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:
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!