Wednesday, 25 August 2010

"Aspies are far from unemployable" - but fall at the hurdle of the job interview

Found this on the Guardian, which sums up what I went through while out of work, and could well go through again while at the mercy of the open market. That is in remembering that the job I've got now is through a ring-fenced scheme where I had to have a disability and out of work a year to qualify.

"The prospective employer reads the unwillingness to shake hands, difficulty making eye contact and hesitation in speech as coldness or incompetence, and the applicant is rejected." I'm not "unwilling" to shake hands but know I'm not as "firm" at it as its perceived I ideally should be. Fully agree about my hesitant speech though, this is the first time I've seen an article explicity referring to it as "coldness" though I had guessed from my experience of previous supervisors that they did seem to see me as "incompetent" from the tone they spoke to me with, and that when out of work and attending interviews that was again how it could be seen.

This puts another angle on the issue of whether or not to admit my condition on the initial written application, if it is an open covering letter rather than an application form with a disability question. On one hand I'm told "don't say it as you just won't get an interview", on the other it may help to prepare them for my hesitant speech. That said of course there were those interviews I had where I had said it in my letter, still got interviewed, but they hadn't noticed it and still wanted the communication aspects of the jobs so was eliminated anyway.

The comment on the article by a writer called "Darkblade" puts it well: "Most job application forms have a place where you can fill in if you have a disability or similar. Maybe it would be advisable for people with Asperger's syndrome to complete this section. Perhaps they don't want to because they fear stigma and misunderstanding - and think that this will mean they just won't get the interview in the first place. Or, getting to interview stage, there is often a question beforehand about 'special requirements' where, I suppose, it's expected that people might ask about wheelchair access etc, but it might also be appropriate to mention if the candidate has Asperger's syndrome so that it can be taken into account at the interview. I think that in order to encourage people to 'disclose' Asperger's syndrome at application or pre-interview stage, employers definitely need to be educated better about Asperger's syndrome". I've been saying this for ages, courses like Flexible Routeways and New Deal focus so much on "its always the jobseeker that needs coaching" hence putting people through all these role plays about plane crashes and nuclear holocausts, yet it is employer education that is much needed.

One comment writer called "Muggedbyreality" does seem to hold firm their belief that people with AS are unemployable and makes a sarcastic comment about whether they are going to be told to employ someone with AS in sales. Another called "ThermoStat" stands up to Muggedbyreality asking "What do you suggest? That Aspies are left unemployed and in receipt of benefits for their entire life. Is that sustainable?" Muggedbyreality replies "Of course not. But private companies are not charities - why should they be expected to redefine the way they work or take people who aren't suited for the job? The author is asking for what are essentially either sinecures in HR or a complete change to the way HR works." It's not about asking for a complete change to the way HR works but more subtle redefinition of some manpower in a team should not be too much to ask in a reasonably sized employer.

1 comment:

  1. I'm 49 years old, recently diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome and have never had a job.

    For thirty years I have been begging for help but no-one has wanted to know.