Neurodiverse talent: Effective strategies to engage candidates
The transition from an employer-driven to a candidate-driven market can be a significant adjustment for many companies. The need for optimizing processes and being as resourceful as possible is a must and is often approached from a limited lens, ultimately excluding neurodiverse talent.
The good news is that there are resources and tools like Arya in place to help offset those limitations and attract more diverse talent. But before implementing and integrating new recruiting strategies, there are a few practical and less costly steps that need to be taken.
Suggested resource on hiring strategies: How to build HR flexibility and resilience post-COVID
For employers, the first thing to do is let go of any notion that neurodiverse people somehow lack the skills to perform complex tasks. In fact, Drexel University’s National Autism Indicators Report says 51 percent of workers on the spectrum have skills higher than what their job requires.
Beyond that, there are concrete steps an employer can take.
Instill the right workplace culture
Moving towards a neurodiverse workplace first requires understanding. You need to be more accepting of neurodiversity and your entire company needs to be made aware of what it is, the benefits of hiring neurodiverse candidates, and how they can change their own thought processes to accept it.
Use concise job descriptions
Show exactly what you expect of your candidates when you create a job listing. While many job positions list soft skills such as good teamwork and communication, you may want to leave those out if they aren’t vital to the job.
For example, there are many roles in which the focus is on creative thinking and paying attention to detail. If someone is not required to communicate or work as a team, then don’t make a big deal about it in the job description to attract neurodiverse talent.
Adjust your hiring practices
Hiring managers need to reframe their idea of what makes a “good candidate.” Many superficial norms, such as a strong handshake or looking someone in the eye, are difficult for neurodiverse individuals to perform.
Managers also need to ask the right questions to best draw out the individual’s skills and capabilities. For example, some companies take the surprise element out of their interview process – if the candidate is not applying for a job that requires them to think fast on their feet, then there’s no need to consider that in the interview.
Also, it’s important to remember that resumes don’t tell the full story. Because so many neurodiverse individuals have struggled to find work that matches their abilities, they are often self-taught or possess transferable skills.
Building a neurodiverse candidate pool takes time. EY uses a two-week process that is focused on hiring people as team members rather than as individuals.
Week one is virtual, relying on Skype video calls, virtual exercises, and assessments through mini-projects. Week two is called “Superweek” and is held on-site. This week includes team-based work simulations and interpersonal skills development.
At the end of the two weeks, EY selects the highest performers and hires in cohorts. From there, all onboarding and training is done by managers who have taken formal training in autism.
Organize expert-driven, two-way training
Soft-skills training is a critical part of building a neurodiverse workforce. It should be done by an expert with appropriate experience – something you can also look to the local community for.
Note that this training isn’t just for neurodiverse talent, but for all employees and especially managers, who need to be educated about what it’s like to be on the spectrum, and how to best work together.
Be ready and willing to accommodate your talent
Individuals with autism may be sensitive to things such as temperature, sound, and lighting. As such, you may need to provide accommodations such as noise-canceling headphones, privacy rooms, or flexible work schedules, so employees can be their most productive.
Amplify the message
Individuals on the spectrum have often had negative experiences in the world. So, while they may feel understood at work, they may not feel as safe outside of the office.
A strong neurodiversity program should push its message externally as well as internally, making it a more normal part of employment in general.
EY is open-sourcing its work, along with other companies pursuing neurodiversity, through the Autism at Work Roundtable.
“This is giving us a tremendous amount of reputational value,” said Hiren. “It’s good for our own employees, it’s good for the marketplace. Our clients want to do business with companies that do good. Candidates want to work with companies that do good.”
How Arya helps attract neurodiverse talent
Adopting a candidate-centric mindset is the first step to connecting and attracting neurodiverse talent. Instilling a positive work culture, accommodating neurodiverse candidates, and being patient are also pragmatic and effective ways to recruit for the neurodivergent. But when it comes to optimizing your job adverts to attract more diverse candidates and communicate more efficiently, recruiting tools like Arya Quantum can help.
Suggested resource for neurodiverse hiring: Neurodivergent talent: the new frontier in diversity hiring
Arya Quantum is the top AI recruiting tool designed for employers to discover more diverse talent and swiftly engage with quality candidates on a tight schedule. You shouldn’t have to pay extra to have diverse talent integrated into your candidate search. With Arya, you’ll get instant access to a neurodiverse talent pool, allowing you to recruit faster.
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