How recruiters are becoming more inclusive of autistic applicants


Diversity and inclusion is a key hiring consideration for our clients, and it’s no secret that neuro-diverse candidates provide untapped talent potential for IT clients facing ever demanding skills shortages.

Acorn's Pavan Arora talks to Recruitment Grapevine on being inclusive of autistic applicants.

 

According to the National Autistic Society, around 700,000 people are on the autism spectrum in the UK and just 16% of autistic adults are in full-time, paid employment. Of those who are unemployed, 77% claimed that they want to work. So why are these individuals facing life without a job?

It’s not a secret that neuro-diverse employees are some of the most creative individuals, as suggested by Pavan Arora, Head of Talent Development at Acorn Recruitment, however it seems autistic people may be misunderstood by employers and recruiters and as such not included or considered within the hiring process.

Due to this, Recruitment Grapevine caught up with several industry experts, including Acorn's Director of Permanent Recruitment and head of Talent Development Pavan Arora, to find out how the recruitment process can be more diverse and inclusive when it comes to autistic candidates…

 

Diversity and inclusion is a key hiring consideration for many of the clients we support through Acorn’s specialist recruitment teams, and it’s no secret that neuro-diverse candidates provide an untapped talent potential for IT clients otherwise facing ever demanding skills shortages.

Following in the footsteps of world leading tech companies in Silicon Valley, we have successfully hired software engineers with autism on behalf of a large UK software client, for instance, and adapted the interview process based on what the candidates were comfortable with.

The first stage was conducted over Skype so the candidate remained in familiar surroundings, something they told us was key to their confidence in engaging with someone who was ultimately a stranger.

Ultimately, keeping the same recruiters on hand throughout the process helps build up a level of understanding and trust through which autistic candidates feel able to express themselves, as does sticking to communication channels candidates feel most comfortable with.

Similarly, deadlines for the technical test were relaxed and for the second stage interview candidates were met by an HR manager with an awareness of autism and focussed on technical skills over social ability.

Ultimately, keeping the same recruiters on hand throughout the process helps build up a level of understanding and trust through which autistic candidates feel able to express themselves, as does sticking to communication channels candidates feel most comfortable with.

Providing photo identification of all the people candidates can expect to come into contact with also helps, as can a lot of free online resources available through various third sector organisations and larger corporates, many of which now run their own autism at work programmes.

Overall, a no rush attitude to the recruitment process where usually a decision might be required in two to three days, is probably the best approach to take in making sure neuro-diverse talent doesn’t fall through the net, as is consistency.

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