One of the less talked about hiring trends in recent months is the advent of autistic-specific recruitment teams at major corporations such as JP Morgan Chase, Microsoft, and SAP. These multinationals have realized the vast untapped potential of autistic employees in the workplace. While it’s true that no two individuals on the autism spectrum share the same characteristics, many of them have tremendous powers of concentration, the ability to see novel solutions to age-old problems, and high attention to detail. It can be surprising, therefore, that the employment rate for autistic adults in British Columbia remains stubbornly at only 20%. However, with the right autism employment support, you can help adults with ASD find the right job. These 5 steps will help the autistic person in your life land full-time employment.
- Write everything down
As they start to think about the kind of work that they want to do, it will be important for autistic jobseekers to start getting used to putting their thoughts on paper. To begin with, they should make a list of all of their personal strengths, and then a vision of the kind of work that they could see themselves doing in the future. It can also be a useful exercise to write down jobs or tasks that they would not be willing to do, as this will help to narrow down the job search. This writing process will help to act as a road map as you help them hunt for the right job.
- Use personal connections
The world of hiring and recruitment is often as much of a question of who you know as it is one of what you know. For autistic jobseekers, the normal application and interview process is heavily biased against them, so it makes sense to use whatever personal connections they have available to them. This can be people that they know, but also asking friends and families for any leads that they may be to help with. This will also mean that the prospective employer will be aware of their neurodiversity from the beginning of the process which will help them make accommodations so that everything goes smoothly.
- Ghostwrite applications
If personal connections don’t get them anywhere, then the autistic employee will need to try and navigate job adverts and applications that are designed for neurotypical individuals. It’s at this point that you can be of most assistance to them by offering your neurotypical brain to ghostwrite their application with them. You’ll take their words, and information from their lists in step one, and use them to write applications and cover letters that will get them an interview. It’s common practice for most jobseekers to get help with the application writing process, and you can make sure that their voice and ideas are at the forefront of your writing.
- Practice interview skills
It’s incredible that the face-to-face interview is still the most common way of deciding if someone is suitable for the job that they’ve applied for. There have been multiple studies that show that good performance in an interview is not a predictor of good job performance. However, until the business world moves towards task-based observations or group-based activities, autistic applicants will need to master their interview skills. Again, this part of the process is weighted towards individuals who can read social cues and body language, so you’ll want to hold pretend interviews so that the autistic jobseeker gets used to what they might see and hear. There is nothing wrong with asking for the questions ahead of time, and to write down key points and answers that they want to make sure they get across in the real interview.
- Get professional help
It’s clear to see that there are many barriers to autistic adults finding work in British Columbia – these give you a good indication of why the employment rate is so low. As a friend or advocate, you can increase their chances of success, but the best way to be sure of long-term, meaningful employment is to get professional help.
Here at Focus, we offer a wide range of autism employment support services. From our Meet and Greet, where we get to know each autistic individual, to our employment readiness program and job specific trainings, we make sure that each autistic jobseeker gets matched with the right job. We work with dozens of local businesses who are looking to become more autism friendly and we offer ongoing support even once the employment has started.