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Key Cultural Differences between British and Indian Culture in the UK job market

Key Cultural Differences between British and Indian Culture in the UK job market

In our latest blog post, Birkdale Collective intern Himani Sharma looks at some of the key differences between the UK and India in terms of applying for jobs. Himani is in a unique position having been involved in careers and mentoring in both her home country of India and now in the UK with Birkdale Collective. Please note elements of this are theory and elements are opinion based on experience.

Firstly, we take some inspiration from this piece about UK/India cultural difference and how that may influence our job searching…

1. Compared to British culture, Indian culture is more focused on the group.

India places a strong focus on family and clan, which are frequently aligned along socioeconomic, religious, or political lines. People in India tend to identify themselves more by the groups they belong to than by their standing as an individual. Western countries, in contrast, tend to be more individualist and have less links to families and social organisations. Indians frequently prioritise the needs of the group, but British people are less prone to do so. In employment terms, this is important to note as the questions you may face could be very different which we do into later.

2. Indian Culture Is More Hierarchical than British Culture

This is seen in households, where kids are raised to follow their parents’ orders, and in educational institutions, where professors and instructors have power over their pupils and organise and educate them to a large extent. Workplaces and organisations also exhibit this hierarchy, with distinct leaders to whom the rest of the group reports.  In contrast to their Western counterparts, who have a primarily horizontal structure without the idea of hierarchy, this is different. Although hierarchy plays a significant role in several aspects of British society, equality is highly valued. This is a huge area especially when you are in a job, there is far more interaction with your management in the UK comparatively to India.

3. India’s Culture Is Closer Than Britain’s

Taking the above-mentioned concept of respect as a starting point, Indians generally attempt to refrain from saying hurtful things to other people or insulting them. It might be challenging for others to fully understand an individual’s true views and feelings on an issue because of this attempt at politeness. In contrast, individuals are more willing to express their opinions because of the higher level of openness in British society. Brits are less prone to tiptoe around people while expressing their thoughts, despite the fact that they are less outspoken and direct than some of their European colleagues. This directness can be hard to get used to but we must be ready for it from the first moment you begin to apply for roles in the UK.

4. Indian Culture Is More Conservative Than British Culture

Indian culture is typically highly traditional and infused with concepts of honour, respect, and dignity. This makes Indian society into one that is hospitable, restricted, and outmoded. For instance, Indians tend to dress conservatively (though this is changing, especially among the younger generation), profanity and swearing are often avoided in casual speech, and even the most routine daily actions are subject to strict rules of decorum. In contrast, individuals in Britain tend to be much more informal and less conventional when it comes to things like dress or profanity. People are less firmly tied to traditions or fixed behaviours since individuality is valued. 

Now going into more detail, lets take a look at some of the differences we face when physically applying for roles comparing India and the UK…

Job applications in India

In India, cover letters and CVs are not generally submitted with job applications. In terms of form and substance, they adhere to international norms with a few minor Indian quirks. You don’t need to submit references or certifications with your original application, but you should mention them. Like anywhere else in the globe, your application should be as succinct as possible while highlighting your unique qualifications for the position.

Cover Letters

In India, a cover letter should briefly discuss your qualifications for the position and why you are interested in it whereas in the UK we try to match company values. It must to provide some details on your future objectives. That will enable your potential employer to determine whether you would be a good team member. For every job, a cover letter is not always required.  Despite being an essential component of your application, cover letters in India shouldn’t go beyond one page which is similar to the UK. There should only be three to four paragraphs on the page. Since respect for one another is highly valued in Indian workplaces, you should maintain the tone of your cover letter as respectable and polite.

Job interviews in India

A personal interview will be the next stage of your application process if you are selected for the short list. Major firms will probably undertake a whole series of interviews to learn more about the applicant which is the same as the UK. Try to be genuine and honest in every job interview you attend. 

In India unlike the UK, you can be questioned about your personal details and private life. For instance, it’s typical for Indian companies to inquire about your spouse’s earnings. Your potential employer will frequently inform you that there are no pay negotiations available, but that’s not the case. Indian employers genuinely anticipate that you would bargain for a higher wage. They will be more than pleased to pay you less if you don’t bargain! 

Unlike in the UK, you will be given an application form by the firm after your interviews. Once more, you must describe your professional past, and, like before, you could be asked more introspective questions. But this document is exclusively for the businesses’ records.  Be prepared for a waiting time of a few weeks following the application procedure. You seldom ever receive a prompt answer in India again a difference to the UK in most companies. Even if you are quite convinced that you will be hired, it may still take the HR department up to two months to come back to you. 

To discuss this more, do get in touch with us by clicking here, we would love to hear from anyone dealing with these kinds of differences.

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