Introducing Mark Korsten, Founder of AUKUS Jobs and Beyond Service Awards 'Power of One' Finalist
Mark Korsten knew there had to be a better way for veterans and employers to find each other, so he created one – AUKUS Jobs.
AUKUS Jobs is a skills-finding platform that codifies relevant skills for employment and upskilling opportunities, with a strong focus on veterans, defence relevant jobseekers and defence industry.
Mark said it was like a dating website but with jobseekers and employers matched through skills rather than shared interests – a jobseeker lists what they have and the employer searches for what they want.
Mark said he created the platform in 2021 out of frustration with the existing job-hunting model.
“(The established method) is a clumsy process that’s slow, expensive and wasteful,” he said.
“It's unfair to jobseekers, it's biased in so many ways and it's a mental health risk for jobseekers.”
Mark said finding work could be an especially risky time for veterans and their mental health.
“It's a time when you are quite vulnerable, you're quite intimidated by the big world,” he said.
“So, a big part of what I'm trying to do is to simplify that process and level the playing field a little bit for veterans.”
AUKUS Jobs currently has about 950 jobseekers on the platform and about half of those are veterans.
Mark said the idea at the heart of AUKUS Jobs was for jobseekers to be found through their skillsets, rather than CVs.
This saves the jobseeker time and protects their mental health while also saving employers money and effort.
“A jobseeker fills in their profile,” Mark said.
“They codify themselves, so they'll go and pick a whole stack of skills.
“A veteran might say they've got familiarity with a particular piece of equipment (with a) high level of competence and experience.
“They could also say they were a Major in the Army, or an equivalent…and basically their military experience credits them with a range of skills.”
Mark said the beauty of the AUKUS Jobs platform was it was perfect for nobody and acceptable for everybody.
“I've created a language that is universally relevant,” he said.
“Most people look at it and say, okay, I probably wouldn't have called it quite that, but I can see that's a suitable skill for me to look for or that’s a suitable skill for me to code myself up against.
“The ability for academics and employers, and uniformed members and public service to all talk relatively the same language is something that's never been done before.”
Mark said AUKUS Jobs was also set up so employers could discriminate for, but not against certain groups, such as veterans, Indigenous jobseekers and women.
Mark said disrupting the entrenched industry had been his biggest challenge.
“The recruitment industry and the recruitment process by which people are found and shortlisted is well established by some really big players,” he said.
“And they do it poorly, they do it inefficiently.”
Mark said getting people to question the current method was an uphill battle.
“I come up against people that, after a while, will agree there's a lot of wastage, and it's very slow, expensive, inefficient, inaccurate and unfair,” he said.
“They'll agree with that, but they're so entrenched in their own ways that they don't care whether a wheel rolls better than a sled - they don’t want a wheel.
“But along the way, you'll also come across some fantastic people who say, okay, I get this, I'm going to use it, and I want to know when your next round of investment is because I think it's a winner.”
Mark said as the sole founder of AUKUS Jobs, the entrepreneurial journey had been the hardest thing he’d done in his life, requiring periods of working more than 65 hours a week, all his spare capital and missing out on time with his wife and kids.
“Along the way there have been people who helped me, but all of the risk is on me,” he said.
“I’ve been on a long, long march…and at times I was, not quite broken, but quite fatigued.
“I commend anybody that starts this journey.”
Mark was pulled through by his successes, determination and support of those around him, especially his wife.
“Your first customer’s always a highlight,” he said.
“It's also quite gratifying when people come back and say, look, this is fantastic, you really helped me out.”
Being a finalist in the Power of One Award in the 2023 Prince’s Trust Australia Beyond Service Awards was another milestone for Mark.
“I’m very proud,” he said.
“It's validation that I'm onto something.
“It's not just an exercise in me testing an idea, it actually has validity and has value to people.”
This story was written by Courtney Snowden, freelance copywriter and current serving ADF spouse, based in Queensland.
An initiative of the Prince’s Trust Australia Enterprise programme, the Beyond Service Awards are designed to celebrate the entrepreneurial achievements of Australia’s veteran and family business community.
The 2023 Beyond Service Awards are proudly sponsored by Gold Sponsor Commonwealth Bank of Australia, and Silver Sponsor Saab Australia.
For further information, contact Prince’s Trust Australia via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mark is the CEO and Founder of AUKUS Jobs, a jobs platform that helps match jobseekers with Defence Industry employers. Passionately committed to supporting jobseekers through an ambitious technology startup, Mark is disrupting the established recruitment market and navigating a double-sided marketplace (employees and employers). To date, he has worked with 800 jobseekers and 15 employees.
Mark is a 22-year veteran of the Royal Australian Navy, based in Canberra.