Think Differently about How You Hire

Think Differently about How You Hire

Think Differently about How You Hire

Implementing Accessibility, Accommodation, and Respect into Your Recruiting Plan

April is Autism Acceptance Month. It’s a great time to assess your company’s recruitment process to ensure that you’re demonstrating accessibility, accommodation, and respect for neurodiverse individuals.

Ernie Dianastasis is one of the country’s leading experts in advancing employment opportunities for people with autism. Ernie is the CEO of The Precisionists, Inc., a company whose mission is to create jobs in administrative and technology services for disabled veterans and those on the autism spectrum. I had the privilege of talking with Ernie recently about his ambitious goal to employ over 10,000 neurodiverse people in the next three to five years on my podcast Revolutionizing Recruitment. You can listen to our conversation here.

As Ernie and I discussed, the prevalence of autism is rising—from 1 in 125 children in 2004 to 1 in 44 in 2021—so it’s important for employers to recognize the unique skills that people with autism bring to the workplace and identify how best to implement a recruitment plan that accommodates this growing pool of talented contributors.

Precision, attention to detail, and the ability to recognize patterns are key skill sets that many of my clients need, especially those working in information technology and business operations. That means that contributors with these abilities are precisely the individuals you’ll want to hire for such vital areas as application development, database optimization, medical device testing, software testing, data analytics, and document digitalization. Individuals with autism are often cited for their persistence, detailed factual knowledge, and passion for mastery and ongoing learning. Some are exceptionally skilled at delivering excellence in partnerships with automation and AI—key growth areas for many of my clients.

According to a recent study from Deloitte, teams with neurodivergent professionals can be 30% more productive than those without them. This diversity of thought is a demonstrated competitive advantage for employers. So, what can you do to ensure that you’re leveraging this talent pool of candidates with specific strengths and unique capabilities? 

A few smart modifications in your recruitment plan will ensure that you’re creating an inclusive hiring process for these key contributors—and demonstrating that your organization offers a workplace that will accommodate and respect diverse employees. First, pay attention to where you’re sourcing candidates. Are you consistently recruiting from the same colleges and universities, or are you incorporating schools that have programs specifically for individuals with autism?  

Next, evaluate your interviewing practices. Unstructured interactions—unexpected questions and casual conversation—can be challenging for individuals with autism. They may be uncomfortable maintaining eye contact or shaking hands. If you’re relying on a traditional formal interview to identify top candidates, you’re not creating a level playing field for your talent. 

Instead, why not include options for candidates to demonstrate their skills in a non-conventional interview setting? Microsoft has successfully implemented a recruitment model centered around a four-day, on-site skills assessment for neurodivergent candidates. This kind of trial work period or skills assessment is an excellent way to ensure a good fit between the skills you need and the talent you’re recruiting. At Microsoft, the onboarding process also includes assigning an internal mentor to hired employees. For neurodivergent workers, this is typically an employee who has a friend or family member with autism

It’s smart business to take steps to ensure that you’re attracting top talent for every role in your organization. Recruiting and nurturing neurodivergent contributors will position your organization to benefit from unique skills, diverse ways of thinking, and valuable approaches to problem-solving.