Job searching can strike fear in the hearts of autistics. First off, needing a new job, which is the case for so many during this current economic crisis, is frightening enough. But coupled with the crushing statistic that over a third of autistic young adults do not have jobs and 85% of autistic college grads are unemployed, the challenges of finding employment can be paralyzing.
But autistics can find and sustain jobs, especially when the proper environments, supports, and strategies are put in place. Here are a few tips from my life experience that can help give auties a good start to this daunting process:
1) Decide whether or not you will disclose your diagnosis. This depends on your personal needs and supports. Take a look at the job environment (online or in person) and determine if your employer needs to give accommodations or if you can adequately accommodate yourself.
2) Use job boards. Indeed is a personal favorite. These boards offer lists of open positions that are searchable by keyword. Often, applicants can apply to open positions directly on the job board, which eases stress.
3) Use templates for resumes and cover letters. Never exclude a cover letter from applications. Refine your resume and cover letter for each position that you are applying to. If you do not have strong prior work experience, highlight your academic accolades and references. Always include a “Skills” area that underscores your self-taught strengths in technology, language, and/or writing and the arts.
4) Practice job interview scenarios. Look up commonly-asked interview questions and role play with a trusted companion. Prepare three skills that you want to share with an interviewer, and draw up a few questions that you will ask the employer about the mission of their workplace. The interviewer will always ask if you have any questions. Be mindful that this is not the ideal time to ask about pay or vacation. Pose questions about the organization’s goals instead.
5) Remember, if you’ve secured an interview, that means you are already an ideal candidate. Proceed with confidence, not anxiety. Fake it till you make it.