SPECIALISTERNE NETWORK

International Specialisterne Community

Specialisterne Foundation

Specialisterne Foundation is a non-for-profit organization that works to enable one million jobs for people with autism and similar challenges. The foundation owns Specialisterne Denmark and the Specialisterne concept and trademark.

More corporations are realizing the benefit of the passionate, innovative, and out-of-the-box thinking style that comes with the autistic mind, and they’re ready to employ different thinking. If you’re one of them, you may have already posted a few job listings, but you only seem to be attracting potential employees who are carbon copies of your current staff.

Why is that?

Your job descriptions are written in a way that doesn’t make sense to the autistic mind, and the candidate you’re hoping to land is sitting at their laptop, frowning in confusion as they skim over the acronyms, jargon, and corporate speak in your ad trying to find the actual job description, but they can’t–so they move on.

Another candidate lost before they ever walk in the door.

Why Your Job Descriptions Are Confusing Autistic Jobseekers

When I say your job descriptions are confusing, I don’t mean they’re confusing because the autistic candidate lacks the knowledge, experience, or intelligence to understand what you’re trying to convey; the disconnect is that what you’re trying to convey is written in ‘neurotypical language’, and it’s unintelligible to someone who speaks the ‘autistic language’.

I’ll give you some examples:

  • Jargon

If you’re using a lot of jargon and buzzwords in your job postings, I have bad news for you; studies have shown that abstract language as opposed to concrete language, can make a person (or a company) sound dishonest!

From a study published in the Personal & Social Psychology Bulletin:

In Experiments 1 and 2, it was found that statements of the very same content were judged as more probably true when they were written in concrete language than when they were written in abstract language.”

While your intention may be to sound more professional, your buzzword-packed job posting might inadvertently come across as if your business has something to hide–and that will immediately turn off potential candidates as many autistic folks are highly justice-oriented and thrive in honest and transparent working environments.

  • Vague

Job descriptions are often so cluttered with jargon that the actual expectations of the position itself are either not there, or they’re too vague for candidates to understand without having to ask follow-up questions–at a very awkward time in the job-seeking process.

This is especially true for your autistic candidates who are literal thinkers.

Job descriptions that are set up this way are immediately off-putting to even the most qualified and educated autistic candidate because it might as well be written in a foreign language we don’t speak.

  • Conflicting

Another issue with job descriptions is that the wording can be conflicting because it appears to contradict itself.

For example, “Must be detail-oriented and a multi-tasker.” Erm. While many autistic people excel at detailed and repetitive work, multi-tasking can be more of a challenge.

Furthermore, expecting meticulous work (when said work will often be interrupted midway) from anyone won’t get you the results you’re looking for, so expecting your candidates to do both is unrealistic and, therefore, comes across as conflicting.

  • Misleading

Job descriptions can also appear misleading to an autistic candidate because we take your words literally. For example, if you say a Bachelor’s Degree is required, and your candidate is a credit or two behind on their degree, even if they have all the necessary job experience, they are going to pass your listing by. If a degree is preferred, say preferred. If there are exceptions to your requirements, explicitly state them.

  • Social

Autistic people socialize differently than neurotypical people, and that can cause frequent misunderstandings between colleagues of different neurotypes. Therefore, if you use words like ‘social’, ‘dynamic personality’, or ‘fitting in’ in your job description, many of us won’t be able to hit the ‘x’ button fast enough because we know we’ll be in for a world of stress just trying to fit in socially, never mind doing the actual job.

The Takeaway

Write your job descriptions in plain language.

What do you want your candidate to do? What tasks are they expected to perform on the job? What experience do you require? What experience do you prefer but isn’t actually required? What education do you require? What education do you prefer but isn’t actually required?

The more specific, the better.

Look at your current job postings. Do they contain more buzzwords than they do concrete explanations of the job, its requirements, and explanations of the type of candidate you’re looking for? If so, it might be time for a rewrite.

Also, consider this, when you write in ‘code’, you discourage and exclude so many qualified candidates because the amount of people who can decipher your meaning is limited, and they already think like you (so there goes your plan for innovation)!

If you’re aiming for true diversity and inclusion, write your job descriptions in a clear, concise way that’s easy for people of all backgrounds and brain types to understand.

This not only provides accessibility, it expands your talent pipeline so you can stay ahead of future work trends.

Sources:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/carolinecastrillon/2021/06/27/why-employers-should-avoid-jargon-in-job-postings/?sh=4be9cdad6749

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0146167210386238

https://hbr.org/2023/01/9-trends-that-will-shape-work-in-2023-and-beyond