How people with autism can find training and jobs
Getting into the modern workplace is a tricky process for anyone. You have to find appropriate jobs to apply for, complete a variety of different application forms and then navigate a formal face-to-face interview, all with no guarantee of success. The system is heavily favored towards neurotypical individuals who are able to transfer skills across different settings and read the subtle body language and social cues that make for a successful interview. Autistic job seekers often feel like they have to go through additional hoops to get the same job as their neurotypical peers, which can deter them from trying to enter the workforce in the first place.
As with anyone looking for work, there is nothing preventing autistic individuals from attempting to navigate the job market independently. However, with the inherent biases within most hiring systems, they may need some help along the way in the following ways:
- Strengths analysis – a combination of negatively reinforced expectations from society and possible difficulty in accurate self-reflection leaves many autistic adults with no confidence in their own abilities which can make looking for work a challenge. There are online strengths analyses, but having someone sit down and discuss possible fields of work and the strengths and interests required to succeed will help generate a list of possible job options.
- Ghostwriting applications – another challenge facing autistic job seekers is writing job applications where they are asked to transfer skills learned in one area of their life to this potentially new and unknown job. However, this shouldn’t be a barrier to employment so there is nothing wrong with talking through their experiences and having someone in their support network put together a ghost-written application to help them get their foot in the door.
- Rehearsing interviews – the formal face-to-face interview is a hangover from the 19th century, but it’s a tradition that many companies can’t seem to shake. It’s a poor indicator of job performance, but one that autistic employees need to master. Like all new skills, autistic individuals need plenty of practice and repetition to be successful, and this will include the need to throw some curveball questions into the mix for full preparation.
Getting Professional Help
It’s easy to see that the amount of time and effort required for an autistic job seeker to get a job by themselves could be daunting, and there are many steps along the way that could cause them to give up. Fortunately, as autism awareness increases across Canada, there has been a rise in autism employment programs that provide professional help to autistic individuals who are interested in joining the workforce. Some of the benefits of engaging with an autism talent management agency include:
- Direct matches – one of the biggest benefits that autistic individuals get from autism employment programs is that the agency does all the legwork of finding companies willing to take on autistic employees. There’s no guessing as to whether to disclose their condition during the application process and there’s the guarantee that the application and interview process will be modified to help get the best out of each autistic candidate.
- Employment preparation – for autistic job seekers, it’s not enough to simply go through the job-hunting process. The world of work requires another new skill set to learn, and an autism talent management agency will provide plenty of training and preparation to make sure their candidates are fully ready for the workplace. This can include online job training on topics such as self-organization and flexible thinking, as well as in-person work on navigating common workplace social situations.
- Ongoing support – one of the drawbacks about job hunting independently is that employers might not know about the autistic employee’s condition and they will be treated the same as their neurotypical peers. An autism employment program will provide ongoing support to the hiring organization, including full staff autism awareness training before the new hire starts, and ongoing support to colleagues and supervisors about how to help them succeed once they are in the post. This support helps everyone learn how to become more inclusive and when done correctly provides a high correlation with long-term retention and success.
It is possible for autistic job seekers to find work by themselves, but with all the benefits that come from signing up with an autism employment program, it feels like an unnecessary risk when the chances of success are much higher with support and guidance.