As we celebrate Autism Acceptance month, I am moving the focus of this blog series to best practices for recruiting and interviewing neurodivergent job candidates. Over the course of the next three months, I will cover neurodivergent-friendly recruiting practices (April), finding neurodivergent talent (May), and thinking differently about interviewing (June).
April blog post art provided by Armando Nunez. Armando Nunez
Are You an Employer of Choice for the Neurodiverse Community?
April 2022 –
Engage the neurodivergent community
The community of individuals effected by neurodivergent conditions does not consist of just those individuals with such a condition, but also family and friends who care for and support them. As an employer, you want to be known to this community as being neurodivergent-friendly in all your business practices. Whether you are trying to attract employees or customers, your reputation with these two constituencies will have a major impact on you being considered an employer of choice for neurodivergent talent. If you want to have neurodivergent employees or have your neurodivergent employees disclose, you need to appeal to the broader neurodiverse community by thinking holistically: neurodivergent individuals and their families and friends interact with your organization in many ways – as customers, suppliers, and employees.
Focus on customer outreach by assessing how your organization communicates with the neurodivergent community through the media, your website, and your products.
- Apply concepts of universal design to make sure your messaging to the marketplace is accessible, ensuring that the language and design you use in all types of marketing materials (print, TV, and social media) can be easily read and understood by all. Individuals with autism and other neurodivergent conditions may struggle with verbal processing and reading, so take that into consideration when crafting communications.
- Offer products and services that support neurodivergent people, such as fragrance-free items or environments, or sensory-friendly hours that appeal to neurodivergent individuals and their families.
- Consider how you fulfill your organization’s supply needs, as the next generation of potential employees (disabled or not) increasingly use social media to share their values about their employer’s purchasing habits, and expect their employer to demonstrate supplier diversity to the marketplace.
Inclusive Recruiting Practices
Just as your messaging should be clear to the broader autism community, it is crucial that your outreach – both through your communications and your processes – are clear to neurodivergent jobseekers. Areas to focus on in creating inclusive recruiting practices include:
- Career site: Make sure your website is easily navigable for neurodivergent individuals to find information on your diversity and inclusion practices, and more specifically, your experience hiring neurodivergent talent.
- Job descriptions: In our experience, autistic jobseekers are likely to self-select out of applying for positions if job descriptions contain any information they do not understand or requirements they believe they may not be able to meet. As a result, employers are losing the opportunity to meet many qualified candidates. Make sure your job descriptions are clearly written. Do not use jargon and acronyms, without including a description of what they mean. Provide context of how the role fits into the larger organization. When listing responsibilities, indicate if training will be provided or if the candidate is expected to be able to complete these tasks with no guidance. And include only the essential skill requirements for job. If you want to include additional requirements, be sure to indicate that they are preferred, but not required.
- Application process: Today, 90% of job applications occur online, with a majority of candidates trying to complete the process on a mobile phone. All candidates – neurodivergent and neurotypical – report that this process can be frustrating. To ensure you don’t lose talent at this stage of the process, some simple measures can ease the way for candidates. First, preview the application process. This should be done in writing, with clear, detailed instructions, including expected time frames. Second, clearly display on your website and application page how candidates can request an accommodation. And third, for both the preview and accommodation information, provide it in multiple formats. Neurodivergent individuals have different processing styles, so some candidates may respond best to written text, while others may prefer infographic or video formats.
Your Next Steps
In the autism community there is a saying “Nothing about us, without us.” To become an employer of choice for neurodivergent talent, engage neurodivergent individuals when implementing the recommendations in this post. The true test of an inclusive organization is one that has the perspective of neurodivergent thinkers involved in developing the policies and practices used to support the hiring and retention of talent.
Stay tuned for our May post on advice for sourcing neurodivergent talent.