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Working in India – particularly in large cities – has become increasingly popular as the country has become known as one of the world's leading economies. As the second-most populous country in the world, India's market is also one of the largest economies in terms of spending power.
Foreigners are generally made to feel welcome in the Indian workplace, but making an effort to adapt to local business culture is important – many companies send their expat employees for cross-cultural training to smooth the transition.
Job market in India
Where expats choose to base themselves in India will largely shape the job market they will encounter. Delhi, as the country's capital city, boasts a diverse economy and cosmopolitan environment, while Bengaluru is nicknamed India's Silicon Valley, and Mumbai is a commercial, entertainment and fashion hub.
Competition for jobs in India is fierce, perhaps more so now than ever as the global economy has been hit by diverse impacts of the coronavirus health crisis. Although Indian universities produce large numbers of qualified graduates, the supply cannot keep pace with the rapid growth in certain sectors of the economy, and graduates' level of experience is often limited. Companies search for candidates with appropriate and extensive experience, and this is often found in the pool of skilled international applicants.
India is home to one of the world's fastest-growing IT industries and the country is now one of the major exporters of software services. Engineering is another rapidly growing sector, from computer science and infrastructure, to manufacturing, petroleum and steel.
Other major employers for expats moving to India are the banking, textiles and tourism industries. Expats with skills and experience in marketing and sales will also find job opportunities aplenty as companies look to tap into the potential of the Indian market. English-speaking educators can find teaching positions at international schools, but these posts are highly sought after.
Large multinational companies often outsource professional jobs to India thanks to lower labour costs. This has been controversial in some Western countries, but it does mean that numerous international companies have an Indian presence, creating potential opportunities for experienced senior expats as well as younger professionals.
As Indian companies look to expand globally, they look for foreigners who are willing to start their careers in India and help the business grow elsewhere. Expat job seekers should keep in mind that, given the competition for employment in India, landing a job immediately isn’t a given.
Finding a job in India
Expats working in India often relocate through an intra-company transfer, as large foreign multinationals have a strong presence in the country. This is why networking is so important when it comes to finding work in India.
For those without any connection in India, job opportunities can be explored using online job portals and social networking sites such as LinkedIn. Online resources provide a good overview of the job market and are usually available in English. Companies may also advertise positions on their websites so it is worth checking individual company sites.
Recruitment agencies can also assist expats in their search for employment, but we suggest ensuring that the recruitment agency is reputable; many recruiters in India charge huge sums of money without any results. It's best to go with recommendations from colleagues within the industry and avoid making any payments upfront. Relocation companies can also steer expats in the right direction.
Once expats have secured a contract, they must apply for the appropriate work permit and employment visa.
Work culture in India
A major adjustment to India's work culture is the typical business hours: employees in India start work later in the morning than in other countries and, therefore, finish later too. Working hours are usually from 9am or 10am to 6pm, Mondays through Fridays and, for some companies, Saturdays too – plus overtime. Of course, this varies across regions and companies, as well as individuals who may opt to start work earlier. These hours can impact a healthy work-life balance and we suggest expat employees find a routine that best suits their lifestyles.
►To learn about workplace culture, see Doing Business in India
►Check out this expat article on Starting a Business in India
"Basically the work week is 6 days (and not 5). The attitude, approach to work, meetings, etc is completely different. Generally it is a less pressured and less structured work environment." For more advice on working in India read our interview with Theo S.
"...a plus or minus 50-hour workweek is not uncommon, and a lot of companies work on Saturdays too." Read more on the economic climate in India in our interview with Daniel.
Are you an expat living in India?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to India. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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