How to find great jobs as an autistic person
Finding the perfect job is tricky at the best of times, but it can be even more challenging for neurodivergent people. Including ADHD, Autism, Aspergers, Dyslexia and more, the umbrella term 'neurodivergent' is defined as, "differing in mental or neurological function from what is considered typical". Neurodivergent employees might need different things to help them achieve their best work, like reasonable adjustments or flexible working. But, as an autistic person, how do you find inclusive employers? In this blog, Charlotte Maguire discusses all of the above.
My name is Charlotte, and as of January 2022, I work as a Test Centre Administrator at Pearson. I love the sense of routine: I drive to work or take the train, I run security checks on candidates, invigilate them and print out test results. I’ve currently been learning how to work at the front desk, which has been an exciting challenge that’s pushed me out of my comfort zone. The work environment has been lovely and full of kind colleagues.
But how did I land myself this job? Here are the ways I job hunt and secure interviews and job offers.
Network with autistic people on social media
After I left my previous job, I decided to use the time off to not only job hunt but also network with many neurodivergent people on social media. My go-to social media platforms are LinkedIn and Instagram and I always follow many hashtags related to autism, neurodiversity, and autism in the workplace. The main hashtags I follow on social media include:
I’ve been following and connecting with many autistic people on Instagram and LinkedIn, where I’ve been listening to their thoughts on equality and diversity as well as tips on how to progress in my career journey. Seeing many autistic people on LinkedIn at the time and listening to their stories had given me hope during a rough time in my life when I’d experienced self-doubt and confusion after facing numerous job rejections. Networking made me feel less alone in my job hunt; not only has it kept me motivated during my search, but it also built my confidence in speaking out on inequality and ableism in the workplace and society as a whole.
Here are a few #actuallyautistic people I recommend following on LinkedIn:
Tailoring my application forms
I find that tailoring a job application is one of the hardest parts of the job hunt. Many people (autistic or not) have made the mistake of applying to multiple jobs with the same CV, without ever tailoring the application. This, consequently, has led to applications being binned.
What I’ve learned in the job hunt is to read through the job description and role specifications, to check what skills I need to mention in my applications. If there are any skills I’m not familiar with, I either research them online or ask someone at my University’s Careers Service during a CV review appointment.
When answering application questions, I always use the STAR method (situation, task, action and result) to structure my example I use to support my answers. I always remember to end each question by reflecting on my experience, by explaining what I could do better in future and why. This is the structure I also use when answering interview questions.
When I was job hunting, I focused on one or two applications a week, which gave me enough time to tailor each application. This method has gotten me numerous interviews as well as my current job.
Signing up for neurodivergent-friendly career consultants and recruitment companies
I also recommend signing up with career consultants or recruitment companies that specialise in helping neurodivergent job seekers. Before landing my current job, I signed up for Scope, the UK’s leading disabilities charity, where I received one-on-one sessions with a careers advisor from their Support to Work programme. This scheme provides many services, including mock interviews, application review sessions and how and where to look for jobs. This programme lasts for 12 weeks.
One session I did when I got my current job at Pearson involved what to say to my employer about my autism and reasonable adjustments. I highly recommend Scope’s employment support.
Other neurodivergent-friendly career consultants and recruitment companies I also recommend include:
· Exceptional Individuals
Doing mock interviews
I’ve been building my confidence by practising job interviews with a careers advisor at my university’s careers service. I don't find them daunting because I’ve known the advisors for three years, since I used to go to them for employment advice throughout university. I recommend practising mock interviews with a careers advisor at one of the neurodivergent-friendly employment consultants I recommended above. Also, I recommend practising interview questions with friends.
I always prepare answers ahead of an interview by researching the types of questions I may get asked. To do this, I use the job description and any skills or specifications it outlines. I then prepare answers, which I then save on a Word document, using the STAR method to structure my answers.
These are the methods I’ve used that have helped me get a job. I’ll continue using these tips throughout my career journey.
Written by Charlotte Maguire
Follow Charlotte on LinkedIn