Neurodiverse Friendly Recruitment

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to participate in a Hearst workshop on neurodiverse-friendly recruitment facilitated by Tara Cunningham CEO of Beyond Impact and Tracy Powell-Rudy, Vice President of Corporate Engagement for Integrate Autism Employment Advisors.  I went straight home and applied what I had learned to the job descriptions in Ops in a Box, Legal Edition - A Magical Kit!

Job description focus is on plain and specific language (reminds me of Ken Adams on contracts, actually) and a tweaked format:
  1. Position Goal
  2. Required Skills
  3. Nice to Have and
  4. Qualifications

Attention Clients: The revised job descriptions are now available in your digital kit.

A few additional highlights:

Candidate Submission: Consider adding an accommodations request and accessibility assistance options to the company career site; for good example see Microsoft's Inclusive Hiring for People with Disabilities. Be clear about the steps in your application process; for a good example see Salesforce's career site. Also if your EEOC is a strictly-legal statement, consider warming it up with language regarding your company values with respect to diversity.

Resume Review:  It takes anyone years to hone their resume writing skills learning from experience what works and does not. And when faced with a large volume of resumes recruiters and hiring managers typically spend less than 10 seconds per resume on initial review (my average is closer to 90 seconds). The best advice: Slow down.  Before you dismiss a resume that is not well-formatted, pause and consider whether it may come from a neurodiverse applicant. Some signs that it may be from a neurodiverse applicant include:

1. Job experience that is more junior than their academic credentials suggest (neurodiverse candidates often have a more difficult time landing jobs they are qualified for);

2. More volunteer experience or job hopping (neurodiverse individuals have to rely more on volunteer opportunities to gain experience and without support often have shorter job tenure);

3. A laundry list of experience with far too much detail (neurodiverse applicants are used to dismissive treatment in interviews so often strive to get all of their potential credentials up front in writing), or

4. A resume with insufficient specifics (may not understand that in a competitive world an impressive credential does not speak for itself). 

Interviews: In conducting an interview if you sense some difficulty responding to traditional questions, you can also re-frame a question in more concrete terms. A few examples:

Common Questions


Tell me about yourself

  • Experience: How did you identify the opportunity at NAME organization?What were your position responsibilities at NAME?
  • Education: What coursework was your favorite and what did you like about it? What coursework did you find most difficult and how was it challenging?

What are your greatest strengths?

  • When working on a project, what are the tasks or aspects of the assignments that you find come easiest for you?
  • Based on feedback you’ve received, what do you think your supervisor would say are skills or qualities in which you are strongest?

Describe a time you had to work on a team to accomplish a common goal.

Tell me about a time you worked on a project with a group of people to accomplish a common goal. Please describe the project, your responsibilities within the project team, and the results of the overall project.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Have you thought about career goals beyond this position? If so, what are your longer-term career goals?

Why should I hire you?

What skills do you have that make you the right candidate for the job?

For a full list of examples, see The Neurodivergent Job Candidate by Marcia Scheiner.

With a big THANK YOU to the initiative sponsor, Hearst SVP of public affairs and communications, and internal initiative manager, Isabel Fields for including me.

And last, but certainly not least, thought-leader Krysta Johnson, Head of Legal Ops @Lexion, is offering a #CLOC Workshop "Thinking Differently: Supporting Neurodiverse Employees on In-House Legal Teams" this coming Thursday at 2 PM ET. If you're a CLOC member register today!