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Finding a Job, CVs, Interviews and Etiquette for Expats in India

Submitted: October 2013

Finding a Job

In order to be in a secure position with the Immigration authorities, it is best to apply for and gain employment before entering the country. When applying, it is important to emphasise skills that are lacking in India, as administrative and other positions that can be filled in by locals are not usually available. Expats who stay in India on an Employment visa and have their employment contract terminated will normally have to leave the country.

The most convenient way to search for jobs in India is by using online job portals. These enable you to filter your search according to job function, industry, salary and location, or search for keywords. Popular job search sites in India include:

Most English-speaking daily newspapers also offer career pages and job advertisements. For example:

Other useful job search sites include:

Another popular option for job seekers is to register with a recruitment agency, who can help you to find jobs that match your profile. There are a number of recruitment agencies in India. For a list of accredited recruitment agencies have a look at the website of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs. It is recommended to check online reviews before selecting one.

Finally, make sure to look directly on the websites of Indian companies/organisations and multinational companies that interest you. These will often include a section called Employment or Vacancies, where their present job openings are announced.


Most employers in India demand a curriculum vitae (CV) or résumé as part of your job application. It is essential to have a strong CV highlighting your qualifications and past work experience since this is your way of introducing yourself to the employer. There is no general CV template as different sectors have different preferences. However, there are certain guidelines that apply to most CVs in India.

It is vital that your CV is concise. Unless otherwise specified in the job advertisement, a standard non-academic CV in India should be no longer than 2 pages. CVs in the academic sector can be longer since it is common to list all publications and conferences attended.

Furthermore, your CV should be well-structured. You can achieve this by dividing the CV into various sections and using subheadings to denote these sections. Typical sections include Personal Details, Education, Work Experience, Further Qualifications, IT Skills, Language Skills and Interests. In India, it is also common to include a brief career profile and career objectives on your CV.

Commonly you list your personal details first by putting your name and surname on top of your CV and including your contact details (address, telephone number and email) underneath. In India, date of birth and nationality are often included at the bottom of the CV. Certain employers might also request a photograph.

The sections devoted to education and work experience are generally arranged in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent academic qualification and employment. When listing previous employment, clearly indicate the start and end date, job title and name of the company/organisation you worked for. It is also recommendable to include a brief description of your primary responsibilities and achievements in your recent jobs.

Last but not least, your CV should be written in a positive tone, emphasising strengths and achievements throughout. Whenever possible use action words, such as ‘achieved’, ‘obtained’ or ‘developed’. Also make sure that your spelling and grammar are correct and avoid using informal language. For sample CVs have a look at the job search sites listed above, for example Nakuri’s Sample CVs.


Cover Letters and References

In addition to CVs most Indian employers request a cover letter. Cover letters should normally be around one A4-page long and drawn up as a formal business letter. The purpose of a cover letter is to explain your motivation for applying for the position, how your skills and qualifications match the employer’s requirements and what you will bring to that particular role. When writing cover letters, pay attention to the requirements mentioned in the job advertisement and comment on how you fulfil these. For further advice on writing cover letters in India see Careesma’s Advice on Cover Letters and the Times of India article on Cover Letters.

When applying for jobs in India, you might also be asked to provide references. These should typically be from previous employers (or academic supervisors if you have started working recently) who can comment on your skills and qualifications.



Job interview types in India vary from employer to employer. They differ in length, interviewing technique and the size of the panel. Usually they take place in person. However, telephone and Skype interviews have also become common, in particular if interviewees are located abroad at the time of interview.

Generally interviewers first give you the opportunity to introduce yourself, present your motivation and argue why you are a good candidate for the position. Subsequently, employers ask questions about your previous employment and test how your skills match their requirements. For further advice on interview preparation, see for example the Times Jobs article on Interview Preparation.

If applying for work with an international company, you are also likely to face assessment centres. Such assessment centres last a day or two and include a range of tasks, such as presentations, group activities and written tests, to test your suitability for the position.



When applying for jobs in India always make sure to use formal language and polite wording throughout the application process. In written applications, short versions such as “don’t” or “isn’t” should be avoided and instead spelled out as “do not” or “is not”.

When attending a job interview in India it is crucial to arrive on time or a few minutes early. Another important rule is to dress appropriately. Even if the company/organisation does not have a specific dress code it is still advisable to opt for business-wear in discreet colours and avoid using eye-catching jewellery or heavy make-up.

Note also that traditionally Indian men only shake hands with men and not with women. Certain men might do so anyhow, especially in international contexts, but women are advised not to initiate the handshake themselves.

Throughout the interview make sure to sit straight and make eye-contact with the interviewers. The tone of the interview is likely to be quite formal. Show that you are professional and do not forget that a smile can take you a long way!




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