A Short Guide to Neurodiverse Hiring & Recruitment

May 19 2021 | Insights
Woman and man looking at each other and smiling.

Hiring neurodiverse candidates can bring many benefits to your organization; Ezra discusses why this shouldn't become a forgotten opportunity, and how to attract and hire the right talent.

A technical definition for neurodiversity is “variations and differences in the neurological structure and function across human beings that are viewed as normal instead of pathological.” When we say neurodiverse hiring, we’re essentially talking about hiring of people who are of diverse cognitive makeup, including people with ADHD, dyslexia, or people considered as being on the spectrum. This can come with a wide array of needs to consider, such as difficulty in communication, accounting for how different people may approach similar tasks or promoting cooperation and understanding between colleagues.

Without trying to generalize too much, neurodiversity can often lead to difficulties communicating and collaborating within the office. That said, neurodiverse individuals bring many of the same benefits as neurotypical colleagues, and when properly understood their various quirks and requirements are easy to work alongside.

All it takes is the patience to learn about them – the same as any other potential coworker.

What is a neurodiversity hiring initiative?

A neurodiversity hiring initiative seeks to take advantage of these traits while simultaneously giving neurodiverse adults more chances to find employment. In the U.S., only 19.3% of people with disabilities are employed and working. This is a serious concern for the country, showing that employers often overlook the potential and the skills that neurodiverse employees offer to the country’s workforce.

How does it benefit a business?

Currently, there’s still a stigma against hiring people who are neurodiverse. A lot of these are the lingering prejudices and misconceptions that have plagued them for decades, most of which are rooted in outdated ideas and myths.

It can also come about because of simple miscommunication or misunderstanding. A lot of the time people don’t really realize that neurodiverse people aren’t rude or incapable, just different. These types of people can still be extremely skilled and have much potential to offer the organization that is willing to nurture them.

It is important to cultivate a diverse range of experiences and mindsets in any company, as such a pool of different perspectives can only enrich and empower the teams they’re a part of.

They may possess much stronger creative abilities, they could have unique solutions for business challenges that you face, and they may have improved concentration that no other employee could match. In addition, a diverse workforce also helps you and your company stand out and be a force for positive social change in your community. If you’re able to establish a neurodiverse workplace, you could be seen as a fair employer that is doing its part to help end the stigma against neurodiversity.

Attracting neurodiverse talent

There are plenty of ways to attract neurodiverse candidates to your workplace.

Be clear about your message

There are many businesses that make it a point to hire neurodiverse adults. They have very clear initiatives and they have entire web pages, initiatives, and processes set up to help support those adults. If you’re committed to hiring and supporting all employees, then you should shout that commitment from the rooftops. Be a trend setter.

Concise job descriptions

Show exactly what you expect of your candidates when you create a job listing. While many job positions list soft skills such as good teamwork and communication, you may want to leave those out if they aren’t vital to the job. For example, there are many roles in which the focus is on creative thinking and paying attention to detail. If someone is not required to communicate or work as a team, then don’t make a big deal about it in the job description to attract neurodiverse talent.

Assessments and interviews

You’ll want to look at the interview process too if you’re trying to attract neurodiverse candidates. Instead of a regular interview, you should change the process and assess candidates based on their performance or by allowing them to demonstrate their abilities.

This is because neurodiverse candidates may be anxious about the interview process. As you may know, adults on the spectrum may find it difficult to enter a close encounter where the spotlight is on them. People with dyslexia will struggle with anything that depends on literacy too, putting them at an unfair disadvantage. Regular interview processes may involve several people speaking to a single person in a small, closed room. This can cause anxiety in most people, and it’s certainly one of the things that put off neurodiverse candidates.

By establishing unique processes that are made specifically for this type of potential employee, you stand a much better chance at attracting them to your business. Since neurodiverse candidates must be assessed in different ways, it’s beneficial to establish more than one method to assess their skills to see if they’re a good fit for your company.

Management and progression

However, even if you’re accepting of neurodiverse employees, the rest of your team may have reservations about it. Alternatively, they could be accepting of it, but they might find it difficult to work with neurodiverse team members because they’re not sure how to interact with them without making them anxious or nervous.

Because of all this it’s important to educate the rest of your team on neurodiversity. This may require a bit of training, but a lot of the time it’s just a case of sitting the team down and explaining to them what neurodiversity is.

Neurodiversity isn’t a problem to be fixed; it’s just something people need to respect.

It can also be helpful to have a manager or a member of staff who looks after neurodiverse employees. They must be caring, understanding, and able to understand how to effectively communicate with someone who isn’t neurotypical.

Having this support in the team makes it easier to work with neurodiverse employees and it makes the candidate a lot more comfortable in the workplace.

Lastly, it’s also important to consider promotion options for neurodiverse candidates. They are still employees at the end of the day and they would still like to see their efforts recognised. Don’t forget to give people on the spectrum an opportunity to grow their career and climb up your business.

Instilling the right workplace culture

Moving towards a neurodiverse workplace first requires understanding. You need to be more accepting of neurodiversity and your entire company needs to be made aware of what it is, the benefits of hiring neurodiverse candidates, and how they can change their own thought processes in order to accept it.

By embracing neurodiversity in the workplace and supporting it, we can take advantage of the many benefits that it brings. Opening recruitment to such a large pool of untapped talent could potentially grow our businesses to new heights that were previously unavailable.

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