Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Market winding down for Christmas

Have sent six letters out this month but only four were for advertised vacancies, the remaining two being speculative ones now that an already subdued market is winding down further in the run up to Christmas.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

November's update

Early this month several posts came up at the hospital again which the Flexible Routeways guy showed me.

They all have "Person Specifications" and sure enough there was:
- Good interpersonal skills.
- Ability to work under pressure.
- Ability to keep calm when pressured.
- Ability to communicate confidential information
- Must be a good team player
- Confident approach (yeah having aspergers means I'm anything but "confident")

One specifically had:
- Good verbal and written communication skills to enable liaison with:
- Relatives/ carers
- Multi-Disciplinary Team
- Colleagues in other Departments across organisation/ external agencies/ organisations

I know I'm certainly not calm when pressured and as for the one with the contact with relatives and carers they'd be likely to be very stressed and angry, and quite why the Flexible Routeways guy thought I could do this .....

Another position somewhere completely different had some potential on with finance aspect, but again talked of phone contact. There's always a "sods law" catch somewhere.

Friday, 31 October 2008

October's update

Well I've been going to the Flexible Routeways sessions on Wednesday mornings. Its been all about application forms and interviews so far, and how to sell oneself. I can't sell myself well because they talk of being 100% positive and no negatives at all, but with having to admit a disability like Aspergers how do you do that? Thought they were meant to be doing their bit to sell us on our behalf, seems too much emphasis on "coaching the jobseeker" rather than persuading potential employers.

Did have one interview this month with an electricians' firm. Wasn't too hopeful when they said they wanted answering phones and said "do you think you'd get more confident with practice?" It was a devil of job explaining that Asperger really is a disability with confidence to the extent that they can't expect me to "practice". My confidence may increase slowly with positive contact but one knockback such as someone being irate would send it through the floor.

I've kept rolling out the applications to the best of my ability, latest is one payroll trainee at the hospital where I've tried a few applications before, and an accounts assistant at a local car dealership. Usual frustration at everyone's requirements for "communication skills".

Friday, 19 September 2008

"Flexible Routeways"

Well a few weeks on and I've gone to this local provider to start on "Workstep" only they want to switch to something new called "Flexible Routeways". To start with I've just been going in on Friday mornings for a "job club", just looking at provided papers and the internet. Was hoping to hear of some ring-fenced job opportunities, while what I've seen today is only what everyone else can see on the whole open market. Well, one positive is it is their electricity to use for a couple of hours.

Flexible Routeways is "about providing extra encouragement and practical support to help unemployed people move into sustainable employment that is relevant and suitable for their needs. People involved will have a package of support and training built around an understanding of their specific circumstances." It often feels like few understand Aspergers syndrome from an employment perspective.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Petition for public sector jobs for Asperger

The deadline for this petition to create public sector jobs for highly skilled people with Asperger syndrome passed yesterday with just 37 signatures. I'd hoped it would have been a lot more than that.

Friday, 15 August 2008


I'll be eligible for something called "Workstep" at the end of this month, just had an e-mail back from the disability adviser who arranges this. It is an employment programme provides support to disabled people facing complex barriers to getting and keeping a job. It also offers practical assistance to employers. Hopefully it may help sway someone into taking me on. That's now 17 letters in the two months since I had that temp position.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

National Autistic Society "I Exist"

I signed up for this on the NAS website and very soon after got an e-mail, to be forwarded to my local MP and social services. The e-mail contained a standard but editable template, I inserted text into this to say things needed to be put in place for those with AS most able to work overall, but being routinely denied work when "good communication", "confidence" etc is spewed over so many job specs.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Article from Personnel Today, "Awareness Campaign call for compact with employers"

Yet another article I've found, see it was dated approx a year ago, a press release sent to Personnel Today. It is calling for a national scheme, a year on this is still so badly needed with the NAS's Prospects only available in a select few areas.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Article from Times, "Who'll be first to offer disabled people a job?"

This article from the Times was interesting about the latest reforms on Jobseekers and disability benefits.

Go to the Have Your Say section and click "Show All Comments", there are 2 with reference to Asperger, one mother of a daughter with mild Asperger and epilepsy, she hardly even gets an interview even with good A levels, degree, numerate and literate, and has decent IT skills. Another one noting employers asking for "team players" in job descriptions.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

BBC link to 'Work for benefits' article - comments by Scope

This BBC news article is on the government's 'Work for benefits' plan.

What really struck the chord was the comment from the chief executive of Scope "Disabled people face a myriad of barriers in finding employment, including negative attitudes from employers and inadequate social care support. Punitive measures against individual disabled claimants will do nothing to remove these barriers" citing the "target-led ethos" underpinning the reforms.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

'Bosses say I'm not a team player' newspaper article

This link was interesting to read about trying to change workplace attitudes to Asperger syndrome.

Friday, 27 June 2008

Are they bucking the construction trend

Latest application just sent by e-mail is for Administrator with Accounts at a builders' merchants. The construction industry is in a slowdown with the housing market situation getting worse, still maybe these guys are bucking the trend if they're taking someone on.

Another one this week was an administrator with a local occupational health services provider. Like so many adverts they want involvement in reception and telephone enquiries aspects which I'm obviously not suited to with having Asperger, yet there's also so much I would do very well. I can only be honest with them.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Well, that was two weeks

So the temp job has finished today two round weeks on, I didn't count any chickens, but have been glad of it. Won't overly miss the very early starts and crowded return journeys but have appreciated it overall.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Lucky Friday 13th

Well its Friday 13th and this time its lucky, I've got another two days at the temp job. They've been good, appreciating that I was good at detail, a positive side of Aspergers, my supervisor had me matching the faxes and e-mails for the loan applications we work on.

Monday's train journey back was exceptionally bad, a train somewhere else broke down such that three trains worth of passengers joined mine until their common station. Funny thing was though that got people on the train talking who wouldn't have done otherwise.

Can really enjoy myself at the soul music dance I'm off out to tonight to celebrate Wednesday's birthday :-)

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Back in one piece

Well I've had the day and they've said I'm definite to stay to next Friday to start off with, ie a week and a half when done. I was on phone sometimes but don't have to do the most difficult communication and do not answer external calls. I do make some calls to applicants' stated workplaces to establish that they genuinely work there and ask them other "security" items, but this isn't confrontational like the suppliers of the place I was at in January. My supervisor understands I may need to pass a difficult call to someone with more authority and experience to know what to say.

The train journey back was a tad crowded, but then I expected that. Still I'm sure it wasn't as bad as driving into that city would have been, and the office didn't have many allocated parking spaces anyway.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

A day's work tomorrow

Just had one of my agencies call up, for a temporary assignment with a financial services company in the city about an hour's ride on train. They're saying to go down for a single day tomorrow but may be a week or two, depending how I get on and how the workload lasts. I'm excited yet nervous at the same time, description does speak of wanting a "confident telephone manner" but agency woman assured me she understands I'll be data inputting, and she's told them of my condition. Have I got butterflies in my stomach or what?

Thursday, 22 May 2008

I expected as much ...

E-mail from yesterday just come:
"It was nice to meet you yesterday and thank you for your time. Unfortunately, you have been unsuccessful on this occasion in obtaining the temporary post we interviewed you for. Good luck with any future applications."

Fingers crossed on the next couple of applications I've sent this week.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

The council interview

Well I'm not too hopeful. The test given at the start had lots of really advanced budget planning stuff and I've never dealt with anything like that in the finance roles I've had so far. And they do expect lots of communication too ....

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

"Britain on the Sick" on Panorama

This Panorama on "Britain on the Sick", prepared in the run-up to the reforms of "incapacity" benefits to the new "Employment Support" allowance.This link is to the comments page. See the 9th one down from the man in Worcestershire, yes another reference to Asperger and not doing well in interviews.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Two weeks after the interview ...

... I've now had the rejection letter, but have another one with the local council, a
temporary Finance Assistant. The post being advertised does sound a bit advanced, but maybe they're interviewing me if people have applied internally and there may be a vacancy lower down the chain.

Have sent another 6 letters off in these last two weeks, fingers crossed on any of those!

Thursday, 1 May 2008

The interview ...

Well just got back from the interview. Think the worst question was when they asked "what had I liked least about my last role". I had said about taking the phone calls from the irate suppliers, and they then asked me "so how did you overcome that?" I knew I hadn't overcome it per se, as it was part of my disability, I said so too. After all, would you expect someone in a wheelchair to "overcome" the possibility of working on scaffolding?

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

First interview of the year

Well its nearly the end of April, haven't got round to adding to the blog this month. Concentrating on the applications very hard. With loads of them out in these last 3 months, I've just got an e-mail for an interview for a Sales Ledger clerk at an industrial refrigerator manufacturer. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Joined net board for Asperger

Found another board to join about Asperger. Posted about my difficulties with job hunting in context of adverts ask for people with "good / excellent communication skills", sure enough had a few empathising replies.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

"Message waiting for you" from the hospital

Just had the e-mail
"You have been sent a message from the recruiter regarding your application for the following position:
Administration Officer
If you would like to see this message now, please click on the linkbelow and you will be taken to your 'My NHS Jobs' "

Well I logged in and sure enough it was a rejection. What a surprise!

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Two weeks into February ...

Well I've got back from the Jobcentre appointment. They were good about my situation and had noted in my jobseeker's agreement the "impact on work" of my disability was that I should not be expected to have direct face to face or telephone contact with customers. I did show them a rejection letter I'd already received by e-mail, the job had asked for "telephone skills" and I'd been honest about admitting that I wouldn't meet that aspect, but had tried anyway.

Have just set an account up on the NHS Jobs website for an application at the local hospital. Well they do have the two tick symbol, the role did look a bit senior but the jobcentre did seem keen to put me forward for it. Well it doesn't hurt to get started with a new account on the website anyway.

Friday, 15 February 2008

National Autistic Society 'I Exist' campaign - letter to MP

The UK National Autistic Society are running a campaign called 'I Exist' about the lack of adult services. The website allowed users to send an automatic letter to their MP, worked out by entering a postcode.

Standard text began:
I am writing to you because I am concerned that adults with autism, especially Asperger's Syndrome, in (town name would be shown here) are not getting the support and services that they need. Most adults with autism are isolated and ignored, are unable to access the right support, and are often completely dependent on their families.

Autism is a lifelong condition but most people have little or no support through their adult life. 63% of adults with autism do not have enough support to meet their needs, 61% rely on their families for financial support, and 40% still live with their parents. The Government, local authorities and health services do not know how many adults with autism there are. Staff assessing and supporting adults do not receive training in autism, and many adults do not fit the current criteria for any support.

There was then space to add persoanlised text so I entered:
I am 36 with a moderate condition of Asperger's Syndrome, and believe I am very capable of work, such that I would not be classed as "incapable" in terms of an Incapacity claimant. However find it so difficult to find a suitable role when so many job adverts ask for people with "good / excellent communication skills", not to mention that the pyschological nature of interviews also penalises people with this condition with such a heavy emphasis on selling oneself.

I would particularly like to see more proactive assistance from JobcentrePlus to help with introducting able adults with Asperger to prospective employers, making them aware of the disability but at the same time promoting the applicants' positive talents too. My own case is I have particularly good skills with computers and numeracy, I would be well suited to work in Finance (have done some temporary positions) or Software Programming (had experience before but on an old platform) however am excluded from many roles by the requirement for direct contact with customers. It would help to have someone to negotiate such job specifications as I often wonder how many employers could adjust their roles within teams such that someone with Asperger could actually be accommodated.

Standard text continued:
For adults to fulfil their potential, the Government must give priority to autism, remove barriers to support and understand and meet the needs of the many people who have been ignored for too long.

Specifically, I believe that the Government should:
- fund a study to find out how many adults with autism live in the UK. This information is essential to plan policy and services to meet their needs.

As my MP, I would like you to write to the Secretary of State for Health to ask for him to look into funding for this study and to respond to the campaign. I hope that you agree with me that it is about time changes were made locally and nationally to provide a better future for all people with autism.

In addition, to support The National Autistic Society’s campaign, please:
- raise these issues in parliament and sign the Early Day Motion 861 (tabled by Emily Thornberry MP)
- encourage your colleagues on the Health Select Committee to hold an inquiry into autism
- write to your Director of Adult Social Services to ask if a person or team has been appointed with responsibility for adults with autism spectrum disorders.

I look forward to receiving your reply. If you would like more information about our campaign, please call 020 7923 5799 (voicemail) or email thinkdifferently@nas.org.uk

Monday, 4 February 2008

Start of the blog

I've started this blog to tell of the tales of job searching with the disabilty of Asperger's syndrome. Chose the title because so many adverts ask for "good/excellent communication skills", the one thing I don't have because of this disabilty. In summary I'm 36, male, in UK.

Was in computer programming until a redundancy in Sept 2002. Had some interviews for more of the same but everyone wanted me to get involved in customer facing analysis and rejected me for not having the confidence for that. So often the employers did not want just a "Programmer" but an "Analyst/Programmer", the "analyst" aspect being involvement in customer/supplier meetings for which the employer would require "good/excellent communication skills" inherently excluding someone like myself. As time has continued to elapse, I also face the disadvantage that employers will not consider someone with the gap in employment that I have now had, and the computer platform on which I had that experience is relatively outdated.

I still did not start stating to employers that I had Asperger for a while though, my condition is at the mildest end. I was temping in general admin for a local public sector employer doing mostly data entry work. After a while they decided in all their wisdom to put me into the "full role" in the department on a fixed term contract for a year, but this full role entailed a lot more public contact where my lack of confidence showed. A month before the end of the contract I had an appraisal with the supervisor saying I "had to be resolute to improvement in my communication skills." This really hit me as I knew I could not "improve" substantially, but at the same time on my medical form for that employer I had put "not disabled" and I realised that I couldn't defend myself against this requirement to be "resolute to improvement" by telling the supervisor my disability, as if I did I'd have been in trouble for not saying it on the form. At the time of doing the form I didn't consciously think of myself as "disabled" anyway, as I wasn't "Registered disabled", guess I had not been sure if Asperger really counted as a "disability" given its non-medical nature.

During the time I'd been doing that temping though I had taken up Accounting courses, as a few people had suggested this would make similar use of my mental skills, added to the fact I already had some voluntary experience as a treasurer in a social club I belonged to. Eventually I got 3 and a bit months of temp placements doing that, though I've just recently had to finish one that didn't go well because I had to receive phone calls from suppliers that the employer was overdue paying, then the day after this finished started another one with high hopes only to get sent home at lunchtime because I "wasn't fast enough and wouldn't cut it". My parents were fairly sure there was more to it than that, namely being "a face that didn't fit."

Don't think my self-esteem can get much lower after this. I've applied for many permanent jobs but don't get offered them as the employers can inevitably find someone with better communication skills and turn me down. It is so frustrating to know I'm so capable of the work generally, if I could find a department with enough manpower for someone else to have the contact with customers and suppliers while I can get on with my job of transaction posting.