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Written by Lotte van RijswijkLotte van Rijswijk

The most competitive American companies for job seekers, based on applicants per job

32 min read
The most competitive American companies for job seekers
When you’re applying for a job online, being able to see how many applicants you’re up against can be a helpful (if slightly intimidating) insight. Resume.io has utilized this feature on LinkedIn to discover the most and least competitive American companies for job hunters across key industries and Big Tech.

With the number of U.S. job openings at a new low and many employers creeping back to the pre-COVID era of prolonged recruitment processes, hunting for a job today can be exhausting.

Luckily, the internet has made searching through available jobs easier than ever, with an endless array of websites primed to show you pages upon pages of open job listings (tailored to your desired location, industry and salary range) at the click of a button. In particular, LinkedIn — the platform of choice for many recruiters — sees some 61 million users search its site for jobs each week.

When applying for a job through LinkedIn, job seekers are able to see how many people have applied for the same role before them. Sure, seeing a large number of applicants for a job posted just two days ago can be disheartening — but it’s a feature that can also paint a clear picture of which companies are the most fiercely competitive to apply to and which are not nearly as popular. 

With this in mind, Resume.io deep-dived into thousands of LinkedIn job postings to reveal which American companies across key industries and Big Tech receive the most and fewest applications per day. 

How We Conducted This Study

We collected a sample of job advertisements on LinkedIn published by top companies in the tech, fashion, banking, restaurant, energy and retail sectors. We then retrieved the number of people who applied to each advert and the time the advert was created (discarding listings over 29 days old), enabling us to calculate the average number of applicants per day. This allowed us to uncover the most and least competitive companies for job seekers today.

Key Findings

  • The average Netflix job listing on LinkedIn receives more applicants per day (84.87) than any other company — making it the most competitive American firm overall to apply to
  • The restaurant chains Zaxby’s and Applebee’s rank as the least competitive American companies to apply to, with the average job listing for each receiving 0.01 applicants per day
  • In the world of banking and finance, S&P Global is the most competitive U.S. company for job hunters (46.69 applicants per job per day)
  • …and Victoria's Secret & Co is the most competitive U.S. company to apply to in the clothing sector (46.51 applicants per job per day)

Netflix and other top tech companies receive the most job applicants per day

In 2020, a survey of tech professionals revealed that media giant Netflix was the most desirable company to work for, pushing ahead of major brands like Google and Apple. Today — despite an $18 billion drop in share value thanks to its crackdown on password sharing — Netflix is still the most popular company for job seekers, with the average job listing receiving an average of 84.87 applicants per day. 

If Netflix is on your career vision board, former Netflix chief talent officer Patty McCord encourages doing thorough research on Netflix before applying and “social network[ing] your career” by reaching out to current employees for insight. Other tech companies make up the next six spots in our ranking, with Amazon and Microsoft ranking next (73.25 applicants and 57.90 applicants per job per day, respectively).

Top 20 most competitive companies for job seekers

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The last few years have been shaky for jobs in the tech industry, with 1,054 firms in the sector reporting 164,411 layoffs in 2022. Still, this doesn’t put off people pursuing a career in tech. Take Microsoft, which laid off more than 10,000 people in 2023 but places third in our ranking of the most competitive companies overall, seeing 57.90 applicants per job per day. Likewise, Meta — which saw 10,600 employees laid off earlier this year — comes fifth, receiving 52.42 applicants per job per day. 

Our next ranking reveals how Big Tech companies measure against each other when it comes to daily volumes of applicants. Trailing far behind major players Apple (53.74 applicants) and Oracle (49.22 applicants) comes Intel (12.07 applicants), the least competitive Big Tech company to apply for a job. The chipmaker firm is reportedly struggling to fill key positions due to a shortage of skilled labor. 

Most competitive tech giants for job seekers

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Restaurant chains like Zaxby’s and Applebee’s receive the fewest applicants per day

Restaurant chains make up nine of the top 20 spots in our next ranking of the least competitive companies to apply to, with Zaxby’s and Applebee’s taking the lead. Both of these companies only receive 0.01 applicants per LinkedIn job posting per day. Staff shortage is a widespread problem in the restaurant industry today, with 60% of establishments reporting being understaffed in 2023.

It could be that job hunters are moving away from in-house roles where pay is largely dependent on tips. In the U.S., restaurant workers make up the majority of the tipped workforce, for whom pay is federally fixed at just $2.13 an hour. A survey in 2021 revealed that 76% of restaurant workers were planning to leave their jobs because of low wages and tips. 

Top 20 least competitive companies for job seekers

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Other companies in the restaurant sector are much more competitive. Our rankings below reveal the most and least competitive restaurant firms to apply to, with fried chicken chain Wingstop placed as the most competitive (18.03 applicants per job per day). KFC (12.07 applicants) and Panda Express (9.27 applicants) rank next as the most competitive restaurants to apply to.

Top 10 most and least competitive restaurant chains

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In retail, Target is the second-most competitive American company to apply to

We already know that Amazon is one of the most competitive companies to apply to in Big Tech, which launches it to the top of our retail ranking, too. After Amazon comes supermarket megabrand Target, which receives 17.80 applications per job post per day on LinkedIn. If you’re going to work in retail in the U.S., Target seems to be the place to be, offering more “in wages and benefits” than any other store.

Top 10 most and least competitive retail companies

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Some of the least competitive names in retail include Weis Markets (0.06 applicants), Kroger (0.07 applicants) and Dollar General (0.12 applicants), the latter chain having seen 49 employees and customers die since 2014 due to in-store violence and armed robberies. Moreover, the store appears on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s “Severe Violator Enforcement Program” due to unsafe working conditions, with OSHA proposing the store pay millions of dollars in fines. 

S&P Global leads as the most competitive firm in banking and finance to work for

Working in finance stands to get even more competitive, with Gen Z — the newest entrants to the workforce — finding finance the most desirable industry to work in. However, of all the top companies in the sector, it’s S&P Global that ranks as the most competitive to apply to, receiving 46.69 applications per job listing per day. Perhaps applicants are attracted to the company because of glowing employee reviews on Glassdoor, where 86% of reviewers would recommend the firm to a friend. 

The top 10 most and least competitive banking and finance companies

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Not surprisingly, other major players in the industry — including the prestigious Goldman Sachs (41.31 applicants) and JP Morgan Chase (28.56 applicants), the world’s top banks by revenue from investment banking — also rank as the most competitive for job seekers. Meanwhile, First Interstate BancSystem is the least competitive firm in the sector, receiving just 0.06 applicants per job listing per day.  

Victoria’s Secret & Co is the most competitive clothing company to apply to as a job hunter

It’s no secret that lingerie megabrand Victoria’s Secret & Co is popular, having made $6.34 billion in sales last year. It also ranks as the most competitive firm in the clothing industry in which to apply for a job, with the average open role on LinkedIn receiving 46.51 applicants (more than any other company) per day. Earlier this year, Newsweek named the firm one of the best workplaces in the country for diversity. 

The top 10 most and least competitive clothing companies

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On the other hand, the Nebraska-based retailer Buckle ranks as the least competitive clothing firm, receiving just 0.02 applications per LinkedIn job posting per day. In a world where workers are increasingly moving towards sustainable employers, perhaps it’s no help that Buckle receives low scores for its sustainability efforts. Destination XL (0.64 applicants) comes next.

Exxon Mobil sees more applicants per job per day than any other American energy company

Exxon Mobil ranks as the most competitive energy firm among jobseekers, counting 35.34 applicants per job per day. In 2022, a study by the Burning Glass Institute found that the firm has one of the sector’s highest job security levels, with the average employee enjoying a tenure of more than 30 years. Pay is generous, too, with spokesman Casey Norton commenting that the company’s compensation package “is at the high end for many of our employees when we compare to our peers.”

The top 10 most and least competitive energy companies

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When it comes to the least competitive energy companies, DTE Energy leads the way, with the average job listing receiving just 0.42 applicants per day. Also on the ranking is American Electric Power (0.98 applicants), one of the country’s most polluting energy companies, having emitted 82.5 million tons of CO2 emissions back in 2017. Could job hunters be steering clear of brands known to pollute more?

Apply for the role, no matter how many applicants have gone before

Clicking on a perfect-fit, brand-new job posting to find that it's received 100 applications already can be disheartening, but it’s not the end of the road, and if you’ve still got time to apply, then it’s worth doing so. Quantity doesn’t necessarily translate to quality, and it could be that your application — thoroughly tailored to the role and presented well — is the one that stands out among the crowd. 

Rather than applying through LinkedIn or Indeed, you might also want to consider tracking down the role on the company website (if available) and applying there instead. The ‘Easy Apply’ option on LinkedIn, for example, doesn’t give your recruiter much to work with. “When a recruiter receives an ‘Easy Apply’ application,” writes career writer Jaclyn Westlake, “all they see is a snapshot of your LinkedIn profile — namely your photo, headline, past and present job titles, education, and any skills you’ve listed. That’s it!”

Applying through a jobs website also might not give you a chance to attach the all-important cover letter or resume readable by a company’s ATS system, which is the automatic tracking software used to handle job applications by 66% of large companies, 35% of small companies and nearly all Fortune 500 firms.

To explore our data in full, use our interactive table below.

Methodology

We took to LinkedIn to start our research on the most and least competitive U.S. companies for job seekers.

We started by creating a seed list of companies from several different industries: banking and finance, clothing, retail, energy, restaurant chains and big tech. For each category, we found the top 50 U.S. companies and the overall top 100 American companies by market cap.

Then, for each company, we made a sample of job ads posted on LinkedIn within the last 29 days, discarding companies with fewer than 20 total job postings. We found the average number of applicants per post per day for each company.

Finally, we ranked the most and least competitive companies, both overall and by industry.

Additional Sources

1. C. Kholmar. (2023). How Many Applications Does It Take To Get A Job? [2023]. zippia.com

2. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2023). Business and Financial Occupations. bls.gov

3. Ellen MacArthur Foundation. (2023). Fashion and the circular economy. ellenmacarthurfoundation.org

4. International Trade Administration. (2023). Energy Industry. trade.gov

5. IBISWorld. (2023). Chain Restaurants in the US - Employment Statistics 2003–2029. ibisworld.com

6. National Retail Federation. (2023). Retail’s Impact. nrf.com

7. Dice. (2023). The Dice Tech Salary Report. dice.com

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