Working in India
The job market
What are your chances of getting a job?
There are potentially many opportunities for employment in India, but there are also some barriers for UK and EU applicants as they may miss out on final year recruitment rounds taking place at Indian universities. Also, since many Indian employers prefer to recruit through personal referrals, overseas applicants may be at a disadvantage.
Indians often have one to three years’ experience or a masters or MBA qualification, so consider getting some work experience or a professional or postgraduate qualification before applying for jobs in India. Networking and making contacts is key to finding out about vacancies and securing personal referees. Alternatively, find employment in the UK first with a company which has operations in India and then apply for a transfer.
Multiple languages and thousands of dialects are spoken in India, but English is widely used for business communication. It is also the language of instruction in Indian universities and many university-educated Indians speak English both at work and at home. You’ll be able to get by with English in the major cities, but few people in rural areas can communicate in English.
Where can you work?
- Major industries: textiles, chemicals, food processing, steel, transportation equipment, cement, mining, petroleum, machinery, software, pharmaceuticals.
- Recent growth areas: IT, telecommunications, healthcare, aviation, infrastructure, retail, energy, clothing, banking, steel, and automobile.
- Shortage occupations: as the economy is expanding, there are opportunities for skilled employees in all the main areas of employment.
- Major companies: AIA Engineering, Amara Raja Batteries, Asian Paints, Cadila Healthcare, HDFC, Proctor & Gamble Hygiene and Healthcare, Sundaram Finance, Tata Motors, Yes Bank, Zee Entertainment.
What’s it like working in India?
- Average working hours: the official working week is 48 hours, which is generally observed in the public sector, but the reality for many employees in the private sector is working weeks of up to 60 hours.
- Holidays: larger employers generally offer around 20 days' annual leave per year.
- Tax rates: details of tax, exemptions and relief for foreign nationals can be found on the Tax Information Network (TIN) website - a resource provided by the Income Tax Department. Don’t forget to check your UK tax and National Insurance position with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to ensure that you are not losing any UK pension rights.
Applying for jobs
The most common kinds of application are by CV and covering letter and by online application forms.
A high proportion of employees are recruited through personal contacts, but recruitment agencies are also commonly used. Agencies may be helpful for finding out about openings.
Indian CVs are typically similar to CVs in the UK – two pages long with details of employment history, education, skills and additional information. Just Landed has details of how to apply for jobs in India, as well as offering a host of other work-related information. See applications and CV advice for general job hunting tips.
The interview process is comparable with that in the UK. Face-to-face interviews with one or more people are to be expected and psychometric testing may also be used. Several websites, such as Naukri Guru, provide sample questions and tips for interview preparation.
Will your UK qualifications be recognised?
UK qualifications are generally well recognised around the world, but check with the employer or the relevant professional body prior to applying for work.
Being such a vast country, India has many newspapers, for a comprehensive list, see onlinenewspapers.com.
Jobs and careers fairs take place every year across India. You can find details by searching online to see what is running at the time of year or location convenient to you. Information about recruitment drives for specific professions, such as engineering, can also be found online and often have details of ‘walk-in’ interview sessions, where you can just turn up and be interviewed for a job, on the day.
Although many large global organisations have a presence in India, many millions of employees work for small businesses, sometimes referred to as SMEs (small to medium sized enterprises). The Indian government supports small businesses via the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (India) and entrepreneurs through the NIESBUD (The National Institute for Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development (India). The structure of the small business sector still needs further development, but there are many opportunities to be found here and support is also available for those interested in self-employment or starting up new businesses.
Personal referral is a common recruitment method across India. Developing networks, making contacts and getting to know people are all vital to help you discover hidden job opportunities.
Expertise in Labour Mobility (ELM) produces a career guide called Looking for Work in India, which is available for purchase and is designed to support you in your search for a job in the country.
Getting work experience
Work placements and internships
Indian companies offer internship positions similar to those available in the UK. These are usually short-term or summer placements and UK and EU nationals compete with Indian counterparts and encounter the same obstacles as when applying for employment. A list of internships is available at Indian Internship.
The multi-faith, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and secular organisation Inter Cultural Dialogue and Exchange, India (ICDE) provides opportunities for young people to participate in a one-year exchange programme. The aim of the programme is to promote peace and inter-cultural learning, through voluntary work and education.
Many recognised volunteering providers also offer teaching opportunities, including Travellers Worldwide, which runs a project for teaching under-privileged children and sister companies i-to-i and LoveTEFL.
India is a vast country with many large cities, and is popular with both business travellers and tourists. There may be opportunities for short-term work in hotels, bars, restaurants and other service industries, but bear in mind that the population of India is around 1.3 billion and many of the working population have roles in the service industries sector.
Gap year and volunteering opportunities
As well as volunteering or teaching, you could backpack around India, coach football or get involved in conservation. For ideas and details of projects, visit gap year websites like Gapyear.com and Gap-year.com.
Many international volunteer programmes offer opportunities in India, including:
There are also a number of India-specific organisations and initiatives such as the Sankalp Volunteer, ICDE and Volunteering India. A reasonably full list of such organisations is available from the Overseas Job Centre.
Do you need a visa?
All foreign entrants to India need a valid passport and a valid Indian visa. The application process can be slow, so you should allow plenty of time.
Business visas are granted as ‘multiple entries’ visas, allowing applicants to travel to India in order to pursue business activities, excluding employment, such as attending meetings and business conferences.
Indian business visas are valid for between six months and one year, or up to five years. However, the period of stay in India is limited to six months each visit, so you have to leave and re-enter the country. Up to one year business visas cost £150 and up to five year visas cost £450. Business visas cannot be extended within the country.
A letter from a sponsoring Indian company will have to be submitted, along with an introductory letter from your own employer. Those applying to work in India need to obtain an employment visa. Work permits, or Indian employment visas, may be issued to skilled professionals or to applicants filling a specific role. The requirements for work permits are loosely defined and at the discretion of Indian visa services, but you must have one in order to work in India. Although work permits may be obtained by either the employer or the employee, employers usually take the lead in submitting applications.
You might also find it helpful to contact your ministry of foreign affairs (or your own embassy if you are not living in your home country) to ask whether there are any issues to be taken into account when considering working in India.
If you are not a UK national, contact the Indian embassy in the country where you are currently residing about how to obtain visas and work permits. If you are living in the UK, go to High Commission of India in the UK.
Detailed information plus visa application forms are available online from the India Visa Application Centre, but you will have to attend a Visa Application Centre to process the application further.
How do you become a permanent resident?
Citizenship of India by naturalisation can be applied for by foreign nationals who have been ordinarily resident in India for twelve years or more, in a fourteen year period, including the twelve uninterrupted months preceding the application. For more information, consult the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India – Foreigners Division.
Living in India
- Cost of living: It is possible to live very cheaply in India. In the Worldwide Cost of Living Index 2016, India is placed lowest of the 122 entries.
- Internet domain: .in
- Currency: Indian Rupee (INR)
- Health: standards of healthcare are variable in India; private clinics are usually well-equipped, but public ones (particularly in rural areas) often have poor hygiene and lack even basic equipment. Private medical insurance is available but expensive. Take care with water and food hygiene. Drink or use only boiled or bottled water and avoid ice in drinks. Mosquito-borne diseases, such as malaria, dengue and chikungunya affect most of India.
- Type of government: federal republic
- Laws and customs: you should not become involved with drugs of any kind. Penalties for possession of narcotic substances can be severe. As of July 2009, homosexuality was decriminalised in India, although it largely remains a taboo subject.
- Emergency numbers: British nationals can get help from the British High Commission – India in a variety of emergency situations, such as if they’re victims of crime, arrested, need a lawyer, injured/seriously ill or with a British national who dies while in India. Emergency telephone numbers are 100 – Police; 101 – Fire Department; 102 – Ambulance.
- People: Indo-Aryan (72%); Dravidian (25%); Mongoloid/other (3%).
- Major religion: Hinduism