Nissar Ahamed’s blog, CareerMetis, has a community-focused approach to career discussion and has earned Nissar great respect amongst his peers. We had a chance to speak with Nissar about the challenges facing young professionals today and how the face of leadership has changed in recent years.
Why did you choose to start a blog – and why did you name it CareerMetis.com?
I started the blog to share ideas and resources for job-seekers in order to speed up the time it takes them to find gainful employment.
I personally know about the challenges involved when searching for a job, since I have had to look for a new job multiple times in my career. During those moments, I have spent lots of time researching best practices and learning from experts/coaches (sometimes utilizing paid coaching). Based on the knowledge base I had built up and the best practices I had learned, I created CareerMetis.com to act as a resource for other job seekers and career professionals to help them with their career.
The name Metis comes from Greek mythology and ancient Greek religion. It means wisdom or skill or craft. Zeus himself was referred to as the “The Wise Counsellor.” My intention with this blog is to be my readers’ wise counsellor in their quest to gain employment and grow their careers.
What are some of the hottest topics about careers that you’re seeing on your blog right now?
a) Personal Branding is a topic I hear a lot about from my guest authors and podcast guests. As the market becomes more competitive, it is becoming more and more difficult to cut through the noise. If a candidate does the same thing everyone is doing, he/she is not making it any easier for himself/herself. Therefore, it is absolutely vital to stand out. And that is where personal branding comes in. It could mean improving one’s presence on LinkedIn and/or creating a personal blog. In addition, it can also mean becoming a subject matter expert or thought leader in his/her field.
b) Video Interviews – Technology is making it easier for recruiters and hiring managers to reach out and speak with multiple candidates. Video interviews (via Skype, Hangouts, etc.) are becoming very common. Employers are using Skype/Google Hangouts to reach and screen new graduates without even visiting their campuses.
c) Freelancing – Surprisingly, this is one of the most written about topics on our site. Ideas like freelancing are becoming extremely popular among Millennials. An increasing number of young professionals are working on some type of a side project either to build their personal brands or for generating additional income.
In years past, career advancement was often characterized by gunning for internal promotions and/or moving to different offices/locations around the country. How do today’s career advancement strategies differ from that model?
Working for the same company for extensive periods of time is becoming less prevalent. Numerous studies have confirmed that the average tenure for young professionals is only 2-3 years as opposed to 20-30 years for previous generations.
Culture is one of the most important things young professionals look for in their new roles. If they don’t perceive a potential employer to have the right culture, then they might not take the job offer (not matter how good the pay is). The trend is now shifting, and employers are improving their attractability to win over more Millennial candidates. Take any Glassdoor review for example. A poor Glassdoor review means the employer has already eliminated itself as a choice for the candidate.
How do the career goals or paths for Millennials differ from those of previous generations?
Millennials value autonomy and meaning over job stability. Since they seek different values in their lives and careers, their career paths are also different.
How has the emergence of job-related Internet technologies (like videoconferencing, virtual collaboration, telecommuting, etc.) changed the way that people pursue their career paths?
Technology has made it easier for individuals to take more control over their careers. It is not uncommon to hear about individuals ditching their cubicles in favor of telecommuting/remote work.
Cloud applications such as videoconferencing (Skype), and collaboration tools (Office 365, Slack) are making it easier for individuals to work from anywhere. Remote work is becoming more and more common.
More and more young professionals are also ditching their corporate jobs in pursuit of self-employment. Thanks to the Internet, more and more entrepreneurs are created each and every day. Technology has reduced the barrier to entry; and as a result, more individuals are taking the risk (even if it is just for a short-term).
When it comes to leadership, what are some of the common trends or issues that you’re seeing these days?
The Top Down Authoritative leadership style is no longer working. Today, unless a leader is empathetic, caring, and transparent, it is hard for them to build a solid and reliable following. I know this sounds almost new-age, but the shift is already happening.
A company like Microsoft is a classic example. Microsoft, which was once a technology behemoth space, was losing its market share in the 2000s under the previous leadership (Steve Ballmer). They were alienating their customers and partners, and they were losing credibility on all fronts.
Enter Satya Nadella in 2014, who completely changed the culture. The company changed its focus to improving their customers’ lives and enhancing partner relationships. The shift has truly paid off; recently, Microsoft stock reached pre-1999 highs. And it all started two years ago through a culture of empathy, transparency, and putting others (employees/partners/customers) first.
What are some of the steps that people are taking today to develop, nurture, and/or improve their leadership skills?
They are starting to take the idea of leadership seriously. Numerous studies have proven that leadership is not an innate quality. One is not born a leader, but is built using diligent practice, patience, and persistence. That’s why it’s important to hone your skills, learn as much as you can about, leadership, study the experts, and start applying yourself.
It is important to understand the clear distinction between leadership and management. Managers manage expectations, and leaders lead with their strong visions and a sense of purpose.
So if you’re a young professional, you should take your career seriously. Volunteer for additional responsibilities at your company. Take management/leadership lessons. Enroll in courses such as Dale Carnegie, Toastmasters, leadership coaching, etc. Leadership is a skill-set that can be learned and strengthened, but only by practice and relentless application.
What are some of the biggest challenges that people will face in the future when it comes to navigating their careers?
Technology and innovation will create more industries; more new jobs and careers will be created. On the flipside, many jobs/careers will also be lost. So this is the first challenge – the rate of innovation will make it harder to keep up. Industries that were steady will disappear and will be replaced by new industries.
With this challenge also comes great opportunities. For the right person with the right mindset and skill-set, this will pose a great advantage. The right candidate will not have to worry about him/her losing a job. One job will be easily replaced with a new one (if you are agile enough to adapt).
Another challenge for everyone will be to stay focused on the existing path he/she has chosen. Too many career options can also mean more distractions. If someone is a strong candidate, he/she will not have a shortage of job opportunities or offers. However, it will be difficult to choose one path. No particular industry is better than another, but it will be harder to make the decision.