An autistic graduate, who works as a recruitment consultant in a company in Leeds, UK, has faced a number of challenges on their journey into and through employment. This case study highlights how these challenges can be overcome, through clear communication of an autism diagnosis and being pro-active.
How was the job found?
After working for the same company since graduation, the autistic graduate was ready to move on to a new role as they no longer enjoyed the job they were in, though they were unsure what new role they would like to move to.
After taking some time to consider their career plan and identifying their skills and experience the graduate was able to find a company and job role that they were interested in applying for. They then spent time researching different job searching platforms including; LinkedIn, Indeed and others.
The graduate found their job via LinkedIn, and applied directly to the company they wanted to work for. They were then contacted by a recruiter for the company who put them forward for the role. They applied for the job and completed an interview for and were successful in securing the job.
Prior to the interview, the graduate disclosed their diagnosis of autism during the recruitment process, and asked that this would be taken into account during the interview process. The company ensured that the interview process was relaxed, offering the interviewee plenty of time to consider and answer the interview questions, something which the autistic graduate found helpful, and put them at ease during the interview process.
Were there any challenges?
Initially, the graduate settled in well with the job, though did encounter a few small struggles with the work environment and communicating with their managers, particularly about their needs as an autistic person.
As part of his job, the graduate was required to complete a set of exams to obtain a diploma which will help him in his role. These exams were causing a great deal of stress and anxiety for them as the learning material was inappropriate for their learning style, making it difficult to learn the material for the exams.
How were these challenges overcome?
Upon securing the role through interview, the graduate began their work induction and was offered support through an external company, offering workplace assessments. From this assessment, the graduate was offered specialist autism job coaching for themselves and their manager to enable them to communicate openly about the graduate’s diagnosis and how this affects them in the workplace, and offer support to both the employer and employee.
The graduate was able to find a third party provider who offered the same diploma they required, where the learning materials were better suited to their style of learning. This means that they could continue working towards the diploma that their employers had wanted.
In addition to this, the graduate asked for flexible working hours to allow them the time to study for the exams, something which the company was able to offer and has improved the work-life balance of the graduate and given them the time to focus on the upcoming exams.
Tips for current students and graduates
- Take the time to think about what job you want to apply for and make a career plan, even if this is just the sector, not a specific job role.
- Consider internships, a lot of employers offer internships specifically targeted for autistic people, with more accessible interview processes, increased support etc.
- Access careers advisor support, they can help you navigate interviews, how to disclose your diagnosis etc.
- Research the best places to find jobs in your field e.g., LinkedIn, Indeed, etc.
- Don’t be afraid about disclosing your autism diagnosis, it will be beneficial in the long-run.
Tips to share with employers
- Be open-minded about recruiting autistic graduates, give them an equal chance.
- Be mindful of candidates disclosing an autism diagnosis, see it as a potential advantage to your company.
- Consider sending the interview questions in advance, this gives autistic people an opportunity to think about their answers, rather than being put on the spot.
- Try and make the interview environment as relaxed as possible, allowing the interviewee to take their time.
- Acknowledge that formal attire can be very uncomfortable for autistic people, allow candidates to wear clothes that are more comfortable for them, whenever possible, even in the interview process.
- Consider virtual interviews, these can be less nerve-wracking than face-to-face interviews, giving candidates the option between both.
- Consider offering candidates work experience, this gives them an opportunity to showcase their skills on the job.
- When offering training, courses or exams to autistic employees, take the time to work with them to find a suitable training provider, who offers the learning materials in a format that works for the employee.
- Offering work-place mentors can be really helpful, these mentors can help the new candidate settle into their new role and can be someone the candidate can discuss work related topics with throughout the entire employment process.
- If you notice areas in which the autistic employee is struggling, try not to be critical, instead see these as opportunities for coaching and training.
- Encourage new employees to be themselves at work and take the time to introduce them to the work team and work environment.