India: Recruitment

January 2015. Posted in Int. Skills, Recruiting

India: Recruitment


Introduction to recruitment in India

The expansion of many foreign companies in India has led to many changes in Indian business culture. The native citizens of India are now dealing more often with foreign employers and employees. These changes effected the industry, mainly in the capital and other big cities in India like Delhi and Mumbai. The manner of finding jobs through personal contacts is still the best way of getting into business in India more rapidly. However, this is also a subject to change because of the appearance of foreign organizations, as getting a job through people you know will not work so easily when applying for a job in a foreign organization. Therefore, the arrival of foreign businesses in India has resulted in a complete new manner of recruitment in India.


Introduction to India

India, officially called The Republic of India, is located in Southern Asia and is surrounded by the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal, and the Indian Ocean. It shares borders with Pakistan, China, Bhutan, Nepal, Burma and Bangladesh. India is the seventh largest country in the world, with a total area of almost three million square kilometres. The official languages are Hindi and English, with Hindi being the official language of the Union, and English the co-official language of government. India was ruled by the British for one century and gained their independence in 1947. Historically, India’s main exports were cotton and spices, while today the country’s three main export products are fuel, gemstones and vehicles

Business communication India

India is a high context culture, which means that it could be challenging to do business there. Communication is all about hand gestures, facial expressions and head movement. Things that are not said are still very important. The communication style in India is very indirect. A direct ‘no’ is absolutely not said. This will lead to losing face, which means embarrassing yourself or the person you are speaking to. This can lead to awkward situations in a country with such a strong hierarchy. Also, a ‘yes’ doesn’t mean that the deal is closed, it simply means that one is listening and understands what the other party is saying. This will cause a lot of confusion among foreigners, therefore being able to ‘read between the lines’ is quite important when doing business in India.

Indian business culture adheres to a strict hierarchy, and information is a privilege reserved only for the top layers of management (top-down management). India signed a business constitution in 1950 which should have eliminated discrimination based on caste. Unfortunately, there is still a strong hierarchy in Indian companies which is not so much based on caste but on age, seniority, rank and gender. In business circles, status is recognized by age, university degree, profession, job title and material possessions. Due to the high context nature of Indian culture, it is important for the employees to know what their roles and responsibilities are, as well as those of their co-workers. When having a disagreement, it is expected to be solved by all the involved parties. This will happen by discussing and always keeping in mind that you cannot offend or openly disagree with the boss or superior in front of anyone else. Having a level of flexibility is very important when working in India and dealing with Indians. Family is very important in India which means that family obligations are taken very seriously. Sometimes, they are taken even more seriously than work obligations. These family obligations could effect, for example, a deadline. This does not mean that having a good bond with colleagues is not as important as the family connections. Outside of office hours, it is natural for colleagues get to know each other, which will lead to a better workplace and better results.

Finding a job in India

A well drafted cover letter is a door that leads to the résumé, the résumé leads to the interview, and the interview to the job.


Cover letter

When applying for a job in India, you are expected to include a formally-written cover letter along with the CV, even when applying online for a job. India follows international standards in structure and content, which means that it should be brief, no longer than a page. Like most cover letters, you are expected to sell yourself, explain your interest in the job and show that you have done some research about the company. The candidate should also explain what his or her future plans are. This will give the company a better insight into whether the candidate fits in the working environment and team.

“It is an age of computers, therefore print is much better than handwritten (job application)”


Unlike the cover letter, the CV does not have a standard format. The most important thing is to design the CV in a visually attractive way which represents you in the best way possible and impresses the employer in one a glance. The CV does not have a standard length, though it is recommended to stick to a one-page CV because of the sheer volume of applications received by Indian companies. The CV should begin with an interesting title followed by the applicant’s personal information, then a section with future objectives. The applicant is free to add a profile to his CV, this is optional but highly recommended. This section will help the employer to become more acquainted with the applicant’s abilities and accomplishments. Sections entitled ‘Educational Qualification’, ‘Work Experience’ and ‘Achievements’, as well as the dates or period the applicant has served in the listed organizations are mandatory on an Indian CV. References are not required on an Indian CV, as indicating availability of references is usually enough. It can often be helpful to send a photocopy of results and/or diplomas along with the cover letter and CV. One of the most important things for an applicant to remember is that they should not include any negative or confidential information about themselves or any other companies in their CVs or cover letters.

“It is not necessary to apply in both languages, English and Hindi, but it is expected that they know both languages”

“I get crazy CV’s that are more than 100 pages long with all the personal work and reference letters!”
“If the company does require these attachments, it will be mentioned specifically”

Job interview

As mentioned before, a good resume leads to a job interview. A job interview is essentially a personal interview between the recruiter and the candidate. Candidates are expected to be on time, as arriving late to the interview is rude and is seen as being unprofessional and not serious enough. The recruiters look for candidates who are interested in the company and well-motivated. The candidate could show initiative by asking questions about what the company would like to see in an employee. Additionallly, candidates are expected to wear formal clothing to a job interview. India is a masculine culture, therefore it is recommended not to shake hands with women. An important thing to note is that, unlike western countries, Indian employees are expected to negotiate about their wages. While negotiating about wages is fine, talking about holidays and other benefits is a no-go, as this could leave a bad and unprofessional impression on the recruiter. After the interview, a candidate will have to fill in a form about his or her personal background. This form will be stored in the company’s database. A candidate will have to have a good amount of patience when applying for a job in India. It could take up to two months until a candidate hears anything further about his application.

“Depends on the job applying for and the employer, normally formal shirt with jeans and shoes is acceptable”

“It depends on the job. If it is managerial level in most corporates it would be English. However, for certain states (e.g. TN, Karnataka) local language will work. Local language will definitely work for government jobs”

Recruitment sources


Registration on one of India’s job sites could be a good first step when looking for a job in India. Registration does not always cost money, as some of the websites offer free registration. Job sites ask job-seekers to post their CV, personal information and sometimes even a recent photo of themselves. The following online job sites are considered to be the top five in India: 



Job-seekers who do not have access to the internet could also find a job in one of India’s newspapers, as a matter of a fact, this is still one of the best sources in India.

The Times of India is India’s leading English daily newspaper and also one of the best ways to find a job, which also publishes job advertisements at

The second leading daily newspaper in India is the Hindustan Times, with job postings published twice weekly.

The third leading newspaper is the Hindustan Times. They also have an online job site which is powered by

Finally, Employment News is a weekly employment newspaper published by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. The newspaper comes in three languages: English, Hindi and Urdu.


International companies

Apart from the Indian companies who offer jobs, there are also many American, European, and Asian companies who are active in India and who offer jobs there as well. The following executive recruiters and search firms are considered the top five in India:

  • Adecco India
  • Executive Access
  • Heidrick & Struggles
  • Manpower India
  • Stanton Chase Int.

Survey results

The survey conducted by CCBS was focused on responses from Indian locals in high business management positions. The aim of the survey was to get a broader insight into how recruitment in India takes place. The results demonstrated interesting facts about Indians in the Indian working environment. For example, when applying for a job, it is now more accepted to hand in your resume electronically. Depending on the job requirements, it could be interesting for the applicant to apply for the job in original ways.

Once an applicant is invited for a job interview, the type of job and company the applicant is applying to dictates what the applicant should wear. In the past, it was normal to wear traditional Indian attire, this is currently changing.

Therefore, the way you should apply for a job depends on the company and the way it is doing business.

For jobs in higher positions, it is expected that you speak English well, and for lower-ranked positions, it is expected that you have knowledge of both Hindi and English.


Interview results

The purpose of this interview was to get a better insight into business life in India from a native’s perspective. The interviewee was Rajeev Velur. Rajeev is a 43 year old Senior HR Manager public relations at Weber Shandwick. According to Rajeev, the Indian business culture has been developing over several hundreds of years. The business culture is still highly influenced by Hinduism/Islam, as well as the British empirical system. Although bosses are still highly respected in India, because of the entry of international companies into India, it is becoming very common to adapt the way of doing business to that of a multinational company. This means that now, new relationships are established between employees and bosses. However, confrontation is still avoided. Another significant change in the Indian business culture is that women nowadays are working in higher positions.

Foreigners trying to enter the Indian market are advised to have contacts within the company they are trying to work for. It is very crucial to have local partners, since Indian companies tend to hire the applicant even faster. When knowing people in higher positions, it could benefit the foreigner even more.

A foreign job hunter should always remember to have name and positions figured out clearly when applying for a job in India. During interviews, unnecessary commentary about Indian politics or even Pakistani politics could lead to a bad impression and should not be mentioned. In addition, a great subject of conversation is cricket, a subject about which an Indian will share their emotions and pride more freely. Moreover, face-to-face contact is a must. This shows that people have respect for each other.


Main conclusions

Companies prefer to receive CV’s and job applications electronically, however when applying for certain jobs, it is still interesting to apply the old-fashioned way. If you are invited for a job interview you are advised to wear formal clothes, including a good pair of jeans and a neat blouse. Some jobs would appreciate it if the applicant came wearing traditional Indian clothes. For jobs in higher positions, a strong knowledge of English is expected, and for lower positions, it is expected that the applicant have knowledge of both Hindi and English.

Bosses are highly respected in India, but because of the entry of many international companies in India, the relationship between employees and bosses has changed a little bit. Additionally, because of the increase in international companies, women are now working in higher positions now.