Issue 6 Uncategorized

The Job Market in 2021

Zahabiya Kinkhabwala (
Unemployment has been the lowest in decades after companies laid-off and furloughed employees in record numbers in a crashing economy. With the economy in a constant state of flux and the uncertainty of the job market and remote working conditions, anxiety about employment is high, especially for new graduates entering the workforce. Here, experts from explain the predicted trends of the job market and how to stay prepared for the same.

The Indian job market is improving slowly and steadily over the past few months after declining by over  60% in April’20 and May’20 year-over-year (Y-O-Y) owing to the pandemic. Hiring is still down by 28% in Nov’20 versus the same time last year as per the Naukri JobSpeak Index. Even though the effect of the pandemic is still evident in Y-O-Y growth, what drives optimism for job seekers is the continued month on month recovery that makes us hopeful for the coming year.  

As organizations are realigning and adjusting to the new normal, they are anticipating an upsurge in the demand for the right talent to tackle challenges that the post-pandemic world would bring. One-fifth of total recruiters foresee hiring bouncing back to pre-COVID levels within the next three months, as per the Naukri Hiring Outlook survey done in Sept’20. Another 26% predict 3-6 months while 34% said that it would take their organizations 6 months to 1 year. 

Some notable trends that will become key in the Indian job market in the coming year include:  

Sectors that will drive hiring in 2021 

Technology has been the game-changer during the lockdown period with corporates showing a huge appetite for digitization. Clearly, the IT sector has been the least impacted sector when it comes to hiring this year. With more companies taking on the route of digital transformation during the pandemic, IT  becomes central to a lot of processes, further pushing the recovery of the sector. The numbers prove this as hiring in the IT sector grew by 10% in November’20 over October’20 while the overall hiring remained flat as per Naukri JobSpeak. This sector could see continued growth in the coming months as well.  

The BPO/ITES sector started the year with positive Y-O-Y growth, up by 18% in January’20 but saw a  decline in hiring as the pandemic hit the country. Interestingly, early signs of recovery were seen from  June’20 onwards as lockdown restrictions were lifted in a phased manner. With more WFH (Work From Home) support for employees and greater digitization efforts across companies, the sector will continue to see an uptick in hiring and remain one of the least impacted sectors in terms of hiring.  

One of the key sectors driving hiring in India this year has been the Medical/Healthcare sector, which was at the forefront of fighting the pandemic. As the demand to hire the right talent increased owing to the pandemic, the Medical sector was the first to bounce back in hiring in May’20 itself as compared to  April’20. The sector has shown strong sequential hiring trends thereafter and will hopefully continue to post more jobs in the coming year. With the vaccine in sight, it appears that the healthcare fraternity which has been single-mindedly focused on the pandemic will start catering to a larger variety of ailments, giving rise to hiring across different specializations. 

Sectors that will make a comeback in hiring 

The two sectors that took a major hit during the pandemic due to lockdown restrictions and social distancing norms were the Hospitality/ Travel and Retail sectors. Hospitality was down by 91% in April’20 and Retail experienced a 77% decline in hiring Y-O-Y. With 5-star Hotels starting home deliveries, and retail outlets developing online trial rooms, both industries found novel methods to integrate technology to deliver their offerings to customers and we saw it reflect in a slow but steady sequential recovery over the year, which will continue in the coming year. There is a lot of pent up demand in this sector 

and with the coming of vaccines, this sector may very well become the sunshine sector in a post-pandemic world. 

Education/Teaching was one of the sectors that saw a sharp decline in hiring in the early days of the lockdown but showed quick signs of recovery as the pandemic pushed academicians and teachers to plunge into the online mode of teaching. This adoption of technology-driven teaching is set to transform the traditional Education/Teaching industry in India in the coming year as well. The movement towards online learning has expedited the need for teaching tools to adapt its delivery of study material for students. This has boosted recruiter demand for a very specific skill called ‘Instructional Design’ that combines education with technology and communication.  

 Hybrid Working Model will be the future 

One of the most interesting behavioural shifts that the Indian workforce has seen as a green shoot to the pandemic is the remote working culture. Led by the pandemic, hiring for remote jobs has increased by 3X as compared to pre-COVID levels this year. Sectors such as BPO/ITES, IT,  Education/Teaching and Internet/Ecommerce are major contributors to WFH jobs posted on  

Greater acceptance of remote working will pave the way for a hybrid-working model in the coming future. Interestingly, as per a recent Naukri survey done with over 4000 jobseekers, a majority of the jobseekers (59%)  prefer a hybrid model of working. A significant 76% of employees confirmed that WFH is equally or more productive than working in an office. The jobseekers’ insight mirrors the recruiters’ perspective as well. Around 69% of recruiters out of 1000 surveyed also feel that WFH is equally or more productive. With companies taking measures to ease their employees into the WFH culture, this trend is clearly is here to stay.  

Upskilling to stay relevant for career progression 

Up-skilling will be the key to be employable in the coming year. As per the recent Naukri Jobseeker Survey conducted with 50,000 job seekers, more than 50% job seekers are focusing on self-development through up-skilling, brushing their domain knowledge and well as taking professional help in building their resumes. Courses such as Data Analytics, Digital Marketing and Finance Management remain the top picks for up-skilling. Even soft skills have become integral as working conditions have changed, and there is a  preference for those who can collaborate remotely, communicate effectively and manage their time well, without the confines of an office setup.  

Remote Hiring will be the new norm 

Since most companies will be hiring virtually in the coming year, job seekers should focus on preparing for online assessment & virtual interviews. Top HR Experts recommend getting comfortable with the webcam as campus hiring too has taken a remote approach,  and candidates are being judged on how well they adapt to situations outside their comfort zone.  

Freelancing and Part-time roles will gain popularity 

In this tough job market, job seekers should be open to freelancing and part-time jobs to gain some experience in their respective domains. Instead of only focusing on full-time roles, picking up work on a  project basis to strengthen the resume will be key and will become a tool to network with prospective clients too. 

As organizations pace up their growth plans in the coming year, a requirement for those who can help in digital transformation and develop innovative methods to deliver products and services to customers will see a rise. With companies becoming leaner, there will be an expectation to work cross-functionally and go beyond the scope of the job description. It would be interesting to see the evolution of both hiring and working in the coming year.

Zahabiya Kinkhabwala is a marketing manager at

We publish all articles under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noderivatives license. This means any news organisation, blog, website, newspaper or newsletter can republish our pieces for free, provided they attribute the original source (OpenAxis). 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s