Guide to Getting a Job With Autism
Despite years of effort by employers and activists, the United States workforce still fails to properly accommodate neurodiverse individuals. Getting a job with autism remains a challenge: nearly two-thirds of neurodiverse adults do not hold a job or hold a job that doesn’t fully utilize their abilities.
Several obstacles stand between you and your job. Some of them are systemic, while others may involve a perceived incompatibility between you and a potential work environment.
Overcoming these obstacles takes time, but it is more than doable. Here, you’ll find tips and tricks designed to help those of you searching for a job to achieve your goals.
Know What You Want To Look For
Before you start pulling your application materials together, you need to know what kind of environment you would prefer to work in. You may be a visual learner and adept at system management, or you may be a non-visual thinker who prefers a career that doesn’t engage your short-term memory. Either way, you need to understand how you best interpret the world before choosing where you want to work.
Likewise, you’ll need to find an environment wherein your potential supervisor can work with your social limits. Seek out the opinions of other people to discover which environments are best suited for employees on the spectrum. Check out Autism Net for postings from employers with neurodiverse-friendly openings.
Familiarize Yourself With Your Drive
Part of understanding what kind of job you’d excel at is understanding what motivates you and your behaviors. Consider this: 80 percent of the behaviors you undertake on a daily basis aren’t behaviors you consciously consider. If you take a moment to consider what underlies your professional aspirations – for example, why you’re drawn to a career in the arts over a career in the sciences, or vice versa – you’ll learn more about your personal drive and how you can apply yourself in a professional setting.
This is also the case for social environments. Most careers require you to interact with people, either face-to-face or through a messaging system. Working closely with job coaches within your community and online resources like Daivergent can start to help to build familiarity with these sorts of interactions.
Ask for Help
It is also essential that you actively choose to engage with your job application and the people with whom you will potentially work. You may have excellent technical skills or incredible creative ability, but exceptional skills are rarely enough to succeed in the workplace or even during the interview process, even for employees or candidates who are not neurodiverse.
Partner a drive to focus with assistance from a mentor or friend, and you’ll be able to make your job application shine. There are also great posts online from autistic leaders like Samantha Craft that you should turn to for support (here’s one about interview tips for the autism community). Whether neurotypical or neurodiverse, job applicants who receive advice from several people in their network about their strengths are shown to have substantially higher success in their job search. Job searches are frequently described as marathons, and for good reason -- by taking some time to know your interests well, you’ll be more likely to craft a job application that you’re passionate about and get the job.
Maintain a Professional Portfolio
You’ll also want to have a professional portfolio on hand to share with potential employers. Crafting this portfolio will take time, but that’s part of the effort of getting a job.
Your portfolio should be tailored to the job you want to get. If you’re interested in working in graphic design, for example, collect your artwork in one easy-to-reach location so you can share your favorite pieces upon request. Alternatively, you can bring coded websites, blogs, writing samples, or past accomplishments to the table as evidence of your commitment and work ethic. Tools like GitHub Pages to showcase your programming work and Gyst for artists are good first steps to checkout.
Above all else, know that getting a job takes time and practice. You’re going to face rejection during your job search because rejection is a part of the process. Don’t get discouraged! Rework your resume and application materials with the help of a friend, then submit them to another company. So long as you keep trying, you’ll be able to come away from the job hunting experience with a career lined up.
Employers are becoming more open to neurodiversity in the workplace, but there are still some ways to go for full understanding in the corporate community. That’s why you’ll want to work with an employer who is willing to provide you with the resources you need to become comfortable in your space, and well as do what you can to make them halfway., Finding a job can be a process, but you’ll find that the obstacles that prevented you from entering the workplace can be overcome.
Opinions expressed by Daivergent contributors are their own.