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Guidance for Neurodivergent Job Seekers


When we set out to explore the topic of hiring neurodivergent talent written for employers and hiring managers, we knew we’d want to do a companion piece with advice for neurodivergent job seekers, too. We came away with more questions than answers, unfortunately (which likely doesn’t surprise you if you do happen to be neurodivergent). We did gather some great advice and resources, though.

As you probably know, neurodivergency is most commonly associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) but it can also include ADHD, dyslexia, dyscalculia, sensory processing disorders, Tourette Syndrome and dozens of other diagnosable and rarely diagnosed traits outside what’s deemed to be standard thinking and behaving. It’s said that up to 17% of the population has been diagnosed with a neurodivergent condition. But since as much as 17% of the population may be dyslexic, about 4% of adults are believed have ADHD, and more than 2% are on the autism spectrum, you can see how that statistic could skew very low. Diagnosis is tricky, too. It’s believed that fewer than 50% of neurodivergent individuals know that they are. And then there’s the definition of what’s considered neurodivergent. Anxiety disorders as well as bipolar and mood disorders can cause neurodivergent behaviors. There are also acquired neurodivergent conditions like PTSD to consider.


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Therefore, the issue is complicated for even well-meaning employers to get right despite at least 1 in 5 of their job candidates conceivably being neurodivergent. Take a moment to read our previous post, which includes the career stories of several autistic professionals who were diagnosed in adulthood. It also discusses the potential problems with specific autism and neurodiversity hiring programs. Several neurodivergent professionals and job seekers alike have told us that these programs too often try to, once again, frame something that is outside the normal structure (the very definition of neurodivergent).

We had a candid conversation with Wesley Faulkner, a developer relations professional and Head of Community at SingleStore, who has plunged into exploring neurodiversity in tech after his own adulthood diagnosis of dyslexia and ADHD. Faulkner has worked for MongoDB, IBM, Applied Materials, Integrated Devices, Dell, AMD, and Atlassian, and sits on the Interactive Advisory Board for SXSW. He helped us craft three key tips for job seeking through the lens of being neurodivergent.

  1. Advocate for yourself. Wherever you fall on the spectrum of neurodiversity, you have the right to seek the accommodations that will help you succeed. Faulkner pointed us to org as a resource. The site can help you identify whether your condition is covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act and (whether it is or not) what accommodations you may want to ask for to perform well in the position. Some employers make it easy to ask for accommodations as early as the application process. For instance, Microsoft mentions in its job listings, “If you need assistance and/or a reasonable accommodation due to a disability during the application or the recruiting process, please send a request via the Accommodation request form.”
  2. Seek out candid feedback. Faulkner says there are some brave souls outing employers on social media but, particularly for tech professionals, non-disclosure agreements can inhibit public feedback. He told us that Glassdoor and some private whisper networks may be the best places to find more candid discussions of employers who “get it.” Some of these groups are on Slack, Discord or even in private Facebook Groups. And, of course, don’t forget to search your LinkedIn for people you know who have worked for the employer and ask for their feedback and observations regarding the work culture and environment.
  3. Look for clues that employers are at least trying to be inclusive. The job description is the first clue. “The job description should not be about how things are done but about what things are done,” Faulkner says. Look for a general culture of support and openness. Do they honor holidays like National Coming Out Day? Do they have DEI initiatives or hiring programs for women, people of color, or other minorities? How is mental health support reflected in their benefits?

It can feel like an uphill battle to research, advocate for yourself, and then rinse and repeat, but we’ve heard from the folks we’ve talked to that there are signs awareness is growing among employers. The progress, however, isn’t linear.

“I think we need to stop the evolution of exclusive workplace practices, to change the frame that says ‘progress/evolution is defined in this direction only’ into a new frame that questions the value of that type of ‘progress.’ I think about this sort of thing a lot. Turning the ship around won’t be as easy as just identifying and documenting the ‘right way’ to include neurodivergent folks,” says Jessica Jahns, senior data analyst at ChromeData, a division of J.D. Power, and an independent thought-leader/blogger at, where she writes about her lived experience and observations as a late-diagnosed autistic woman.

In the meantime, a recruiter can help as both a coach and sounding board. They can help you prepare your responses to and positioning with employers who don’t have defined processes to hire neurodivergent talent. (As Faulkner puts, companies that show resistance against hiring someone who is neurodiverse most like already are interviewing and even hiring neurodiverse individuals, they just don’t know it.) A recruiter can also serve as a buffer between you and the employer, working through concerns and unconscious biases the employer may have while you focus more fully on what’s most important: Illustrating how well you can do the job.


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