From time to time, I look at job ads and I find them overwhelming. It can often look like a wish list or an over-bloated description of the role and I often wonder whether this is what the position truly requires. Then I sit back and ponder; despite my experience, success and connections in that field, do I have the qualifications? Would I be a good fit? Then I debate if I should bother to apply.
The job ad and the expectation of the potential job can be quite intimidating and if I feel this way, then there is no doubt that other Neurodiverse individuals do as well. In fact, research has shown that many find it intimidating and won’t apply, despite their diplomas, certifications and portfolios. In other cases, Neurodiverse talent do apply but may not check all the boxes or they might have a CV challenge that disqualifies them.
In either case, Neurodiverse talent often gets missed and excluded. This is ironic when you bear in mind that employers prefer people who are ‘out of the box’ yet they still end up hiring from the same pool of talent.
Let The Audits Commence
Clarify the role, define who would fit that role and then ensure you make it as inclusive as possible. A good way to accomplish this is to do both a job and a talent audit.
A Job Audit starts by reviewing the job description. Isolate the basic responsibility. It is key that this is written in clear, plain language to avoid any misunderstandings. Follow up with a meeting with the manager. Find out if the manager is following this description and how it has been adapted. Look at what tasks they have given and, most of all, get the employees’ input.
The next step is to look into what additional skills and tasks could be added to job requirements. At this point, it’s important to avoid creating a wish list which you then turn into an actual requirement for the job. You need to check if these additional skills are necessary; talk with employees and verify if the additional skills are required and that the extra workload is manageable.
In either case, the aim is not to overwhelm employee(s) with unrealistic expectations and then to discipline them for not achieving. The last thing employers or managers want to do is hinder productivity or innovation. This is why you need to stay within what is essential.
This doesn’t mean you can’t add more responsibilities or skills/training. This you can build and insert gradually, within reason.
The aim of this procedure has three parts: the first is to look within, the second is to identify what you are missing and the third is to determine if you are being diverse. When you are looking into your organization, you want to assess employees, their skills and abilities, ensure you allow them to use their strength and, most of all, isolate their challenges so you can provide support.
The first part is crucial when working with neurodiverse employees. An employee who has ADHD or dyspraxia may face difficulties that hinder their performance; they might face barriers because management is either not providing support or spending too much time focusing on those challenges and not utilizing the employees where they are strong. As a result, skills get missed and abilities are under-used.
In the second part of the talent audit, you look at what skills and abilities you are lacking in the workplace to be more competitive and innovative. This aspect presumes you know where you want to grow the company and what direction you want to move.
This is an opportunity to consider the talent you haven’t thought of before, which will require you to hire outside your usual status quo. Neurodiverse prospects tend to get overlooked or disqualified because they may not fit the type of professional you frequently hire. Or, you have hired them and they cannot reach their full potential because you try to fit them in a box.
You could build a neurodiverse team that specialize in the product or service you are looking to expand or offer. They may know the market well and give their experience. In either case, this team could provide the ‘out of the box’ thinking that you are lacking.
Lastly, there is the third part. Are you being diverse enough? Is your diversity limited to gender, race, or physical disability? Neurodiversity often gets overlooked and this is why it is also known as the neuro-minority. You can develop talent who have skills with mentoring and coaching. This creates an opportunity to hold on to talent, encourage growth and excel your company.
As you have seen in the first and second part, there is a huge talent pool which faces challenges in getting the same foothold as everyone else. That’s the point; treat them as equals by levelling out the playing field. When you do this, you find that your company becomes robust, agile, and competitive.
Creating Clear Direction
As you can see, implementing these two tools can help you fine-tune the job description, simplify the qualifications and open the doors to a great diverse set of talent. You are transforming your company by being people-centric which in turn will reap results that will help grow your business.