‘Wasta’ : Does it really work?
Syed came to UAE a month back and has been job hunting. Although there have been only couple of interviews, he has been happy with the progress. Remo arrived in UAE just a week back, attended the same interview Syed attended and has already been placed at the trading company. Possible?! Remo could have been better qualified, skilled or more suitable for the position. However, both Syed and Remo are equally qualified with similar experience. However, there is a more information. Remo has a friend in the company who knew the recruiter, and the recruiter selected Remo for the position. In short, Remo used his Wasta!
If you have been in UAE for some time, you would have most probably known this word: “WASTA“. It means different things to different people. Wasta for me means a easier way of getting things done or a shortcut to achieving an objective. When you visit fish market the vendor may provide you a higher discount without much haggling; because you have a Wasta with him. For a Sales Manager ‘Wasta’ may mean winning new contracts to his/her company. Because the person knew someone and this resulted in the person giving priority to the sales manager.
This does not mean Wasta is illegal!! It is just a way of utilising a known resource to save some bucks and achieve smaller wins.
Job search and Wasta!
I have heard it many times! ‘Oh, he found that job because he has Wasta with the Manager.’ This happens mostly in scenarios where one person gets the job with ease while others have been at it for a long time. Knowing a person at a company does help; however, it is up to the company decision makers to decide which candidate gets the job.
Does having ‘Wasta’ help in getting a job?
Yes, sure it does help getting into a company when you know someone at the company who is a decision maker. Not only is the process of job interview and decision swift, you end up not struggling to get a job. I have recently heard that in UAE it is only through reference that you get a job! May be true. Not in my case though!! Up until now, wherever that I have worked, I never used my personal contacts to get a job. But since many say it is possible, it may as well be true!!
Is Wasta bad?
Wasta if used for unproductive situations, is bad. When there are candidates who are not equally qualified and the less qualified get selected because he/she has a Wasta, this is not healthy for the company and the management. Wasta need not always have negative connotations.
Is Wasta unique in UAE?
Wasta is not unique to UAE. In India, where I come from, it’s called ‘Jugaad’. It’s a way to achieve an objective by using shortcuts or your connections. The shortcut could be a positive or negative!! I would suppose having Wasta while finding job is definitely a positive one.
How are companies dealing with it?
In recent times, larger companies are implementing greater scrutiny and internal controls on recruitment process, purchasing process, tendering process to reduce such practices. Companies have realised that in the long term, a proper and transparent process will do good for the company’s future.If Wasta is used in all walks of life without any control, it can be counter productive and harmful to the growth of the company. Systems have been put in place to reduce the negative impacts of this practice. Having said that, I don’t deny that the practise still exists.
How to develop Wasta?
Wasta comes from your network. You must develop a healthy network of connections for mutual help. This way it can be used for productive purposes rather than just for selfish purposes. There are several ways, through your friends, your ex-colleagues, a known business person and so on. It is called your circle of influence.
Below tips will be useful for you to develop your circle of influence:
- To be influential, keep in touch with your friends. It should be mutual and not one way;
- Be in contact with your superiors even if you have left your job;
- Attend events and conferences to get introduced to different people and increase your contact circle;
- Make genuine effort to help others, not only receiving help. Don’t be selfish;
- Be reachable;
- Be in constant communication with your friends, colleagues;
- Get together with your close contacts over a coffee and be interested in their conversation;
- Be genuine.
The above tips are not the only ones. There may be other ways of developing your network.
Have you ever used Wasta? Do you think it works here? Let me know in the comments below.