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with the gap in employment that I have now had, and the computer platform on which I had that experience is relatively outdated.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.

1 comment:

  1. When I started in computer programming in 1969, it was a specialist task, but as technology progressed, the need for a high level of technical skills diminished (or was perceived to diminish) and employers increasingly looked for jack-of-all-trades.

    Employers in all industries are increasingly more concerned about having supposedly friendly people, who are often anything but that.