Welcome to my first of what I hope will be many contributions to the Autism community via Autism Daily Newscast. As a high functioning autistic person with a well-established career in the software industry, I expect to research and share with you patterns for success in your career endeavors. While it is frequently a challenge, I’m convinced that success can be yours.
The first stumbling block for many autistic professionals is the resume. This is a challenge for many people, including neurotypical (NT) workers. But for the autistic professional, our attention to detail and desire for completeness can result in a multi-page effort that the intended recipient may simply glaze over. A good rule of thumb is to fit everything you need to say legibly in one page. Who are you, what do you do, what have you done, and where have you worked? It’s also good to include any higher education history. But there is no need to be too verbose; offer some tantalizing highlights, and consider the resume as tasty bait with which to land a deeper conversation about your prospects.
The interview itself can be frightening, or downright traumatic. There are methods that have helped others to earn great feedback on their interviews, which frequently results in an offer. One mantra here is: “I already have the job. The interview is just their chance to make sure.” If you were honest on your resume, highlighting the things that you’re really good at, the interview can be a piece of cake. Employers aren’t simply asking questions to verify that you can recall a fact. Feel free to convey some of your enthusiasm for things that you enjoy working on. Offer real world examples of problems that you’ve solved, and how you solved them.
Remember, you are under no obligation to disclose that you are autistic. And the employer should not ask. Some people feel more comfortable disclosing their autism in the interview, which can help to lower anxieties around the table about differences in social behavior, as well as give you a great opportunity to talk about how your different way of experiencing the world will help them to solve problems. There is a lot of risk to weigh in taking this approach, though, as not all employers have a positive outlook towards autism.
Assuming your interview went well, you’ll have some negotiations about what sort of salary you expect. This is a delicate dance; if you’re too casual about this, you can count on being offered too little. But if you ask for too much, you may be rejected for the legitimate fear that you won’t hang around for long if you end up with much less than what you ask. Many like using salary surveys at sites like Glassdoor which will show you how people in your field, right in your local area, are getting paid. Good employers are also looking at these numbers, so if you’re honest about your industry experience level and match your desired pay to what others at your level in the industry are making, your chances of closing a deal are much higher.
This is, of course, only a high-level picture of some of the myriad considerations of landing and keeping a job. May success be yours!