For decades, having a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder would immediately disqualify you from gaining any sort of meaningful employment, and the 20% of British Columbia autistic adults with work tend to be in positions that don’t make use of their unique skills and talents. Part of this is due to the pervasive negative stereotypes that most neurotypical employers hold about the autism spectrum that stem from unhelpful media portrayals. These include outdated notions that autism is synonymous with low intelligence, a savant like ability in one specific area and awkward social skills. The other part is that even as research reveals better and more accurate ways to find new talent, most companies hold onto the traditional application and face to face interview process that heavily favors neurotypical job seekers. However, there is a significant movement across all sectors in recent years to hire more neurodiverse workers which means that now is the time for you to find your career on the autism spectrum.
Working The Current System
The way forward in neurodiverse hiring is being led by bigger multinational corporations such as SAS, JP Morgan Chase and Microsoft, who have set up dedicated autism hiring teams to tap into the skills and talents of autistic workers. This is trickling down to local employers in Vancouver, so to learn how to find a job for ASD, you can either get professional help, or work the current job hiring system. If you choose the latter, here are some tips to start your new career:
- Start with your strengths – the first step in finding a career on the autism spectrum is to think about what your own personal strengths are. A good place to start this is to think about the areas at school which captured your interest, or subjects that you got the best grades in. You can then do some research to see what companies in Vancouver exist that use these strengths and keep an eye out for job adverts from these businesses.
- Ghostwrite your application – application writing for most jobs is a hard process if you’re on the autism spectrum as they require you to be able to talk about how your current skills and experience maps onto this new position. Neurotypical applicants know a lot of the tricks of writing a generalized application that tells the potential employer what they want to hear, so you can give yourself a good boost by finding a friend or family member who will ghostwrite your application for you. This should feel like a conversation where they take what you say about your strengths and career goals and form it into an application that will get you an interview.
- Interview practice – even for neurotypical job seekers, the face to face interview is a nerve wracking experience. A lot of job performance research shows that success in the interview is a poor indicator of success in the new position, but many companies are afraid of trying something new. This means that when you get offered an interview, you need to spend as much time as you can preparing for the interview. You may get lucky if you ask for the questions ahead of time, but you may be able to find friends or family members who will be able to come up with some typical questions who can help you write scripted answers that will sell your skills and talents.
Getting Professional Help
It’s clear to see that while it’s possible for autistic job seekers to gain meaningful employment through the traditional job application process, there is a lot of work that needs to be done to help you conform to the neurotypical job market. Fortunately, you can get professional help through Orbital to help you find an alternative path to employment.
Orbital works with their sister company Focus to make finding a job with ASD easy. The first step is a meet and greet service where their experts will meet with you to talk about your strengths and career goals. They then provide a series of training programs focused both on developing your skills for your chosen career as well as helping you be ready for the neurotypical workplace. Finally, they have contacts with a wide variety of companies across Vancouver who are looking to become more autism friendly employers through a neurodiversity hiring drive, and will connect you directly with these companies. Their on boarding and post hiring support will help you stay successful in your job, so make them your next call in your search for your career on the autism spectrum.