After a lull in recent years, India's labor market is enjoying a burst of activity, as euphoria over a new government, a booming stock market and improved business sentiment are encouraging employers to hire in a big way.
Salaries in recent months have gone up by up to 60 percent compared to last year in some industries with perks like sign-on bonuses, stock options and even counter offers making a comeback, experts told CNBC.
"The negativity surrounding India's political scene is gone," said Dony Kuriakose, director, EDGE Executive Search. "Hiring seems to be part of a long-term plan for India."
The sentiment is a sea change from just a year ago, when the Fed taper tantrum sparked an outflow of funds from emerging markets including India, causing local stock markets and the India rupee to plummet. This coupled with policy paralysis as the government prepared for polls created a negative business environment forcing employers to cut costs and axe jobs.
Hitesh Oberoi, CEO of Info Edge, the owner of job site Naukri.com, has seen a 20 percent year on year hike in hiring activity in July, after a tough five to six quarters. "Over the next few years India is going to have a good run," he said.
At BITS Pilani University, one of India's premier engineering colleges, there has been a 38 percent year on year increase in the number of employers visiting its three Indian campuses during the placement season that begins in August, including high profile names like Goldman Sachs to eBay and Shlumberger.
Salaries offered have risen between 7 percent and 42 percent, according to G Balasubramanian, chief placement officer of BITS.
IT, e-Commerce: We are hiring!
Positioned a tech hub, it's not surprising that the hiring frenzy in India is most pronounced in the e-commerce and IT related sectors. The country's e-commerce industry has been on an expansion drive with investors pouring in close to $2 billion in this sector this year alone, while IT services, which hires an estimated 150,000 fresh graduates every year, has benefited from the depreciation of the rupee and improving demand in western countries.
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And often, salary is not a consideration in a bid to attract the best talent. One of India's largest e-commerce companies recently paid a million dollars to hire a chief technology officer, industry sources told CNBC. The 38-year-old relocated to India after 10 years in the U.S., as such salaries are "not normal even in America."
New Delhi-based online restaurant guide Zomato.com is struggling to fill positions at its rapidly-expanding firm. The six-year-old start-up is currently present in 13 countries and 100 cities and wants to expand to 10 new international markets within the next five months.
"We are scaling up…at the moment we are just 1 percent of where we want to be," Zomato's regional director Upasana Nath told CNBC, adding that the firm is adjusting salaries upwards by up to 60 percent for certain roles. "If we have more people we can expand more; we are hiring heavily."
It's a sentiment shared by India's leading online marketplace Flipkart.com, which received a whopping $1 billion from investors in July. The firm is planning to increase its technology team three-fold by the middle of next year. "We have grown 100 times in the last three years and we don't see any signs of slowing down," chief placement officer Mekin Maheswari told CNBC.
Non-tech also benefitting
The job creation among Internet companies may be at a frenetic pace, but hiring in traditional sectors like banking and telecommunications is also picking up. According to the Naukri Job Speak Index, a monthly report on hiring activity in India, there has been a near 25 percent year on year uptick in hiring in the banking and telecom sectors in July.
Thirty-five-year-old Delhi-based banker Anubhav Gupta has been looking to change jobs since 2008 and his search has just ended. The MBA-degree holder with 12 years of work experience finally landed a new role recently with another financial institution with a "minor" increase in salary."Things are looking slightly better now, hopefully my next job shift won't take so long," he said.
Hiring executives also point to areas like R&D and life sciences where foreign investment is coming in after a lull period prior to the new government taking over in May. "They [foreign companies] are all looking for country managers and are offering salaries of close to $200,000 to people in their 30s," said Lakshmikanth of the Head Hunters.
It's worth noting that the battle for talent is taking place in the below-40s segment of the market, as the younger demographic have more relevant skills in the nouveau tech space. This is leaving the older unemployed population out in the cold.
"It is still a bad market for them…unless traditional companies in the engineering and automobile spaces start hiring, many of them are still sitting at home," said EDGE Executive's Kuriakose.
Other recruitment experts warn that the current hiring buzz is owed largely to a few industries. "There is a lot of excitement around just 10 internet companies…how many can they alone hire? 500 management graduates?" said Oberoi of Naukri.com.
And should the economy suffer from external shocks much like the battering emerging markets took last year, these tech firms – many which are built on foreign investment – could see an exodus of funds, putting jobs on the line, experts warn.
But for 24-year-old Ravneet Kaur, who left her job with an established Indian design label to join a digital fashion start-up, it's a risk she is happy to have taken.
Armed with a Masters degree in international media business from the University of Westminster, Kaur says the excitement of being in a growth industry far outweighed the "substantial salary hike" she got when making the shift. Kaur, whose parents wanted her to stay on in London after her post graduation, chose to come back to India where she says the action is. "E-commerce is such a new thing in India, unexplored and I want to grow as the company grows," she said.