Four Ways to Attract Neurodivergent Talent

In a new report, WilsonHCG breaks down how your company can be inclusive and successfully hire the best neurodivergent talent. Here are the key steps that the firm suggests: Educate yourself and your team about neurodivergent talent, adapt your recruitment process, consider skills over education, and build continuous engagement.

August 11, 2023 – With record low unemployment numbers in many countries but open roles that still need to be filled, executive search consultants say that organizations are expanding their talent pools and seeking innovative ways to hire. Some are focusing on skills-based hiring and building strong talent pipelines for their future requisitions; others are developing their internal mobility programs to upskill current employees to fulfill these needs, according to a newly released report from WilsonHCG’s Stewart Cato.

“Whatever strategy is adopted, approaching hiring with inclusivity and the goal of attracting a diverse candidate pool should be of utmost importance,” said the study. “This will not only increase applications but improve your company’s revenue and margin attainment.”

In its report, WilsonHCG takes a closer look at neurodivergent talent and how you can ensure your hiring practices are inclusive and welcoming to a diverse group of people. Here are four key steps that the search firm says will help in hiring neurodivergent talent.

1. Educate yourself and your team on neurodiversity 

Build your knowledge of neurodiversity by engaging with organizations that work with neurodivergent individuals. “This will allow you to identify how you can build processes into your recruitment process that make them feel comfortable applying at your organizations,” the report said. “These organizations will also help you network with their members, connecting you with potential candidates and provide ongoing support for you and your new hires. Being an ally to these organizations will also help you communicate your company’s employee value proposition (EVP), reinforcing your commitment to supporting neurodivergent candidates.”

Better understanding of neurodivergent individuals will help you design the right attraction strategy, says WilsonHCG. Don’t forget to educate your hiring community (e.g., hiring managers, screeners, and interviewers) as they need to understand how they should interview to ensure fairness in the process as well as what neurodivergent talent can offer their team.

2. Adapt your recruitment process to include neurodiverse candidates 

When building your job ads, make sure you clearly state what you’re looking for in a candidate and avoid using words that are confusing or have double meanings. “This helps neurodivergent candidates understand the role they are applying for,” WilsonHCG said. “The job title and the first line in the job description should be clear for anyone to understand the role. When building templates, ensure accessibility in your language choices and train your team on what to include and avoid.”

Stewart Cato is the vice president of talent operations at WilsonHCG. He has years of expertise managing and delivering complex, multi-region technical talent solution programs for international clients across EMEA, NAM and APAC.

Additionally, the WilsonHCG report says to think about the skills you’re looking for and how you can best understand someone’s knowledge. “A traditional face-to-face interview might not be the best format if the role requires more practical engagement,” the report said. “Ensure any instructions during the hiring process are clear (and confirm they understand), so candidates understand expectations. Of course, you should always provide reasonable accommodations for any candidate who requests it, but we mean adapting the process for all candidates to better assess their abilities to perform the role’s function.”

Fifty-nine percent of neurodiverse respondents mention a lack of support in their organizations and fear disclosing their neurodiversity “may negatively impact their future within their companies” according to a U.K.-based 2023 Sparta Global survey.

3. Consider skills over education 

Education may be an important qualification for some roles, but neurodivergent individuals may possess unique skills and strengths that are not highlighted by the traditional education system, according to the WilsonHCG report. Are there other ways for candidates to be evaluated?

Related: A Look at Emerging Trends Affecting Leadership Teams Today

“It’s certainly a consideration to make as you approach the hiring process,” the report said. “Neurodivergent talent may have a different learning style and alternative education paths, so leaning into skills-based hiring will open the talent pool naturally. Be aware that hiring managers tend to have a bias for candidates who are like themselves, but this reduces the cognitive skills within your organization. Educating your hiring managers on how to assess candidates based on their skills will promote inclusivity and equality in your recruitment efforts. Help them understand the benefits of making the role more accessible to a broader group of candidates.”

“Seventy-five percent say hiring, promoting, and deploying people based on skills (vs. tenure, job history, or network) can help democratize opportunity and improve access to it,” according to Deloitte’s 2023 Global Human Capital Trends.

4. Build continuous engagement 

“Once you’ve built inclusivity into your recruitment process, you may be asking yourself how you engage neurodivergent talent,” the WilsonHCG report said. “You don’t want to see them walk out the door to your competitors. The most important part about attracting neurodivergent talent is to build a culture of belonging that supports it. Every individual in your organization must feel like the environment is welcoming and supportive. This minimizes attrition and leads to more diversity; it’s a cycle.”

Top 5 Trends Impacting Senior Leaders Half Way Through 2023
Organizations around the world are facing historic disruption that hasn’t been seen in generations. With continuous shifts in the economic and employment outlook, the rapid rise of technological advancements, and other unprecedented factors that are helping to define today’s workplaces, it’s imperative that organizations grasp these trends and harness them to their advantage. “As we enter the second half of 2023, these movements continue to be top of mind for business leaders,” said a recent report from real estate-focused executive search firm 20/20 Foresight.

WilsonHCG says to be open and transparent throughout your organization (from top to bottom and across departments) and use multiple methods of communication to get business messages out there, including:

• Group calls.

• One-on-ones.

• Face-to-face communication.

• Online chat platforms.

• Anonymous suggestion boxes.

“Be sure employees know they can be their authentic selves and have an outlet for sharing ideas and improvements with the business,” WilsonHCG said. “Provide mentorship programs, with trained individuals who offer guidance, support and personalized assistance to newcomers. Mentors can help navigate the complexities of your organization and make new hires feel comfortable, no matter their background. They’ll know they have a support system and someone they can always turn to within the business.”

Making Inclusivity a Priority 

WilsonHCG says to get executives to buy-in that you are not trying to meet a diversity quota and, instead, want to drive a cultural change that will benefit the organization and everyone in it. “This will make it much easier to commit to the shifts that may need to happen to ensure inclusivity in the hiring process,” the firm said. “Remember, neurodiversity is a superpower. When you harness this extraordinary talent, you’ll see a more balanced, creative and innovative workforce from which all employees will benefit.”

WilsonHCG has offices throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. The firm’s presence spans more than 65 countries and six continents. It has more than 700 employees serving clients across six continents and 40 countries.

Related: CEOs Anticipate a Possible Recession

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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