Name: Nicole Gow
WithYouWithMe Position: Veteran Candidate Manager
ADF Background: Royal Australian Navy (2002 – 2012); Leading Seaman Stores Naval
What was the highlight of your military career?
“One of the many highlights of my military career was onboard H.M.A.S Success, where I had a number of adventurous jobs on top of my daily duties as a Naval Stores Sailor. I was a member of the boarding party team, jumping out of helicopters performing fast rope training as well as the man over board swimmer for the ship. Getting into a wetsuit and jumping overboard to rescue someone from the waters below is something I will never forget.”
Was your transition to the civilian world difficult?
“My transition from the defence force was a little different… I took my long service leave and travelled Australia in a caravan for 18 months straight. However when it was time for me to seek a civilian job, I found it awfully difficult to know which transferrable skills from the defence force I should highlight on a CV for my next employer.”
What have you learnt about transition after a few weeks in your new role?
“We have some extremely talented people leaving the defence force, many of which are not using their talents to their full potential. I have found the WithYouWithMe career pathway matching methodology is definitely making the decision easier for many veterans who don’t know what they want to do on discharge.”
What was your previous role and why did you make the move?
“Having an entrepreneurial spirit, prior to joining the WithYouWithMe team, I ran my own business from home selling Australian grown tea whilst I finished off my university degree. On completion of my degree I wanted to get back into the mainstream workforce and kick start my new career – I’m very thankful I get to do that working with a company I’m incredibly passionate about.”
Amazon Web Services is now recruiting veterans across a number of WYWM Veteran Training Academy pathways including Cyber Security, Sales and Skilled Labour. Register for our Sydney Info Night [May 3rd] to learn about the roles available at AWS and meet WYWM veterans like Irwin Moodley who have joined their team….
“I started my job hunt while I was still serving and I had no clue of where to start and how to even apply for a job. The Navy was my first career and that’s all I really knew.
I was lucky enough to have a LinkedIn account that was seen by Tom Moore who reached out and asked if I was interested in a technical job opportunity. In classic form told him that I wasn’t interested [which was a lie]. I was just scared of the unknown, I thought ‘what do I have to offer the civilian job sector?’ He gave me the registration link, leaving it in my hands to contact his team when I was ready.
I signed up not long after and the process that WYWM used to work out what career paths would be the best suited for me was really helpful, not to mention the training courses that were offered with the career path I chose. However the most valuable tools that WYWM gave me had to be the power of effective networking and how to approach interviews.
I ended up securing a role within AWS in the Data Centre Engineering Operations team. For any other veterans considering a similar path, I believe having a technical background is very important but you aren’t expected to know every technical aspect of a data centre and how it operates. I have found that Amazon are just looking for people who are highly self motivated, always willing to learn, improve and grow with the team, ‘possessing the right attitude’ so to speak.
Even though I’ve only been with Amazon for a short period of time, I can already safely say I couldn’t see myself working for any other organisation. Expectations are high but not unreasonable, everyone is very approachable at all levels and the team are extremely helpful.”
Name: Va Hart
WithYouWithMe Position: Learning & Development Manager
ADF Background: Royal Australian Navy, Lieutenant Training Systems Officer
What did you enjoy most about your military career?
“The highlight of my Navy career was the varied job roles you could get. One minute I would be assisting with the launching and landing of the helicopter onboard, the next I would be investigating training shortfalls and providing transition information. There was rarely a dull moment.”
Was your transition to the civilian world difficult?
“Yes, I felt lost and a little overwhelmed trying to sell myself to companies. For so many years I had gone from posting to posting without having to put an application together or even interview for any job. I also lost confidence in my skillset because the Navy bubble that I had been in was outdated in the Learning and Development field.”
What key piece of advice do you have for other veterans moving from the ADF into the civilian workplace?
“I was swept up in my job and relocating the family at the time of leaving and really didn’t focus on my transition plan. I kept putting it off until the last couple of weeks. Luckily during my last minute panic I decided to search for past colleagues on LinkedIn and Facebook that had already transitioned, and ask them for advice. I was told to look up the WithYouWithMe website! My greatest piece of advice is to build your network as soon as possible and work on maintaining those relationships, because you never know when you might need it.”
What do you like about working for WithYouWithMe?
“I really am blown away by the passion and drive in this company. I personally believe that our people are our greatest assets, and it’s nice to work for a company that believes in the same motto.”
In your opinion, what is the best part of the program?
“I was excited to learn how far WithYouWithMe has come in such a short time, and I’m excited about the potential scope for the WithYouWithMe Veteran Training Academy, that I have been brought on to expand. The Academy is the tool that empowers those transitioning to take control of their future by up-skilling them for a career they are passionate about. Making a difference to the men and women leaving active service is so important to me because they have already given so much and deserve to be looked after for their next career. I love that we can add so much value – and that I never have to charge a veteran a cent.”
Business Development Manager:
Responsible for the development of growth strategies and managing client relationships, Business Development Managers can expect to earn $80,000-$95,000 pa.
Robotics Process Automation Developer:
$70,000 to $90,000 – Build software ‘robots’ and design process automation solutions using industry standard techniques and RPA software.
Human Resources Consultant:
The HR Consultant is responsible for performing advanced, specialized and administrative duties in a designated human resource program or area and can expect to earn $80,000-$91,000 pa.
Inside Sales Representative:
Inside Sales Representatives work with customers to find what they want, create solutions and ensure a smooth sales process and can expect to earn $60,000-$80,000 pa.
Software engineers tend to specialize in a few areas of development, such as networks, operating systems, databases or applications, and each area requires fluency in its own set of computer languages and development environments. Software Engineers can expect to earn $75,000-$90,000 pa.
Although Adani’s Carmichael Coal Mine remains under significant political pressure, the company’s stock has continued a steady recovery from its 2015 crash, growing by 60% since October 2017 (AU$2.34 to AU$4.04). The Australian coal market has also experienced consistent price growth, currently sitting at US$106.78/metric tonne, gaining 4.56% in the last month and 27.52% in the last year. The price of Australian geothermal coal is at its highest point since March 2012. These factors indicate a regaining confidence in the growth potential of Australian coal, and thereby the possibility of job growth in the near future of the mining sector.
National unemployment in January 2018 was 5.5%, a slight decrease of 0.1 percentage points from December 2017, though labour force participation also fell by 0.1 points to 65.6%. This varies somewhat by State however as South Australia (5.9%), Queensland (6.0%) and Victoria (6.1%) all sit above the national average. New South Wales (4.8%) and the ACT (3.7%) remain the highest performers, though NSW participation (64.6%) falls below the national average.
Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra present the best opportunities for job-seekers. Jobs in these cities are plentiful and well-remunerated. Townsville and Elizabeth continue to be precarious grounds for those looking for a new career. High unemployment rates and dearth of emerging employment initiatives do not portend future growth in these regions.
*Economic insight reports monthly by WithYouWithMe Labour Market Analyst, Jonathan Walker.
We caught up with Brett McKenzie, ex-Navy Officer and now Senior Consultant at Synergy Group Australia, to chat about his time in the military and recent career transition.
Brett, congratulations on landing your new role! Before we delve into that; can you tell us about your military career?
I joined the Royal Australian Navy in 1999 as a Combat Systems Operator – Underwater (CSO-U). My training and the bulk of my subsequent 18 year career was specialised in sonar operations and anti-submarine warfare. As a CSO-U I served on 2 Adelaide Class frigates, 2 Anzac Class frigates and 3 Collins Class submarines.
I also was fortunate enough to become a Recruit Instructor at RAN Recruit School and was honoured to receive the Recruit Instructor of the Year 2008 and a subsequent Bronze Commendation for my efforts there. I deployed on a number of operations and exercises, with the highlight being a several month world tour on Operation Northern Trident ’09 which took me from Sydney through both the Suez and Panama Canals and back to Sydney with several stops along the way. I deployed to the MEAO in 2010 and returned in 2011.
Three weeks after returning from the Gulf, I started training at HMAS Creswell after having sought and being granted a Commission as an Officer, becoming a trainee Maritime Warfare Officer.
What made you decide to leave and seek civilian employment?
Anyone who knew me prior to 2017 would tell you that I was a lifer – my entire life was to be involve Navy in some way, some fashion until I was physically unable to do it anymore. However, like so many people, my own priorities changed and what I wanted from life and work no longer matched what Navy or the wider ADF could offer.
It was hard to make the decision to leave, but at no point did it feel wrong either. I knew I wanted more than what I had, especially stability, permanency and the opportunities to slow down and enjoy life rather than spend months planning the next posting, the next sea ride, the next course, the next promotion and so on.
How did you find the civilian HR process (job applications, interviews etc)?
I had taken up the opportunity to do some pre-separation training and put together a great resume that I thought translated my military career in a way that civilian recruiters and candidate assessors could understand. In the seven months between my last day in the military and first day of employment, I submitted 209 applications. I had two interviews come out of that. Feedback was scant and was usually “you didn’t fit our desired profile”. It became clear to me that even though great pains had been taken to translate my 18-year career into civilian-speak, the true value of those 18 years still didn’t filter through.
In my first interview I was asked why I had spent an average of less than two years in any one job. They didn’t understand that I was essentially in two jobs over 18 years (sailor and officer) but moved from posting to posting, base to base, ship to ship. They saw it as numerous separate jobs over 18 years and came to the opinion that I was uncommitted and wayward.
How did you hear about WithYouWithMe?
Some friends and contacts on LinkedIn had been involved with the team at WithYouWithMe in various forms, so I would see their comments and reactions from time to time. I looked into the program, afraid it was some scheme that would charge me thousands of dollars to get two diplomas or something, and came out very pleasantly surprised to find I wouldn’t be charged a cent.
What stood out in the WithYouWithMe program and really helped you personally?
From first opening the WithYouWithMe website, I knew I was looking into something very different. The concept of career pathways, of targeting your training and trajectory along one line, dedicated to a particular field was not something I had come across in other organisations or schemes. Naturally however, that left me with the question “what path DO I actually want?”.
I submitted all my military history and details and received a phone call that lasted 45 minutes where I was asked what I wanted to achieve, what I expected and where I wanted to go. After that chat, it was clear that my future lay somewhere in business and I embarked on the Business Analytics Pathway. That was the first stepping stone.
Then came training – real training, not a few PowerPoint slides with barely relevant information, but comprehensive, assessed training that required attention and thought. Every step along the way the WithYouWithMe program was a collaborative process, not some prefabricated mould I had to squeeze into.
Within a couple of months I had my second interview, and two weeks after that I had a $100k+ job in and my first step into a new career.
What sorts of careers were you considering and did you find that your military skills were transferable?
I knew I wanted something office based and business oriented. That led to consideration of perhaps IT, business administration, finance, HR and several other paths. I really didn’t think I was a natural fit for many of them – I was a submarine hunter for over 12 years and then a ship driver, what did I know about Python or anything else? Yet, when I started doing Sigma Six Green training, I was constantly thinking “oh, I’ve done that but we called it this” or “I remember when we went through that exact same process, I had no idea there was a name for it!”.
It was startling to realise just how much of my career and leadership training really translated well into the business analytics world.
What training did you complete through the WYWM Veteran Training Academy and was it helpful?
I took formal training in Sigma Six Green Belt, Intro to Business Analysis and a couple of other useful, business analyst related courses. It was intense for much of it, and yet was also all so relevant and worthwhile. That training directly led to my getting that interview and eventually an offer of employment.
Tell us about the new role you secured and the interview process.
I got a phone call from Thomas Mynott my candidate manager at WithYouWithMe telling me he thought I was an ideal candidate for this great position at Synergy Group Australia (Senior Consultant, Business Analytics). There was to be an interview, in Canberra, in about a weeks’ time. By this stage I had been on Centrelink benefits for a couple of months after my savings ran out, and I was living in Melbourne. I really wondered if it was worth flying to Canberra for a 30 minute interview with a mob I had never heard of but Thomas was keen and insistent that I would find it worthwhile. I trusted him and took a punt and am ever so glad I did.
The interview actually went from 0900 to 1600 and there were about a dozen of us in there – all veterans sent along by WYWM. It was a series of interviews, role playing, group discussions and one-on-one question and answer time. Synergy went to great lengths to really get to know us as candidates and provided a fantastic platform for us to interview them too, which I took to mean that they were very keen to get the right people and wanted to make the effort. It ended up being a fantastic assessment day and well worth the expense, even if I hadn’t been ultimately successful in securing the position.
What are you most looking forward to in your new career?
This will be a whole new world for me, but a world that I am interested in and have invested time and effort to understand and prepare for. I’m looking forward to the rewards that will come, not just from a great pay packet (though that is a bonus) but from doing work that is tangible with real, solid outcomes and results.
It sometimes felt, when I was in Navy, that all of our training and exercises and travelling and efforts didn’t really produce a viable product. There was nothing to look at and say, “I helped do that, it’s there because I helped put it there”. Very soon, I will be able to say that, and not just once, but several times as my career progresses. There are opportunities to expand and grow within the field too, different paths to take if you want. I’m looking forward to all of it.
Any advice for other veterans navigating the civilian job market?
My advice is please, do not do what I did for seven months! We don’t fit the mould of the ‘typical applicant’. Our backgrounds, training, experiences and discipline are an untapped goldmine for any industry, but we can’t demonstrate that fact through simply submitting resume and cover letter after resume and cover letter. We can’t do what a twenty-something straight out of uni can do. We need to approach the civilian job market on an oblique angle and get our foot in the door some other way.
The WithYouWithMe initial online transition course COMPAS provides so many tips on how to do that, right down to what to wear and what to say in given situations, plus how to interpret what the interviewer is really asking. Plus, the team will trains you, guides you and actively source and find the employers and open jobs that we should be applying for.
In short, my advice to other veterans seeking a civvie career is this; sign up to WithYouWithMe. It costs you nothing but dedication and hard work, and the results can be amazing.