To get an idea of the latest hiring trends, you just have to look to the big corporations to see what and who they’re recruiting to keep their large market share. In recent years major players like SAP, JP Morgan Chase and Microsoft have set up dedicated autistic hiring teams to get the benefits of this vast untapped talent pool. While no two autistic workers have exactly the same traits of autism (hence the idea of an autism spectrum), some of the common characteristics of autism include high levels of concentration, an excellent eye for details and the ability for true blue sky thinking to come up with new solutions to existing problems.
However, if you’re like most companies in British Columbia, you have neither the time or the resources to set up a dedicated autism hiring department. However, by examining each of the steps of the recruitment process, from the job advert to interview you can work with your existing team to create an inclusive autism hiring program.
The Job Advert
The traditional job advert requires a skill set that most autistic people don’t have. Applicants are required to envision a nebulous job description and then work out how to apply their existing skills and experience to this unknown situation. Neurotypical applicants are usually able to generalize their skills and extrapolate from their current position to the new job. However, many autistic jobseekers work in concrete terms, so any job advert you post needs to be written with solid descriptions (a “day in the life of” format works well), and you should be crystal clear about the amount of experience and qualifications that they must have.
If you’re one of the majority of companies who still expect to see a resume or CV along with a cover letter, you’re implicitly pushing away high quality autistic talent. These writing tasks are challenging for many autistic individuals, and unless they have someone to help them craft a neurotypical response, they will be turned off applying for the position. If you insist on written applications, then a form to fill with short form questions will encourage autistic job applicants and also allow you to shortlist much quicker as you can see who does and does not fit your criteria. A further inclusive step to take is to allow phone or in person applications as these options remove the writing barrier from autistic people and give you a chance to get a first impression.
There is an increasing body of research that shows that the traditional face to face interview is a poor indicator of good performance. You will know that you have great employees who interviewed poorly, and someone who you thought was going to be the next big thing who ended up leaving a few months into their tenure. Formal interviews are also highly biased towards neurotypical individuals who are able to read body language and understand the subtle social cues that lead to a “successful” interview.
To become more inclusive, and to get a better idea of the quality of the candidate that you’re assessing, try a task based interview. This is where you ask your candidates to undertake a task that they will be asked to perform during the work day and observe them in action. You can also use group tasks, where you place your potential candidate in with a group of existing workers in a meeting setting, to give you an idea of how they will perform in social settings. This latter strategy is also a great tool for assessing autistic workers as social situations are one of the key areas that they will need support in as they navigate in your business.
Get Help To Get Started All of these changes sound easy, but unless you have experience or knowledge of autism, they can be hard to implement. This is when you want to team up with our team of autism experts here at Focus. We can work with your hiring team to create an inclusive autism hiring program, as well as finding you the highest quality autistic candidates that Vancouver has to offer. Focus also provides support to both your company and your new employee during the onboarding process, including whole staff autism awareness training. You can also keep us on retainer for post hiring support, including mediated feedback meetings, further staff training and ongoing support for your autistic hire. When you work with Focus, you’ll quickly be getting the competitive edge that neurodiversity brings to the table.
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