Six Months in India: A 2021 Market Update

5 Minutes

From Gaurav Yadav, Director, Elliott Scott HR India.I’m excited to share my first arti...

From Gaurav Yadav, Director, Elliott Scott HR India.

I’m excited to share my first article since officially launching the Elliott Scott HR India business in March of this year, after relocating back from Singapore. You can read about the opening of this office and learn more about me in our official announcement. I’ve now been back in India for six months which has enabled me to far better understand the local market and how it relates to and compares to my experience elsewhere in the APAC region. Today I’ve sat down to gather my thoughts and reflect on my experiences of recruiting in India so far - it's been busy and I am excited to share our journey! Our first month was focused on setting up the infrastructure of the business but the onset of an aggressive second Covid-19 wave in April worried us.

Thankfully we had several assignments from our global clients, and it gave us a solid start and kept us busy even at the peak of covid cases. Fast forward to September and I am proud to say that I have recruited a team around me to enable further growth and we have successfully closed our first roles. If I focus first on candidates - I have been impressed with the HR talent available here and the breadth and depth of experiences people have including managing trade unions, resolving issues that are highly uncommon/complex in other markets, and leading large teams that in turn support huge workforces. HR professionals are eager and curious to take on responsibilities across the full HR spectrum and it gives them a solid technical understanding of different HR functions.

On the other hand, I do feel that some clients/candidates can be too transactional. This may be due to the very high number of recruiters and recruitment agencies in the market. Arranging calls to speak over the weekend or late at night is quite common too. I feel there needs to be more recognition of and focus on creating work-life balance. And yes, the volume is so high (trust me going through 5K applicants for one role can be overwhelming) that sometimes it is statistically impossible to revert to everyone. Alongside their global colleagues, HR professionals in India have also experienced rapid and significant changes to the world of work brought on by the pandemic; remote working, restructuring, digitization, looking after employee motivation, and most importantly employee mental health and wellness while ensuring all other HR processes are running smoothly and in parallel.

These have been unprecedented circumstances for HR teams and as we try to return to some manner of normalcy, HR professionals are looking at an insanely competitive & ambitious talent landscape. This is because the current market is highly candidate-driven with a big shortage of Talent Acquisition (TA) professionals (a trend seen globally). The majority of TA professionals I have spoken to in the last three months have at least one job offer in hand and often multiple offers on the table. Similarly, there is a big demand for hands-on Business Partners. Roles in other HR support functions are picking up but not in the way that TA and Business Partnering roles have. We’re seeing strong demand for Mid to Senior HR professionals which will continue for the rest of this year. Focusing now on clients and the broader economy - India's projected growth in 2021 is sitting at 8.3% and the market looks promising.

Most organizations are learning to live with Covid, deferred hiring from 2020 is picking up again and all sectors are looking to get back to normalcy. The IT and Financial Services market is very active, with AI, Cloud, Data Science, Full Stack, Robotics, and Cybersecurity skills in huge demand. However, I was surprised to learn that India has the lowest number of Analytics experts in the APAC region. Ed-Tech, Fintech, Startups, Shared Services, and Professional Services are also showing very promising signs. The Hospitality and Travel sectors are still struggling. Larger, global organizations have growth plans in the region and it is great to learn that Amazon is adding an additional 8000 employees this year and will have increased their headcount by 2 million by 2025. Similarly, the news that Tesla, Apple, and Samsung are bringing in more production to India is exciting and the market is packed with a lot of action. At the end of July, overall hiring was 65% higher compared with July 2019. I am excited and optimistic about what’s to come for our India operation.

If you are a client seeking to expand your HR team; or a HR candidate looking for your next move; or an HR professional keen brainstorm career ideas or discuss market intelligence – then please feel free to reach out to me at or via LinkedIn