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"Cracking the Code: Navigating Recruitment as a Neurodivergent Graduate in 2024"

Calling all Neurodivergent Final year Uni students!

As you commence the final year of your degree and start exploring the vast array of exciting graduate career opportunities available to you, ensure you keep the unique strengths and talents you possess front of mind.

Navigating Graduate recruitment processes can be daunting, even for your Neurotypical peers. BUT Fear not - you got this!

As a Career Coach who has spent the last 8 years coaching University students; I previously ran one of the largest Graduate Recruitment processes in the country and helping people make their first career decisions is one of my favourite areas of work.

I have tailored this guide specifically to help you succeed in securing your dream graduate role and if you feel like you want more support - reach out to me, I would love to help!

1. Lean into your Strengths

Embrace your neurodivergence as a strength, not a limitation. Reflect on your specific abilities, whether it is attention to detail, pattern recognition, or creative problem-solving. These valuable skills are assets that graduate employers are looking for. Do not feel that you need to apologise for being you – instead own and market your differences and treat yourself as a valuable commodity.

2. Leverage your interests

Neurodivergent people tend to have interest lead brains. This means we do our best work when we are interested in the topic. It often also means it is nearly impossible to engage with work we are disinterested in. As such, even more so than other people, it is beneficial to use your interests to drive your career choices, rather than be ‘strategic’ and follow a career for reasons such as money, progression etc. These things tend to come anyway if you are good at something.

Make a list about the causes you are passionate about, your interests and the things you would love to change in the world and consider how you might use these in some way in your career.

3. Research Companies Thoroughly

Before applying, delve into company cultures, values, and diversity initiatives.

Seek out organisations that signal safety by openly talking about Neurodiversity and Disability on their websites and in their marketing material. Look beyond the surface—read employee testimonials and explore an organisation’s commitment to accessibility in terms of policies such a Workplace Adjustments.

4. Practice makes perfect

Interviews can be nerve-wracking, but preparation is key:

  • Research Common Questions: Anticipate questions related to teamwork, problem-solving, and adaptability. Look for the key criteria as clues on what to expect.

  • Prepare but do not script: Trying to remember a script uses valuable brain power. Instead, have an idea of what you want to say but practice speaking without scripting.

  • Practice: Even just rehearsing answers in the mirror can be helpful. if possible, get feedback from an expert by completing a mock interview. A coach can help you do this and will provide guidance on how to fine tune your answers.

  • Disclose Strategically: You are not obligated to disclose your neurodivergence, but if you choose to, frame it positively. Explain how it enhances your abilities and will make you a valuable asset to the organisation whilst also asking for the adjustments you need.

5. Ask for Adjustments if you need them

Do not hesitate to ask for adjustments during interviews or assessments. An inclusive organisation will always ask all candidates if they need an adjustment to participate.

Feel free to ask for more information on the Recruitment process before you ask for what you need. Whether you ask for the interview questions 24 hrs in advance, need a quiet waiting room, or have specific communication preferences, advocating for your needs is essential. Good companies will be receptive and committed to accessibility and if they are not, well…. it is unlikely to be a good match for you in the long run.

6. Ace the Assessment Stage

Many graduate programs involve assessments or tests. Here’s how to excel:

  • Read Instructions Carefully: Take your time and understand what is expected.

  • Remember Your Strengths: If it is a coding challenge, leverage your logical thinking. If it is a case study, showcase your analytical skills.

  • Stay Calm: Remember, assessments are about assessing your abilities, not trick questions.

  • Ask for an alternative: Standardised testing be inherently biased. Do not be afraid to ask for an alternative type of assessment if you believe you are not being assessed fairly for your Neurotype e.g. timed tests for a person with slow processing speed would be an unfair assessment.

7. Stay Resilient

Rejections happen. Unfortunately, not all organisations are inclusive (yet!), and we still have a long way to go in terms of neuro-inclusion in many workplaces. Do not allow an organisation’s failure to understand your unique value to impact your mental health. Learn from each experience, even if you are not successful, apply a growth mindset and look for the next, better opportunity. Persistence pays off.

8. Maintain Perspective

Whilst your graduate role may feel like the biggest decision you have made so far, remember this is one of many moments of choice in your lifelong Career.

Most people will have between 5-7 different careers over their lifetime. All you need to do right now is identify and follow the best choice you can at the moment. Sometimes there will be several steps in-between the job you can do right now and the job you really want and sometimes, you may realise you need to rethink.

It's all part of the process.

10. Celebrate Your Successes

When you land that first role after University, you should celebrate big!

You have succeeded in demonstrating your capabilities and are on your way to creating an exciting future. Your neurodivergence will be an asset in your career if you make it so. Good luck! 🌟🎓

If you are a Neurodivergent student/graduate I would love to help you navigate recruitment processes and secure a role you love.

Alternatively, if you are an awesome Graduate Recruiter, program manager or HR professional looking for ways to ensure you run a fair, equitable and neuro-inclusive recruitment process without breaking the bank, let's talk!

Book a no-obligation complimentary 15 minute chat here to discuss how I can help you achieve your goals.

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