Hi, I’m Craig Kendall, the author of The Asperger’s Syndrome Survival Guide. In today’s issue we will discuss…
How Adults with Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome Can Land a Great Job
When you have Asperger’s syndrome, a form of high functioning autism, the job search and especially the interview can be markedly more difficult than for typical peers. You may be a smart, experienced candidate with great work ethics, but how are you supposed to get that across to the interviewer?
Some people on the autism spectrum have trouble looking others in the eye, they may fidget during job interviews or they may come across as if they are not serious and engaged. They may have trouble communicating in a way that shows the employer just how much they are really capable of. Here are some tips that might help.
Adults with Asperger’s syndrome – 7 Job Search Tips
1. The Internet can help especially for adults with Asperger’s syndrome
These days, a lot of advertisements for jobs are posted on the Internet. This eliminates the need for a daily paper or more complicated ways of searching (although you still should use those to complement your Internet searches if you don’t find something right away).
Use the Internet to make an initial list of jobs that look good to you, and then start calling or filling out applications. The Internet in many cases means you don’t have to send out physical applications, streamlining and making the whole process a lot easier. Make sure you look at www.Craigslist.org which lists job opportunities by city.
2. Consider a job where you can telecommute
For an adult with Asperger’s syndrome, there are many advantages to a job where you telecommute versus a traditional office job. The most obvious one for adults with Asperger’s syndrome is that body language, and reading other people’s non-verbal language is rarely an issue. Many telecommuting jobs even let you interview over the telephone, which allows your best traits to come out. No worrying about looking the interviewer in the eye, fidgeting, or where to put your hands.
There are many jobs that allow for telecommuting, from writing and artistic endeavors to computer programming. There are some companies where most employees telecommute … that is, they will send you whatever equipment you need to do your job, and you do it from home. That is quite useful because you can apply for national jobs no matter where you live.
Not having to deal with office politics, at least as overtly, and being in an environment where you don’t have to worry about sensory issues are also other advantages for adults with Asperger’s syndrome. You can try to use Google to find these jobs.
A few websites list a wide variety of jobs where companies post listing, you respond over the internet and are hired over the internet. There is no actual in-person communication. A great site which lists many jobs in writing, computer programming, website work, and graphics design (all great jobs for adults with Asperger’s syndrome) is www.Elance.com. Another is www.freelancer.com.
3. Take advantage of every opportunity in your area
If you can find recruiters to interview with that might be able to hook you up with a good job, then go for it. A recruiter (or “head hunter”) may be able to help an adult with Asperger’s syndrome navigate the challenge of the interview process. Most recruiters make a commission if you are hired. And they will talk directly with the hiring company, on your behalf, to explain or overcome issues that the company may have with you in order to get you hired.
If your local employment center offers networking classes or events, then try them out. If you have access to any sort of interview preparation programs either on the computer or in person, then practice, practice, practice. There may be some government assistance offered to those with a formal diagnosis of autism so ask at your local employment office. Even though it may seem pointless or fruitless in the short term, leave no stone unturned in your effort to find a job and successfully apply for it.
4. Practice, practice, practice
It goes without saying that the interview is the most important part of this process.
Find someone who will practice interviewing with you. Practice over and over again, until you can answer interview questions in your sleep. Look up common questions on the Internet.
Common questions include those about your strengths and weaknesses, particular instances of times when you delivered superior performance or used problem solving skills to solve a unique and difficult problem in your previous job.
When asked about your weaknesses, minimize them. Say something like “Some people say I take my work too seriously.” You don’t want them to know what your actual weaknesses are, but you don’t want to say nothing, either.
5. Adults with Asperger’s syndrome are visual so video tape your practice interviews
Adults with Asperger’s syndrome are often very visual. If you could see yourself as you practice interview, you can see ways to improve. If you have a video camera, or if your phone takes videos, have a friend or family member video tape you while you practice your interview. Watching the video can help you see ways to improve. You may see that you are fidgeting or picking at your nose! Things that you did not realize as you practiced.
6. Don’t worry — you can succeed!
The job search and interview process will drive most people crazy sooner or later. Adults with Asperger’s syndrome, in particular, often have high anxiety levels and worry a lot. You may feel that there is so much to worry about… Did I do this right? Could I have done this better? Did I say the wrong thing? And so forth.
Find some ways to let off steam after an interview. Do something you enjoy. Hopefully you have people who can listen to you and give you support during this process. Remember, it’s not easy for anyone. Don’t isolate yourself…reach out for help.
7. Other Tips
Research the company ahead of time so you can appear knowledgeable about what they do.
Try to look the interviewer in the eye if possible, or look at the tip of his or her nose if looking the person in the eye is uncomfortable. Most with Asperger’s syndrome have a nearly impossible time looking someone in the eye. But this is very important. At least look at the tip of the interviewer’s nose…they will never know the difference.
Ask someone for tips on how to dress appropriately. You might even want to go into the office ahead of time to see what style others are wearing, and try to copy it.
Practice being short and to the point, and not going on for too long.
On your resume, don’t feel compelled to put every miscellaneous job you have ever had (unless you haven’t had much job experience.) Only put the most relevant things, and only put jobs where you are fairly certain you would get a good reference.
Remember that as difficult as this is, you will get through it. Many have been in your shoes. Somewhere out there, there is a match for your talents, interests and skills. You just have to be patient and try not to lose hope, and meanwhile keep practicing those interview skills!
My book, Thriving in Adulthood with Asperger’s Syndrome has many tips and helpful advice for adults with Asperger’s syndrome. In it you will find suggestions and stories from those who have succeeded in getting a rewarding job.