Advertising a role Before you even begin to advertise a position in your organisation, there are steps you can take to make practices more inclusive. One of the biggest barriers to employment for autistic people is the workplace expectation that everyone should be at least average at everything and conform to a standard employee description. If we can define roles more specifically, and isolate the key skills required to deliver success, then we don’t need to assess those attributes that are at best nice to have and sometimes unnecessary. Be specific about the skills you need in a job description. Listing unnecessary attributes may deter the very applicant you need! Defining a role too broadly, can discourage an autistic person from even applying to a position, as they will believe that they won’t be able to perform in the role as they may lack capability that the employer has explicitly requested. Some skills that may unintentionally deter an autistic applicant are: Strong interpersonal communication The ability to work well with a team Flexibility The ability to multi-task These attributes are undoubtedly important in the workplace and are central to many roles, however there are many roles and tasks where they’re not all required, despite typically being stipulated. Consider only the skills that are absolutely essential for the position you need to fill. Prioritise and value these skills throughout the process. Every autistic person is different and will have different strengths and weaknesses. Deciding on a more narrow and precise set of values to guide your recruitment process will improve your chances of attracting and selecting interested neurodiverse applicants. It might also improve your applicant pool in general, attracting employees who can identify their skillset’s relevance for your position. “ "Dedication, punctuality, commitment and attention to detail" - strengths autistic people bring to employment” Family Liaison Officer Job Descriptions Job Descriptions are often recycled. When one person leaves, the same job description is used for the new appointment process, without considering whether the duties have changed, or whether the job description could be more effective. Some tips for designing more accessible job descriptions for those with autism: Be clear, accurate and precise – To make your job description more inclusive and attractive to autistic applicants, it’s best to describe exactly what the specific position entails. Autistic applicants tend to look for work that matches their skills and experience closely. They might feel discouraged from applying for a position where they lack even a single skill. Likewise, vague descriptions have the potential to discourage autistic employees. Explicitly state only the necessary skills, the expected duties, and other details such as the required working hours. It is common practice to ask for a broad capability “excellent communication skills”, but the actual position requires a more narrow form of communication, like reporting discrepancies between documents. Question your expectations – As an example, are you asking for the work to be done at your office in business hours, when it only matters that the work is completed on time and to your standard? What traits does your employee need to have, and what traits are less necessary? Narrower skill sets can deliver more focussed benefits – Be aware of your autistic employee’s strengths and provide work assignments that match those strengths. Consider job carving or job sharing – Match the skills of your employees with their roles. Consider swapping responsibilities that they find problematic with more compatible responsibilities of other employees. In an ideal world, we would define and/or refine job descriptions based on the unique strengths of individuals having observed them in the workplace. For some organisations, running an alternative recruitment process, such as a work trial is a way to flip our traditional staffing mindset from skill demand, to skill supply, and would benefit many autistic, and non-autistic, jobseekers. Signal your inclusivity You can indicate on your initial advertisement that you are an inclusive employer: Disability Confidence Scheme – Sign up for the government’s Disability Confident Scheme. This enables you to use the disability confident logo in your adverts and indicates that you are interested in attracting diverse talent. Make your adjustment policies clear – Are you willing to provide adjustments for autistic employees? Make that information clear on your advertisement. You can even explain the adjustment process at your organisation. Make your applicants aware of your adjustment and inclusion policies. Include the policy link or text with a job description.