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Finding work

In spite of the fact that Indian universities produce tens of thousands of well-educated and work-ready graduates each year, the supply of graduate labour force participants is still unable to keep pace with the voracious demands of the country’s rapidly growing economy.

As such, opportunities still abound for suitably qualified and experienced expats to find challenging and rewarding work in a variety of sectors including IT, biotechnology, aeronautics, pharmaceuticals, and consumer electronics.

Whilst the types of jobs available tend to be graduate entry level roles, designed to acculturate newly qualified professionals into the Indian way of doing business, remuneration packages (for Indian nationals) are generally around 25% of what a comparable job would pay in the UK or U.S., but expat employees working for multinational organisations may well attract premium wages, particularly if they are older, more experienced employees with mortgages and other financial obligations to maintain at home. Promotion prospects are good, and the lower cost of living in India, as compared to more developed economies, makes the prospect of starting a career in India very attractive. Alongside professional roles (e.g. science, engineering, etc.), the buoyant Indian economy also offers valuable opportunities for sales and marketing specialists, particularly in Indian-owned firms wishing to expand their export sales into Europe and North America.

There’s a growing trend of multinational companies outsourcing their manufacturing and customer service operations to India in order to take advantage of the comparatively cheap, yet well-educated labour force available there. Alongside India’s current inability to meet the demand of suitably experienced individuals to manage such operations, this means that there are also opportunities for more experienced expats wishing to consolidate their managerial careers in a fast-paced, dynamic, and rapidly expanding commercial context.

Employment opportunities in India are advertised in the press and online as in Europe and North America. However, by far the most successful way to secure an appropriate position in India is through your current employer, who will have an understanding of you, your work, your capabilities, and your career aspirations. Word of mouth is a powerful source of opportunity identification for jobs in India and, with the recruitment process in India often hinging on the availability of personal recommendations, it is advised that people wishing to start or develop their careers in India utilise their personal and professional networks in order to exploit maximum value and to locate suitable roles for which to apply.

Sector-specific recruitment agencies are another potentially useful resource to consider, but care should be taken when using such agencies to ensure their legitimacy. Agencies recommended by colleagues within your field of work tend to offer the safest way to approach this type of recruitment, but careful consideration of the cost-benefit of this approach should be made, with all fees being discussed and agreed in writing prior to the engagement of services, and no money should be paid upfront for future work.

There has been a reported increase in recent years of the targeting of online job searchers by fraudsters purporting to be genuine and reputable Indian companies (often those searched for by online job hunters), offering ‘interviews’ for genuinely advertised roles and requesting bank payments prior to interview. In view of the growing scale of the problem, job seekers are advised to make contact with a named representative within the company from which an invitation to interview has been made, and to cross-reference the supplied contact details with information from the company website.

Job applications

As with the majority of business practices in India, the job application process tends to follow European and North American standards, and usually involves the submission of a CV, covering letter, and online application form. Brevity, succinctness, and politeness are expected within covering letters, which should be presented in a formal tone, contain no more than three or four paragraphs of text (maximum one page), and should clearly demonstrate your suitability for the post.

CVs, on the other hand, whilst also being brief (no more than two pages), should contain far more detail than is the norm in Europe or North America. Presented in reverse chronological order, CVs should provide detailed evidence of prior experience, but should also highlight relevant social skills through explication of non-work related activities and interests in order to present a picture of the candidate as a person as well as a worker.

It is worth noting that the vast majority of Indian nationals applying for managerial or other professional roles in India will possess a postgraduate degree and/or several years of sector-specific experience. As such, it is suggested that in order to maximise chances of success in the recruitment process, international applicants ensure that they are similarly qualified and experienced prior to application, with postgraduate qualifications from UK and North American universities looked upon most favourably.

Job interviews

The interview process tends to replicate international standards and often comprises several ‘rounds’, beginning with online psychometric and competency testing, followed by a telephone or video conference interview, and finally face-to-face panel interviews with key managerial staff.

Within the Indian context, personal relationships are central to doing business and, as such, the distinctions and divisions between professional and personal lives are far less marked than in European or North American contexts. To that end, business success goes hand-in-hand with the creation of positive personal relationships with colleagues, business partners, and potential new clients, and professionals in India are expected to spend often significant amounts of time socialising with business associates in order to form the bonds of trust that are a precursor to successful business practice in India. Prospective candidates may be asked about their current situation and future ambitions in more detail than would be the norm in European and North American contexts, but bear in mind that relationship-based business practices are the norm across the board, and that employees will be assessing both cultural as well as organisational ‘fit’ through the interview process. Therefore, becoming comfortable with the more personal way of doing business in India is a must for international applicants.

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