Stories of WYWM- Djamila Zergour

My name is Mila, I am 34 years old, I grew up in a small village near of the Spanish borders in the south of France. 

I joined the French military at the age of 18, as an antitank missiles shooter in the land forces.  

When you leave the military, the transition agency only connects you to job offers based on your current degree or your previous job experience in the civilian, there is not much follow up and more than 15 years later, the system hasn’t changed and the institution still doesn’t have the capability to evaluate your potential, to match your profile with the best fit opportunities.  

As many soldiers from the ground, I had none of this.  

Before serving, I only reached the last level of high school graduation and indeed, as a missiles shooter it was impossible to find an equivalent job in the civilian but I used other human skills to build a project on my own: adaptability, organisation and resilience. 

I had to identify my strengths and weaknesses to define what to upskill, using what could be valuable in my profile for the industry and finding key factors of success to achieve my project. 

 It has been a pretty long way with obstacles all along the journey so I had to be fierce and involve myself in a continuous learning and improvement process. 

Without knowing it, I succeeded following the WYWM methodology!    

I completed a Business Engineering Degree and I started building a career of more than 10 years in the leading companies of the Defence Industry. 

As a kid, I always been curious and interested in learning, pretty much about everything (which was certainly exhausting for my parents!) as I constantly need intellectual stimulation.  

I am interested in philosophy, sciences, geopolitics and I developed the fantastic ability to learn foreign languages in a very short time, listening songs. 

But who cares about that? Seriously, in nowadays society, who cares about our human abilities? 

These are as many valuable skills that allows me to succeed in a working environment, as this multidisciplinary approach gives me the ability to think out of the box, to solve business and understand technical problems pretty quickly.  

Before joining WYWM, I was in Australia for one year and I was struggling to find a job as  I had no experience in the Australian market. After more than 10 years’ experience in the world’s biggest international companies, I was lacking experience! Does it make sense?! 

 As long as recruiters are hiring on experience, there will still be something missing, even when it doesn’t make sense! 

WYWM is born to trigger the cultural switch!       

It is 6 months that I am onboard and more than a Company, I can genuinely say that I have found a family.  

A safe place where I can be myself to experiment, fail and learn, and grow.   

 I am working as an Engagement Manager, supporting Companies in succeeding Digital and WF Transition and more than everything:  In WYWM I am Mila and I am a Translator, everyone knows my name and value my skills, I can really be myself and grow.  

My advice to people would be: Don’t wait no more to take the ownership of your Journey, If you want to discover about how WYWM is helping people like me, not only Veterans but People in its entire diversity to reach their potential? Visit our website and start the journey!  

Stories of WYWM - My Story by Michael Wagner

In the spring of 2020, I decided to make some changes in my life.  After 30 plus years in uniform, I wanted something more, I was not going to get promoted, and the army and civlian jobs that I was offered were just sole-sucking.  During a sleepless night, mindless scrolling through Facebook, I came across an ad for WithYouWithMe.  At first, I thought it was click bate but went for it anyway.  It took me to a webpage, where I registered and did some testing.  At this point, I still did not think it was real. It was a link on Facebook, and I believed it was just some data collection tool used by companies to target me with ads. 

Shortly after the test, I was called by someone in the company called Veteran Success, and they encouraged me to take a course. I believed this was some scam, and once I registered for a class, they would require my credit card number.  Well, that did not happen, and I continued to get calls and emails encouraging me and showing me potential jobs.  Then it happened I received an email with open positions listed, and for the first time in a long time, I decided to be fierce (bold) and returned the email outlining that one of those jobs was made for me.  To make a short story long, and after a couple of interviews, I got the job—all along asking myself if this company was too good to be real. To be clear, WithYouWithMe is the real deal.  

During this time, I became a single father of 9+1 (the plus one it is too hard to explain) children (7 still at home, three special needs), as my marriage of 25 years ended abruptly.  In addition, I left the only job I had as an adult, the Canadian Army.   Talk about getting out of your comfort zone.  But from that moment, I joined this great company I have attempted daily to keep the value of being fierce front and centre.   If I were not fierce and overcome my negative beliefs, I would still be in a soul-sucking job and not part of this great organization that means what it says and says what it means.   

Stories of WYWM - Not Just Words on the Wall by Cindy David

Not just Words on the Wall       

I am proud to say that I have completed week ONE with WYWM but my journey with this organization and our values started on day 1, the day I saw a LinkedIn job posting for the instructor position.  

From the very beginning, WYWM's values were at the forefront. The initial application consisted of explaining my understanding of said values & how I would live them out in my work.  

And thus, my journey into our values began... 

Be fierce. 

I am a single mom who worked within my comfort zone of financial services for 18yrs with no tech experience. It actually took me 2 weeks to build up the courage to write and send my application email. (I promise Jimmy, my pace will be quicker on the job) 

This taught me to shoot my shot. To be fierce and to believe in my own Potential.  

Kait contacted me the next day. After getting to know me a little bit and learning about my Why, she moved me along to the WYWM testing phase. 

Be the Customer. 

Ohhhh boy...that portion where they took a box apart and you had to visualize it back together? Not my strong point.  

Nonetheless, I was amazed with how accurate my results were to who I am. It gave me insight into what the customer sees, the value and reasoning of our testing and how we really do harness Potential over experience. 

Be Curious. 

As I hopefully waited for another email, I had already watched a multitude of WYWM videos and testimonials on all social media platforms. I was captivated and determined. 

I was then booked my technical interview with Jimmy! 

I was asked to explain Exploratory Data Analysis using Excel Pivot Tables. (I will be transparent all my years of banking, I 'looked' at many excel spreadsheets -that was the extent of my knowledge) 

So..I went on a 2 day hunt, asked questions, gathering insight thru people I knew in data and taking free online courses to learn the subject matter. 

(True story -a bat flew into my home as I was on my final loom filming draft..but that tale of sheer horror is for another time.) 

Be Transparent. 

I was so proud to have made it thru the technical portion. I then met Josh and Joel for the most interesting Culture fit interview.  

I was caught off guard by some of the questions but looking back, they put me in a position where I could choose to play the standard interviewee and give all the 'perfect' answers or be transparent. 

Thanks to all of you who played a part in the interview process as well as the first week of Onboarding. You have already challenged me immensely. I am beyond excited to see how holding true to these values will grow me, my teammates, our company and especially the people we serve. 

I truly believe WYWM's values are not just words on the wall. Not tag lines. Not empty corporate slogans.  

At least, not if we intentionally live them out and make them our my case, as always, I chose pink 😉 

Stories of WYWM - Pablo Quintana

Stories of WYWM - Why Marina on the Go by Marina Theologus

Why Marina on the Go,

Well growing up we were always on the move, I attended six elementary schools and one two high schools here in western Canada where I grew up. I have lived in over 40 homes and I have gone through my fair share of transition. I was a child of a single mother, neurodiverse and liked to challenge the system.

I have had to advocate for myself when it came to the school system of my needs and in other cases faced discriminating Teachers head on. In the 90’s it was still a place where some male teachers felt it was okay to say this sport is not for girls. I had to go through the principle to get these individuals removed from their Coaching roles.

Yes, I identify as female and yes, I wanted to be a wrestler and play on the rugby team. As a neurodiverse youth I had difficulty within the mainstream school system and in the 90’s we had moved from having a government that supported those requiring extra supports to removing funding to support children requiring extra assistance or individual learning plans. This led to a combined issue of frustration and disruption in the school environment.

Once I started to become involved in contact sports, I realized this was a place I naturally excelled. Due to being lower income, I also had to balance a part-time job from age 14 onward to be able to afford the gear and trips associated with going on Sports trips. Surprisingly, my behaviour and concentration inmoved as I was able to count on my teammates to also assist me through encouragement and study supports.

I remember the day I chatted with my teacher suggesting we needed a tablet that could translate my notes into words on the screen back in 1995. He looked and me and suggested hopefully this technology would one day exist and here we are. My learning differences are here to stay, my processing disorder does change and 8mt abilities grow as I learn to utilize the tools around me.

My Processing Disorder according to my Educational Psychological assessment highlighted a few things. #1 I have a unique lens that I see the world through

#2 The areas where I am weaker are manageable with the right supports, technology, and accommodations

#3 Man I love data, I loved how it showed me a bell curve and the why behind the frustrations inside. I am in the 99 percentile for perceptual organization, that means I visually can remember things as they visually were better that 99% of my peers with same age and learning background. I was however only in the 5% percentile for reading and writing comprehension with those same peers. Therefore, it was harder for me to do research on unknow new topics and materials and then in a clear format present that concept, my understanding and in turn developing my own social work praxis.

I am also chameleon; I can fit in anywhere and have a good sense of self and due to all my transition, I am well versed in the complex nature of relationships.

I have been a Forces Spouse for many years now and my background set me up perfect for this type of on-the-go lifestyle. I have a natural ability to understand how people feel being somewhere new and having to start over. I am also used to the sad fact of feeling excluded or feeling different. This often happens when military families try to connect with local established friendships. We find there are many that just do not have the mental capability to fit any new people into their lives especially if it is for a 2-year posting.

As a young child with learning challenges and behavioural issues due to the compounded fact that I was neurodiverse and did not have supports and I had to attend 6 different schools I frequently “fell between the cracks” and was mislabelled a difficult child. Compassion is a difficult skill to teach others, I honestly do not know how I came about it. If I were to take a guess it was through all those places of being different myself. I would not change who I am for anything. I will however use any nugget of new knowledge or technology to support me.

In 2007, I went through a significant evaluation to receive my “Disability” designation. I am so thankful that now the world is seeing one another through a differently-abled lens. I started to used mind mapping software and the university I was attending was then forces to provide me alternative text format so I could read it through my reading software. The teachers were forces to allow me access to my computer and recording classed. This was a game changer.

To think now we accept people’s word on their neurodiversity, and I had to go through over a 40-hour assessment to prove I was disabled enough to be provided any additional considerations is wild. I am so thankful that our children and university students have Microsoft 360 and smart phones with amazingly helpful apps at their fingertips. That we have Miro free mind mapping chat rooms. That companies like WYWM are opening their doors to all of us free of charge to learn at our own pace and provide us opportunities to discover new strengths based on our potential.

Many friends I have referred through to the testing are initially scared of it and so afraid to screw up. This is a consequence of our school systems failure to bring us up with confidence. We do have in an ability to be perfect just the way we are, but this is a learned understanding. Schools were not a place for to do this in many cases and instead they instilled in us in a place of constant fear that we are not the 1% that will get that job, the fear that we are not good enough so why even try.

But they were wrong, we are all capable of amazing growth and have our own unique insights to give. Share your ideas, be a change agent for those around you to improve the process.

Everyone has the potential for upward mobility. What I mean by this is that just because you have not done something before or anyone you know like you have not does not mean it is not possible.

Everything is possible, you just have not done it “Yet” or it has not been created “Yet” or thought of that way “Yet.”

Keep your heart, eyes, and mind open, not only to learning but to others. Help break down the real and invisible barriers you feel, and others feel upon themselves. Don’t be afraid to ask the questions what would help you?

I have just recently returned to Canada after a 3-year OUTCAN (Canadian Armed Forces Spouse overseas) position during this world Coronavirus Pandemic. I was in a place where everything was new, and I was required to do things outside of my comfort zone on the daily sometimes. My Spouse and I took our children to many (over 10) countries around Europe including 5 during the pandemic. We said okay this is different, what do we have to do to stay safe and make this happen. We were isolated away from our family and could not return home due to our home country disallowing us to return without hotel quarantine. This is the same thing in a different situation. We had a problem; we did our best to find solutions. We did not want our children to feel think that our one piece of the world was the only important place on Earth, they learned that we together can travel in countries where English is not spoken, they learnt new words quickly to get what they needed on the fly.

We homeschooled and had to update or home rules on technology access due to having to go online for schooling, we helped our kids in Year 1 and Year 3 complete coding lessons and use interactive tools. Thank goodness we had the ability to purchase computers and take the time to support them. Once again here I was taking on a new roll as teacher. This is how life works. We are lifelong learners, now employers are willing to give working from home a go for their staff. Because who honestly wants to babysit a bunch of adults. We are learning to Trust one another and support one another in new ways.

Self care and work-life balance “The Myth” or “the Unicorn of jobs” was something that was talked about before the pandemic, but not until the whole world structure of how thing were went to shit did employers actually consider this. Before the Pandemic I had to leave my job of 10 years doing digital caseload management with the Province of BC as it was considered impossible to let a person such as myself work from home and manage confidential information from home. But 18 months later they did exactly that, sent every worker home with a laptop and said, do your essential service work from home while caring for your children. I missed the boat on that. But I am happy to see that now my previous co-workers can log on at 7am, run kids to school at 8:45am and pick up at 2:30pm and still be considered valuable members of a team. They are now kickin ass on their work teams and their home teams as parents. People will give you 100% when they feel valued.

I personally love the office, I miss spending time with my coworkers in the flesh, however from working with many different individuals internationally and virtually I can honestly say I still feel connected. We have all been through this pandemic together and understand how isolating it can be. Some of us have been through some insane levels of isolation and quarantine. This provides compassion for one another. Understanding for one another. Many on the team I work within are Veterans or Military Spouses often we have spent years isolated and away form those we love and have external factors placed upon us that we legally cannot challenge openly. Imposed restriction from Spouses, extended deployments, being forces to move across the country or internationally from our jobs losing our jobs and deleting years of employment progress. Things like Linkedin are helping, allowing us a way to stay connected with past co-workers/ teammates/ managers, But the system is not yet perfect. I am so proud to work for WYWM who is reaching out to these people in real, tangible and meaningful ways.

I am currently working in the basement of my Starbucks Manager’s (21years ago we worked together) home; she had space and is sharing it with me. She works 3 floors up in her office working for an insurance company and myself down here for WYWM. We built a bond 20 years ago and committed to supporting one another. These types of relationships and friendships do not come often. As I mentioned I am just completing a Forces move home and I am going to be living in a hotel for probably 2 more months on top of the 2 months we have already done. Be a person that can show up in real ways for others.

We meet at noon for lunch, we have a morning coffee break, we keep checks on one another’s mental health and physical health. Be Brave and speak into on another’s lives. PTSD is something many people in the Forces or from the Forces struggle with. This Pandemic has exacerbated this problem, do your check ins. Try to think of one person you know may need one a week and do a reach out. This could literally save a life. Humans are meant to live within community and fear is holding many of us back. Know that sending a text message or a quick phone call cannot spread Coronavirus, it only opens communication.

I really want to thank you for reading my story of who I am, where I have come from and why I am so thankful to be here today. I know many people are hurting and the world is uneasy, but there is just so much to learn and do to make this ride called Life better we all need to step up. One step at a time is all I ask. Pick something manageable for you. Find something to be passionate about.


Marina (your average not so average girl)

Potential - Tom Larter's Top Ten Truth Bombs to Team Leaders


Tom's Truth Bombs: 10 key thoughts on business, talent, and growing teams 

We all want a service provider we can trust to work with us to reach the best possible solution for a project. When we bring an outsider in to consult we want to see workable, practical and cost effective solutions. We want to know that the advice we are getting is tested and proven on the “Business Battleground” - and is the right fit for our business. 

WithYouWithMe Chief Customer Officer Tom Larter has been handling Sales and Customer relations since the company was born. I sat him down the other day and picked his brains on the ten most common “Truth Bombs” he finds himself delivering to customers and stakeholders. 

We call them Truth Bombs because if you haven’t heard them before they are like a lightbulb moment with TNT explosive– they tend to make quite an impression! 



“I borrowed this one from an advisor, but it really resonates” says Tom.  

You’ve spent a lot of time and resources hiring the right talented people with the right skills then and the right culture fit now. Sadly, you’re facing the impact of technology changing your jobs and demanding more of the business. You will never be able to hire net new talent as fast as skills change. You also don’t want a reputation as a company with high staff turnover rates from a ‘fire and hire’ mentality.  

Building skills every week and investing in your people will help you solve your talent shortage faster than you think. Identifying employee raw potential and matching to skills your business needs is a great strategy. 

Your people have always been talented – and it’s likely they have hidden skills and aptitudes that you have never seen in the workplace. You just need to unlock their hidden potential and bring their skills up to date.  

A WithYouWithMe Potential assessment and follow-on Bootcamp is one way you can quickly and efficiently upgrade the skills of your talented team. One hour per day over five days Instructor Led Training on any of our Pipeline subjects – Data, Cyber Security, Process Automation, Project Management, IT, and Cloud  - with new products being added all the time.  



“This one was coined by our CEO and makes so much sense that you won’t know where you went wrong”. TL 

Your Business Data is the lifeblood of your business. You need to know that it is accurate, relevant, up to date and secure. You’d rather lock all that vital information away in a safe but sadly – you have to let your employees see and use it – greatly increasing the possibility that somebody is going to really mess something up. As much as you might like to you don’t have time to stand over their shoulders and watch every step they take. If you are going to do that you might as well do their job for them. 
It’s tempting to lock your employees down to tightly with controls because its easier to teach people how to follow the rules than to change their ways of working. Rule bound teams can give the illusion of being safer but ultimately they slow the business down. 

Here’s why rules and controls don’t work.  

The impact of technology does present risks to security and privacy - we know this. Technology also presents a large upside for growth and optimisation of your workforce. Giving your employees the skills to use new tools, systems, and data more competently and accurately empowers them to move fast. Everyone wants their job to be easier and everyone hates process.  

Control heavy organisational Big Data management is a classic example. Excessive organisational controls around data slow down time to decisions, increase both time to customer response and time to insight – slowing down the whole business. Digitally skilled workforces reduce time to decisions, speed up response to customers and supercharge the ability of the team to respond to insight.  

Your employees need to be able to mix things up, compare things and inject new datasets into the table without having to go through 5 layers of process.  

The answer is to enable your employees with the skills to explore ideas effectively and enact solutions for themselves. Sure – they’re going to make mistakes – but they’ll also know how to drive business growth without having to wait for your personal involvement.  

The best way to protect the integrity of your data is to ensure that the people using it are as highly skilled as possible. 



As soon as you start researching products for a digital upgrade it’s likely you are going to be bombarded with all of the “latest and greatest” new ideas and software developments. Let’s face it - artificial intelligence, machine learning and process automation are exciting and powerful cutting edge tools. Most human beings want to be able to say that they are using the latest and the greatest. In many cases though applying these exciting new tools to your business pain point might be like bringing a cannon to a boxing match – massive overkill.  
Ask yourself first if your workforce is using your existing tools to their maximum potential. If the answer is “probably not” – then your cost effective solution is likely to be training your people to maximise the potential of the digital tools they already have. If your people are not comfortable using the everyday tools – they are unlikely to fall in love with the more complex ones.  

Try the simple solution with the tools that you have at hand before you spend capital on tools that you may not necessarily need.  



WYWM believes in a future where humans dictate how machines will work – not the other way around. Build the digital skills of your team to prepare for the future of technology and show them a positive career trajectory. 

Machines can not create, machines will never be able to make the intuitive leap of true genius. There will always be a problem that a machine can not solve where the only solution is found via the involvement of a human being.  



Straight from Tom’s mouth: 

“Many of the most in demand skills in industry right now are not that technical. You don’t need a team of PHds. You don’t need a team of highly experienced technicians. You need critical thinkers, abstract reasoners and good communicators. You can train analysts and apply those skills in Data, Cyber, Automation, AI and much more. Ground your team in fundamental skills & industry leading tools and you will progress.” 



“More and more job descriptions are showing their irrelevance for talent attraction. People want to know how exciting the work is, what the team culture is like and what skills they will need every day.” 

The pace of evolution of digital and technical skill sets is always going to be fast and iterative - and it’s only going to get faster. The only people who really know what technical skills are required for a task are the technicians themselves. Even the most motivated HR professional drafting the job description will be unlikely to have a clear understanding of which technical skills will be critical to the role and which will be optional extras.  

Even the best intentioned and most transparent Hiring Manager will be naturally reluctant to admit that the new hire they made has the wrong skill set – so the tendency is to craft the job description to mitigate risk. Fishermen know that if they cast the net wide they will get more fish – but will they get the fish they need?  



Instead of thinking about the best person with the right skills sets to achieve a task, think about which skills and dynamics will complement each other in the best way.  

Mapping the skills, aptitude and potential of your team members is the best way to gain visibility on where your team members are likely to contribute to success and growth. 

Good teams learn to work together – Superteams fit together from the start.  



Accept the fact that the new digital capability you purchased started the countdown to obsolescence on the day the design was completed. Are you focusing exclusively on your next digital upgrade when you should also be thinking about the second, third, eighth and tenth upgrade?  

You can’t replace your team every time you upgrade your tech. You can’t afford the loss in production caused by a long post upgrade scramble to upskill. Your only real choice is to make that period as short, efficient and painless as possible for your team. You don’t want to be fighting resistance and confusion every time you introduce new tech into the workflow.  

If you want a team that can move smoothly and happily through tech upgrades - skills training is the answer. If you want a team with the capacity to grow happily and smoothly into the digital future of your business- mapping potential and skills training is the answer. 



Are you training your team to do their job to meet regulatory requirements– or are you growing potential thought leaders in your business? Do you want future Masters or just a team of experienced Apprentices? If you only train your team to meet compliance regulations you are unlikely to be accessing all of their potential.  

Apprentices work with a limited toolbox and have to be closely supervised. Masters make their own tools or repurpose any tool in the workshop to achieve an innovative and creative solution. When you only train for compliance you are only training apprentices with limited skill sets. When you train for skills and capability you are growing your business Masters.  



If you can build a Superteam with a Growth Mindset the pot of gold at the end of the Rainbow is going to look like pocket change.  

Any Business owner or manager these days can tell themselves that their team has all the access they need to any learning they want via the internet – and it’s mostly true. We recommend you ask yourself few questions: 

Are my people curious enough? 

Do my people feel safe to spend “work time” learning and teaching others? 

Do we recognise and celebrate new learning in our team? 

Do my people feel they need permission to explore opportunities and take risks?  

Does your culture connect what needs to be learnt to individual and business growth?  

Does your training speak to long term business and personal career goals?    

If you’ve answered “No” to any of these questions then we can help you build a Growth and Learning Mindset in your Team. Register and book a call at to unlock the Potential in your people.

Potential - Taking Data Driven HCM to the Next Level

You’ve already got a Human Capital Management (HCM) System that you are comfortable with. It tracks everything you need to know about your employees. You can see what training they’ve done, what promotions (or demotions) they’ve had, where they’ve worked and how much you pay them. 

You can see what your people have done and where they’ve been but can you see who they are? 

Why do you need to know?  

We don’t know of any other HCM system that knows your people as well as Potential does.  

So what?  

A lot of people are talking right now about a Digital Revolution that is “on its way”. If you’re telling yourself that this “pending Digital Revolution” hasn’t arrived yet then it has already left you and your team behind.  

How are your people responding to the pace of change? Do they struggle to learn new technology on the job? Do your people fear change in the workplace? How much control are you really giving them over their own workload? How much ownership do your employees really have in their areas of responsibility? How comfortable are they really to experiment and risk manage new situations? Are they really engaged with their work or are they just warming a seat while they look for a vocation they like better?  

You’re thinking a piece of software can’t solve those problems for you – and you’re right. 

Potential won’t make your decisions for you. Potential won’t talk to your people for you. Potential won’t train your people for you. Potential won’t wave a wand and magically give your teams a growth mindset. Potential won’t lead your people for you.  

What Potential will do is show you insight on why the Creative in your team hates work that is repetitive and boring – and why the Doer probably excels at it. What Potential will do is show you why Creatives and Doers usually need a Translator to work together happily. What Potential will do is show you why Doers are the best people to drive change against resistance.  

Most of all – Potential will show you who these people are in your team. Data driven Human Capital Management at the most fundamental level. 





Stories of WYWM - Transition Services by Andy Ronalds


  Year 17, decide to quit at 20.  Year 20, intend to quit.  Year 25.5 actually quit.  Where did I go wrong?  Did I not follow the transition steps right?  Was I just not a good enough human being to be employed anywhere other than the Army?  Why, if everybody is telling me I have so much to offer, is nobody giving me a job? 

So spoiler alert, I did get a job.  And not just a job but a career I’m excited about that I hope will carry me all the way to the finish line.  Other spoiler alert, it had absolutely nothing (almost) to do with any advice I got along the way from any of the transition services who “helped” me out.  As sincere as the intentions of most of the contracted service provider individuals were, their help amounted to years of struggles, depression, bitterness and 2 tiny positives.  I heard about LinkedIn for the first time through one of them. And one line stuck with me about interviews: “Be yourself.  If they hire you based on somebody you’re pretending to be, do you really want to pretend to be something you’re not for 20 years?”. 

What did I expect / want / hope for?  I was naïve.  I thought the CF transition group had this magical pile of jobs that were held exclusively for vets.  And that they paid well.  And that they recognized our informal training and “soft skills”. And that is was streamlined and easy. 

What services did I experience?  A couple SCAN seminars, because they say you should attend them frequently as benefits and options change.  A n initial release interview where I was handed a folder 2 inches thick with a bunch of stuff highlighted that was explained to me in a half hour info session.  Surprise, surprise, 90% of that info left my brain before I walked out of the office. And a CTW where: 

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve witnessed first hand a lot of successes in transitions.  But the vast majority fall into 2 categories: 

  1. The services were tied to a medical release.  It is my observation that that opens a lot of other doors such as actual priority hire, paid re-training that is coupled with a cost of living allowance that can let you go to school and not work, financial supports and better access to assistance.  I’m not saying these providers are very good either, I’m just saying that there are more to be accessed. 
  1. The vet did 99% of it on their own without the help of a service provider.  Whether they landed a job through “a friend of a friend”, or they went back to school on their own time and dime (or used the ILP when it still existed) to get an actual trade/skill, or they rolled the dice and went after a business of their own, I have never heard anyone say, “Thank God for that resume I built in the resume writing course.  If it wasn’t for that piece of paper I wouldn’t be where I am today”. 

A couple big complaints I’ve heard on more than one occasion are; “It’s officer-centric”, “It’s Ontario-centric”, and “they only offer jobs in the trades, not much good to officers”.  Yes, I know 2 of those contradict each other.  But I’ve heard all of them several times now.  My new career is in data analysis and although just because something occurs a lot of times, doesn’t mean it’s the hard truth; it also doesn’t mean it can be ignored.  I believe the experiences are contextual, they will be applied to the case of the individual and the reason for the fail will consequently be contextual as well. 

In fact, about 3 months after my release, I got wind of some science behind the ineffectiveness of the transition services.  They’re a government contract. The more people they have complaining about lack of supports provided to veterans, the more money gets thrown at contracts and grants by government to fix the problem.  So it actually benefits the service provider to provide a shitty service that veterans and their advocates bitch loudly about to government to spend more money…. See where I’m going with this?  For anybody with a disability claim pending… Sound familiar? 

I know some people will counter this.  The Prince’s entrepreneur program has benefitted quite a few of us.  The education monies available to us aren’t available to the average Joe.  Preferred hiring exists for vets, ranking somewhere between disabled vets, visible minority, bilingual and average dude.  And I left each of the services I attended with a better feeling of self-confidence than I had when I went in.  That last one probably actually had the worst effect on me though, the bigger they are the harder they fall if you know what I mean.  You can only think of yourself as awesome for so long when rejection is the name of the game every single day.  My job hunt eventually turned into that sign you see on the office wall or the door to the troop bay, you know the one.  It has a handprint on either side and a bullseye in the center and says “place palms on handprints, apply forehead to bullseye forcefully and repeatedly until desired outcome is achieved”. 

So what’s the answer?  I don’t have the answer.  If I did I’d sell it to the government for an over-inflated asking price and some clause that would let me live out my life on a sandy beach collecting residuals.  All I know is that for me, it didn’t work.  And I think it has to change so that we can start tackling the real issue.  Vets offing themselves at a ridiculous rate because they struggle in the life after the life. 

Stories of WYWM - Burning the Resume by Andy Ronalds

Where did I start?  1995.  I dropped out of university, walked across the road to the recruiting center and my career as a Combat Engineer began.  Where did that chapter end?  It’s a long story and I’ll keep the reasons to myself but I decided in year 17 that at year 20, that would be it.  I did a little research, saw that there were several transition support resources available to vets and about 6 months prior to my 20 years I started along the transition path. 

So why did I do 25 ½ years?  Because I drank the kool-aid and believed that if I followed the simple steps that were shown to me for how to get a job, that a door would open and I’d walk through into my second career.   I did what they said. I: 

  1. built a resume.  I got a great looking resume put together. I got that torn apart and translated into non-Army speak.  I put it out there, everywhere. 
  1. got an online profile.  I cleaned up my Facebook, I got active on LinkedIn, I spent hours every day on Indeed/Workopolis/etc… sorting through potential job matches, and I linked them all together. 
  1. networked.  Initially online and then more and more in my community through sports.  I had those awkward conversations that were essentially me asking for a job without asking for a job. 
  1. got advice.  I asked my co-workers (big mistake, they’d never gone through transition) and a bunch of ex-military friends who had successfully transitioned. 

I did all these things on and off with varying levels of effort for 5 years.  I landed some interviews.  I got spammed by headhunters.  I got constant notifications from online job boards for jobs I was “perfectly suited for”. I got awesome references and tips from friends who were looking out for me. I had great people spend a lot of time helping me out. And at the end of the day, I didn’t  get a job. For almost 6 years of looking. 

Do you have any idea how many hours I spent customizing my resume to tailor it to the specifics of each job I applied for?  I can honestly say about an average of 15-20 hours a week when I wasn’t deployed somewhere like the BC forest fires, various exercises or Iraq.  That’s half of a full-time job, unpaid, just looking for hopefully a full-time job. In hindsight, that’s pretty fucking dumb.  Especially since I was doing pretty much the same thing for pretty much the same result for 6 years. 

So when did it change?  LinkedIn was the starting point.  But not how I thought it would be.  I had a friend share a post from WithYouWithMe for a job-fair webinar type thing that just happened to be taking place while I was bored, at home, waiting for my posting date to come up.  It was the CEO and a couple of others (who all seemed to be named  Tom) talking about veteran under-employment and training for the tech industry. I was curious but not really buying into it too much until he said “burn the resume” and my ears perked up.  I was so done with the resume and this guy was offering a different path and he wasn’t asking for money.  I had time on my hands, motivation to try something new and a hands on crew was helping me choose a tech field pathway.  It was the perfect storm. 

I picked away at the data pathway that the Potential testing had steered me towards and it turns out it was kind of interesting.  I met some great inspirational instructors online, I was getting pretty regular phone calls (not automated emails) asking about my interest in certain positions and once my release timeline, position location, and salary requirements were met I pulled the trigger.  My release paperwork went in, my home office got a makeover, and within a couple of weeks I was working for a new employer, in a new field I hadn’t even considered, and enjoying family time and  a work culture that I hadn’t been able to enjoy in a very long time. 

As far as the resume goes, while I was getting recruited I told them I had one.  They said “Don’t care, we don’t look at them.  Just tell me a little bit about who you are”.  I told them I had spent a few hundred bucks getting one written for me and a few hundred hours rewriting it.  They said “How’s that going for you?  Bet you wish you had spent that money and time on something else right?”.  They cared about my interest in the industry, about my scoring on the Potential platform but most importantly to me, they cared about how I fit into a fast-growing company’s culture. 

So that’s it. Did a test, did some courses online, chatted with some people and here I am.  Gainfully employed, well paid, working from home, contributing to a squad’s workload and I have a long-term plan to pay it forward and keep growing as WithYouWithMe grows.  I ceremoniously printed off a copy of my most up to date resume and put it on the BBQ.  It was a little underwhelming visually but it felt damn good! 

Stories of WYWM - You Chase the Carrot only to find it a Turnip Painted Orange by Peter McInerny

Tell your WYWM story 

#becurious #befierce 

“You chase the carrot only to find it a turnip painted orange!” 

How to describe my journey trying to find a role? There was a time where the tech industry was growing and if you made some effort to learn and showed you could work hard, companies were happy to give you a chance. Sadly, these times have changed. A list of expensive courses is expected, having the right experiences, worded carefully to get past the recruitment bots and being happy with entry level jobs now requiring 3 years' experience (on top of a degree) has become the norm. Add to that if your slightly not aligned with the heavily researched “model employee” or have skills the “churn and burn” recruitment monoliths AI models cannot compute and you're not willing to sell your soul then you have no chance of landing not just a job, but a job that benefits you and the employer. 

If you read the steady flow of Linked In stories you can see that these experiences are becoming normal and the impact this has on good people with good skills is rubbish. When I say good skills, I don’t mean skills that have been rightly handed over to be handled by computers, automation and technological advances. I am taking about skills that require an attitude and aptitude that help people succeed in roles like leadership, people skills and innovation. Modern, up to date skills that still very much have a place in our society and can be built on.  

This is the issue with automating the very people-based industry of recruitment. Crow baring an infinite number of personalities into a text-based screen scrapper that counts the number of keys words someone download off the internet is not smart recruiting, its minimal via product. It may seem they are getting the best candidates to interview but they are not. They are getting a lookup table response max_wordCount_num_hit == interview. 

Thankfully, despite the endless disappointment, hundreds of applications, 30+ individually crafted cover letters and lots of smiling nods, I did not give up and when I saw an ad for WithYouWithMe I still had the curiosity and resilience (hint: good employee traits!) to give it a go. From the first interaction, it felt like all the good things about being in the military with none of the bad. They understood where I was coming from, showed me where to do meaningful training courses and we started looking at roles. Did I get the first job I applied for? No. Did I turn my back only to find they had disappeared because I was not a “quick win”? Nope, we kept talking about it and planned a training path. With the new Potential website this went to another level. I was now able to go through the tests that identified my potential. Then, when a role came up that I was suited to, they called me, were there as I interviewed and made it through. So, were they right, did I have the potential? Yep – I now have three industry certifications with another on the way, working for a major worldwide company to cement these skills and part of a company culture where if I need to, I can (and have) literally contact anyone – including the CEO - that’s how transparent these guys are.  

So now, I am back on track, getting educated, working in a job I enjoy, allowed to be creative, listened to when I am being creative and moving forward again. That’s all I wanted.