic strength.
  • Indeed ranked all P5 teams and conferences accordingly.

Not everyone is proud of their college football team. While some areas boast proud traditions related to college football — such as Notre Dame, Alabama, and USC — others have wallowed in mediocrity for generations. Sure, teams have a good year here and there, making it to a big bowl game every once in a while. But the power is mostly concentrated in certain schools and conferences. That’s all for naught, though, when it comes to your job search.
That’s an interesting thought, isn’t it? Your college’s football team might play a role in whether you get a job. You might not have cared one iota about your school’s football team, but that doesn’t mean that others don’t. And when push comes to shove for an employer trying to decide between two candidates, it might be a deciding factor.
Job search site Indeed has actually been studying this. In its 2017 College Football Special, Indeed’s team dug into each major college football conference (the Power Five) to see which schools held sway with recruiters and employers. “We analyzed Indeed Resume data to find out which colleges receive the most contacts from employers, focusing on the Power Five college conferences,” Indeed’s report reads. “The strongest Division I conferences in college football, the Power Five includes the following powerhouses: the Big Ten, PAC-12, ACC, Big 12 and SEC.”
So yes, it appears that your school’s football team might actually play a role in your job search, for better or worse. But just because your team slays on the gridiron doesn’t mean your job search gets any easier, as we’ll see. “It turns out that sporting prowess does not always translate into resume victory. For instance, PAC-12 was the winner of all the conferences in terms of overall average recruiter contacts per resume, placing higher than both the SEC and Big 10,” Indeed’s report said.
We’ll go conference by conference to see how each team ranked in terms of employer interest. And we’ll start at the top — with the conference that received more attention overall than any other. That means we’re headed out West.


Football fans at Arizona State help alumni get jobs. | Ethan Miller/Getty Images
  • 1. Utah
  • 2. Arizona State
  • 3. Arizona
  • 4. Washington
  • 5. Colorado
  • 6. Washington State
  • 7. Cal
  • 8. UCLA
  • 9. Oregon
  • 10. Oregon State
  • 11. Stanford
  • 12. USC

Above, you can see how every team in the Pac-12 conference ranked, according to Indeed’s data. Surprisingly, the conference’s true blue-blood program, USC, ranked in last place. The University of Utah, however, apparently kills it with recruiters and employers. Who would’ve thought? Also, other programs, such as Oregon and Stanford, that have had recent success on the field aren’t necessarily seeing that success translate to the job search. But it’s safe to assume that graduates of schools, such as Stanford, Cal, and USC, are finding plenty of job offers without taking football into account.
Next: The B1G

Big Ten

Indiana vs. Ohio State
Ohio State ranks second in the conference. | Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
  • 1. Minnesota
  • 2. Ohio State
  • 3. Rutgers
  • 4. Wisconsin
  • 5. Iowa
  • 6. Penn State
  • 7. Indiana
  • 8. Purdue
  • 9. Maryland
  • 10. Nebraska
  • 11. Northwestern
  • 12. Illinois
  • 13. Michigan
  • 14. Michigan State

The Big Ten, or B1G as it calls itself, came in second overall in the conference race. Again, you can see the full 14-team breakdown above. Indeed had this to say about the Big Ten: “Last year’s Big 10 champion, Penn State, places 6th for attention from employers, with the University of Minnesota taking first place.” Good job, Golden Gophers. In a conference with several blue-blood college football programs, it’s very interesting to see Michigan ranked so low. Meanwhile, the Wolverines’ rivals Ohio State ranked quite high.
Next: The Big 12

Big 12

University of Texas
University of Texas is the best in the Big 12. | JamesWalston/iStock/Getty Images
  • 1. Texas
  • 2. Texas Tech
  • 3. Kansas
  • 4. TCU
  • 5. West Virginia
  • 6. Iowa State
  • 7. Kansas State
  • 8. Baylor
  • 9. Oklahoma
  • 10. Oklahoma State

We move on to the Big 12, now, which encompasses large parts of the Midwest and stretches into Texas. The University of Texas took the top overall spot, with graduates receiving more attention from recruiters and potential employers than any other school in the conference. Like the Big Ten, though, we find a blue-blood program near the bottom of the list in Oklahoma. On the other hand, Texas Tech — a good school but one without a long lineage of college football greatness — ranked second.
Next: The conference near the Atlantic


Louisville player
Several of these schools are very prestigious. | Bobby Ellis/Getty Images
  • 1. Louisville
  • 2. Pittsburgh
  • 3. Boston College
  • 4. Miami
  • 5. Syracuse
  • 6. Virginia
  • 7. Notre Dame*
  • 8. Virginia Tech
  • 9. Florida State
  • 10. NC State
  • 11. Georgia Tech
  • 12. Clemson
  • 13. Duke
  • 14. North Carolina
  • 15. Wake Forest

The Atlantic Coast Conference, or ACC as it’s commonly called, is rife with prestigious universities. Duke and Virginia headline that list, though both are probably better known for their basketball teams than their football teams. Louisville, a team that has seen a fair amount of success in football lately, topped the list. One thing to note is that Notre Dame does appear here, per Indeed’s report. Notre Dame is not a member of the ACC (it is for basketball) and instead plays football as an independent, free from any conference affiliations.
Next: The conference you’ve been waiting for


football game
Mizzou grads received the most job offers of the conference. | Kyle Rivas/Getty Images
  • 1. Missouri
  • 2. Tennessee
  • 3. Kentucky
  • 4. Arkansas
  • 5. Vanderbilt
  • 6. Florida
  • 7. South Carolina
  • 8. Alabama
  • 9. Ole Miss
  • 10. Auburn
  • 11. Texas A&M
  • 12. LSU
  • 13. Mississippi State
  • 14. Georgia

The nation’s premier football conference (or so any fan of an SEC team would tell you) ranked last overall among the Power Five. But that’s when it comes to job search results, not football wins. In terms of job searches, Mizzou grads received the most attention from recruiters and employers, while the conference’s powerhouse, Alabama, landed in the middle of the pack at No. 8. Other big-time programs, including LSU, Georgia, Texas A&M, and Auburn, ranked surprisingly low.
Next: What about everyone else? G5 powerhouses?

What about the rest?

Navy team
There are some very successful schools that weren’t ranked. | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
  • How about schools, such as Boise State, Houston, or South Florida?

The Indeed report doesn’t dig into data involving schools outside of the main Power Five conferences. So for those of you who went to a G5 (Group of Five) school we unfortunately have little to offer. That includes teams playing in Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, AAC, and Sun Belt conferences.
But if we were to take a stab some of the more popular and successful programs at this level would probably be near the top. And that includes schools, such as Boise State, Houston, UCF, USF, and the service academies: Navy, Air Force, and Army.
Next: Why is it that something like college football can help or hurt your job search?

How college football can help your job search

Iowa fans hold up a sign of support.
Sports fans take their pride very seriously. | Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
  • Tap into your tribal tendencies. Or, better yet, tap into an employer’s.

While it’s interesting that your college football team’s popularity can impact your job search, it leaves us with a big unanswered question: Why? What is it about this sport that drives so much revenue and that can fill stadiums with more than 100,000 people? There’s no easy answer, but it has to do with psychology and culture. For instance, they say college football is a religion in the South.
The simplest answer? It’s a shared cultural experience. It’s tribalism. And when you recognize someone from your “tribe” — say, as a recruiter seeing a fellow alum apply for a job at your company — you’re spurred to action. If you’re in the midst of a job search, finding a fellow “tribe” member can pay dividends.
See the complete Indeed College Football Special here.
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