When Australian veteran Tom Moore was discharged from the armed forces, he sent out hundreds of applications before getting a job. But the struggle to find employment spurred him on to setting up his own tech-driven veteran onboarding company.
Co-founder and Managing Director of veteran tech startup WithYouWithMe Tom Moore spent eight years in the Australian Army as an Infantry Soldier and Infantry Officer – and took forces to Afghanistan before he was injured.
Once recovered and discharged, he found it very hard to find work.
“I was unprepared in terms of knowing what jobs I should go after, unclear about the skills and experience I would need,” Moore says. “And I had no idea that so much hiring in the professional world was through word-of-mouth.”
After a year developing his skills and learning how to build software, Moore launched his own platform: WithYouWithMe to guide veterans into meaningful work by empowering individuals and partnering with the private sector.
Leaving the military: the great unknown
Australian society has struggled to manage the transition of veterans into the workplace because they don’t understand the military lifestyle, career, experiences and skills, says Moore.
Given that the current figure for veteran unemployment or underemployment is around 40 per cent, it shouldn’t be surprising that mental health issues are a common experience among veterans, including depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
It’s one reason why Moore determined that a private sector-driven recruitment and talent management program needed to speak to veterans while they were still serving.
How does it work?
In a nutshell, the program – completely free to veterans – matches individuals, their personal characteristics, profile and skill set, to organisations looking for those skills.
Several months before a member of the military is due to be discharged, they will get started on the WithYouWithMe program. The program’s software allows mentees to create a military profile and personality assessment, which helps the program’s Job Fit Algorithm allocate them to the right job pathway.
Then, the veteran receives an induction package, which allows them to connect with an ex-service person who will mentor them through the process.
Once the veteran has zeroed in on a career that appeals to them, they are partnered with a professional within the industry who helps build word-of-mouth referral while they upskill through on-the-job training and work experience.
“We don’t tell veterans what kinds of jobs to go for – we’ve found you get better results if you allow that person to intrinsically define that this is their pathway,” says Moore.
“For example, if a veteran tells us ‘I want to do this course or I want to work at this company’, we build a plan to help them achieve that, and at the same time we partner with businesses to establish pathways to deliver the best veteran talent to their workforce.”
In Moore’s opinion, combining tech with face-to-face interactions is key to success. The technology allows veterans to develop their own personal career pathways and the mentorship program gives the veteran the emotional support network to navigate the process.
Meaningful work; it helps veterans in more ways than one
That factor that sets his company apart (and goes above what’s offered by the public sector), says Moore, is that the career ambitions of veterans need to be placed front and centre.
“I want to solve our veteran transition program in Australia and I think it’s underemployment,” he says. “One in two vets is doing a job for which they’re overskilled, underpaid or underutilised in terms of the hours they’re working.”
Meaningful work, aligned strongly with an individual’s aptitudes and skill set – and at a level on-par with their responsibilities in the Armed Forces – gives veterans a stake in their future success and a sense of ownership of their civilian life. It’s also a core factor in helping to combat the mental health issues.
“A huge part of removing PTSD is meaningful work and a sense of purpose. Same with depression, same with homelessness. We’ve seen heaps of medical terminations where people have thought that they would never work again. Then we’ve tested them, found out they can do operational management and worked with a business where they are not only hired, but paid at a high rate.”
Good pay doesn’t solve everything, says Moore, but it does provide the self-esteem and security to assist manage other issues.
As for Moore, it’s reward enough to see veterans succeed within their chosen industries. It’s important that he and other veterans are able to provide that support because, as he says, “I know how dark those days are.”
Find out more about WithYouWithMe here.