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Recruiting on the Spectrum: Neurodiverse Talent (Part 1)

By August 5, 2021September 5th, 2023Diversity and Inclusion

discouraged neurodiverse candidate applying to jobsNeurodiverse candidates (those on the Autism Spectrum, with ADHD, Dyslexia, etc.) can bring powerful competitive advantages to a company. Unfortunately, their common struggle to make it through the recruitment process often prevents their talent from shining through. With a little more attention to your recruitment process, you could find a neurodiverse candidate who may thrive in that tough-to-fill role.

This blog will share some of the best practices you can incorporate into your recruitment process (specifically, the job posting and application) to help ensure it’s inclusive to neurodiverse people. Neurodiversity is a newer topic in the diversity and inclusion field. Being aware of this type of invisible diversity is a great opportunity for your company to advance its D&I initiatives.

Neurodiverse candidates can bring unique perspectives, innovative thinking styles, and specialized sets of skills to the table. It’s often the lack of clear directions and expectations in the application process that hold neurodiverse people back. Implementing some of these small practices can help ensure you reach and attract this talent.

Breaking Barriers in the Job Posting

The initial job posting is your chance to really attract candidates to your company. It’s also where you weed out the unqualified. Your job posting should include qualifications needed for someone to be successful in a role and an overview of what the job entails. Essentially, it’s a marketing piece or ad for your open role.  Picture all those listings you see on platforms like LinkedIn and Indeed, some really catch your attention, others you click through.


Here are some ways you can help make your job posting inclusive to qualified neurodiverse people:

1. Use direct language

Vague and confusing job postings can discourage neurodiverse, as well as neurotypical, candidates, from applying. When writing your job posting only include relevant, job-specific information. A general description of day-to-day responsibilities and expectations is ideal. This will keep the job posting realistic while still attracting and encouraging qualified, and perhaps neurodiverse, talent to apply.

2. Be mindful when listing qualifications

It’s important to remember there’s a big difference between required and preferred qualifications. You should make sure any “necessary” qualifications are ones actually needed to be successful in a role. It can be easy to get caught up in obscure adjectives and jargon, but you want to make sure to stay clear and relevant. Neurodivergent people (and others) often get discouraged to apply for roles if they don’t check off every single requirement. So, before posting, read through to confirm your qualifications are accurate. Clearly specify what’s essential in order to complete job tasks and what might be a bonus. For example, is it a true necessity for a candidate to have a Bachelor’s degree or is there alternative work experience that’s equally as valuable? 

sample and template of an ADA statement for neurodiverse candidates

Here’s a sample of an accommodation statement

3. Have accommodation policies

Most companies include a blanket EEO statement at the end of their job postings. To truly set your company apart, try rewriting a more specific statement. One that includes an ADA element outlining accommodation polices you have in place. Accommodation policies may sound a bit intimidating; especially, to smaller businesses, but they can be simple ways you support your candidates and employees. Consider allowing for phone interviews rather than video interviews or sending out interview questions beforehand. Small accommodations like these can really help to remove barriers for neurodivergent candidates to shine during the upcoming interview process.

Breaking Barriers in the Application

1. Provide clear directions

You’ll want to make sure you clearly outline the steps necessary to complete or submit an application. If your application requires some written responses, first, make sure your questions are easy to understand. Second, set clear expectations of how long answers should be. For example, including statements like “no more than 500 words” or “maximum one page.” If you want more portfolio style sample work, clearly state what type of writing or design samples you want to see attached.

successful interview for neurodiverse candidate2. Add structure to questions

Open-ended questions are best in interview settings to help get the conversation going. However, asking vague questions like “why would you be an ideal candidate for this position” on applications can deter neurodiverse people from applying. Instead, try asking questions more specific to previous work experiences and their backgrounds on initial applications.

The Result: Inclusive Recruitment for All

While some of these best practices seem simple, or perhaps even common sense, they can truly make all the difference for neurodiverse candidates. Taking the time to re-evaluate your recruitment process can help foster an inclusive environment for all candidates, not just neurodiverse ones. For more information, check out our other diversity and inclusion blogs or schedule a discovery call with one of our Talent Consultants today!



Additional Resources:

Dell’s Autism Hiring Program

Microsoft’s Neurodiversity Hiring Program

6 Companies with Neurodiversity Recruitment Programs

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