Employment is a key topic in our autism community. As national data indicate, the vast majority of adults with autism are unemployed or underemployed today in the U.S.
Many of the young adults who I know are highly intelligent and could succeed in the workforce, but sometimes they face challenges when it comes to social and interpersonal skills.
One of those challenges starts with the first time you meet with a prospective employer during a job interview. For me, this is often the most challenging part of finding a job as a person on the autism spectrum. Having to maintain eye contact for a long period of time made me feel extremely anxious, and sometimes I froze during a question I didn’t anticipate.
I’ve had other interviews where there were multiple people in the room interviewing me back and forth. It made me feel like I was being interrogated at times. And don’t even get me started on group interviews with multiple candidates in the room.
While I appreciate that the interview process may help you find the best candidate for openings where communication and teamwork are vital, I think other jobs that are more focused on singular projects may not necessarily need a formal interview.
When I give talks to employers about my personal experiences on finding employment, I often recommend that you conduct a one-day job training session instead of an interview to see if the candidate can actually do the job. So instead of having candidates “talk the talk,” so to speak, they can actually “walk the walk” to show you why they deserve a shot at your company.
Because at the end of the day, you want to find the best employees possible who will bring the most to your company. If you are reading this letter today, I can tell you that I know some amazing people with autism who can be just that with the right supports. This isn’t something I’d encourage for just your potential employees with autism but for all of your employees as well.
You may be surprised from what you see when you give them this opportunity.
For those with autism reading this, you may not always get the opportunity to do a one-day job training. Because of that, I recommend you read over this step-by-step guide on how to succeed in a job interview provided by JobTIPS and Autism Speaks here.
This guide will give you a blueprint to succeed on everything from how to
prep before the interview, what to remember during the day of the interview and
the follow-up work you should do after the interview.
For those looking for employment opportunities, Autism Speaks has also started TheSpectrumCareers.com, a new jobs portal designed to help find employment opportunities for those on the autism spectrum.
If I can ever be a soundboard, you can always contact me via my Facebook Fan Page here as well.