When it comes to attracting the best talent, it’s important to write job descriptions that are accessible and inclusive to all candidates. However, in many cases, job descriptions are often written in a way that is not inclusive to neurodivergent individuals. This can make it difficult for neurodivergent candidates to fully understand the requirements of the role and can result in them not applying at all.
In this blog, we will discuss the do’s and don’ts of writing accessible job descriptions to help you attract neurodivergent talent. We will explore some best practices for creating job descriptions that are inclusive and effective in attracting a diverse pool of candidates.
What is Neurodiversity?
Before we dive into the details of writing accessible job descriptions, let’s define what we mean by neurodiversity. Neurodiversity refers to the natural variations in the human brain and nervous system. It includes conditions such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Dyslexia, and many others.
Individuals with neurodiverse conditions often have unique strengths and abilities that can be incredibly valuable in the workplace. However, due to the lack of understanding and support for neurodiverse individuals, they are often excluded from the workforce, leading to a significant talent pool being overlooked by hiring managers.
DO: Focus on skills and outcomes, not just qualifications
When writing a job description, it’s easy to get bogged down in qualifications and requirements. But for neurodivergent individuals, this can be particularly discouraging, especially if they feel like they don’t meet every single requirement listed. Instead, focus on the skills and outcomes that are necessary for success in the role. What will the person in this job actually be doing? What skills will they need to accomplish those tasks? By emphasising the skills and outcomes, you’re giving neurodivergent candidates a better sense of whether they could be successful in the role.
For example, let’s say you’re hiring a customer service representative. Instead of saying, “Must have excellent communication skills and a degree in business,” try something like, “You’ll be responsible for providing outstanding service to our customers, so we’re looking for someone who can communicate clearly and empathetically, whether by phone, email, or chat. A degree in business is a plus, but not required if you have other relevant experience.”
DO: Consider alternative qualifications and experiences
Neurodivergent individuals may not have followed the traditional educational or career paths, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have valuable skills and experiences to offer. Consider alternative qualifications and experiences that may be relevant to the role. This could include volunteer work, personal projects, or non-traditional educational backgrounds.
For example, let’s say you’re hiring a graphic designer. Instead of saying, “Must have a degree in graphic design and three years of experience,” try something like, “We’re seeking a creative graphic designer who can bring fresh ideas and unique perspectives to our team. While a degree in graphic design is a plus, we’re also open to candidates with relevant experience, including personal projects or volunteer work.”
DO: Use clear and concise language
Using clear and concise language is essential when writing a job description. This is especially important when it comes to attracting neurodivergent candidates, who may have difficulty processing complex language. Use simple words and short sentences to convey your message. Avoid using jargon or technical language that may be unfamiliar to some candidates.
For example, instead of saying “We are looking for a candidate who possesses exceptional communication skills and has experience working in a fast-paced environment,” try saying “We need someone who can communicate well and work quickly.”
DO: Provide clear instructions and expectations
Neurodivergent individuals may benefit from clear instructions and expectations for the application process and the job itself. Be sure to provide clear and concise instructions for how to apply, what materials are required, and what the interview process will entail. Additionally, be clear about the expectations for the role, including job responsibilities, performance metrics, and company culture.
For example, let’s say you’re hiring a social media specialist. Instead of saying, “Must have experience managing social media accounts,” try something like, “We’re seeking a social media specialist who can help us create engaging content and build our brand on social media platforms. Key responsibilities include managing social media accounts, developing content calendars, and analysing performance metrics. We’re looking for someone who is creative, detail-oriented, and passionate about social media.”
DO: Highlight the company culture and values
Neurodivergent individuals may be particularly attuned to the culture and values of a company. They may be looking for a workplace that is supportive, inclusive, and values diversity. By highlighting your company culture and values, you’re sending a message that you’re committed to creating a welcoming and supportive environment for all employees.
For example, let’s say you’re hiring a marketing coordinator. Instead of saying, “Looking for a marketing whiz who can drive sales and increase revenue,” try something like, “We’re seeking a marketing coordinator who can help us tell our brand story and connect with our customers in authentic and meaningful ways. Our company values inclusivity, creativity, and collaboration, and we’re committed to creating a workplace where everyone feels valued and supported.”
DON’T: Use vague or confusing language
Job descriptions that are full of jargon or buzzwords can be off-putting to anyone, but they can be especially confusing for neurodivergent individuals who may struggle with language processing. Keep your language clear and concise, and avoid using terms that may not be widely understood. If you do use acronyms or industry-specific terms, be sure to explain them clearly.
For example, let’s say you’re hiring a software engineer. Instead of saying, “Looking for a rockstar developer who can hit the ground running with Node.js and React,” try something like, “We’re seeking a skilled software engineer who can work with Node.js and React to build scalable and reliable applications. If you’re not familiar with these technologies but have experience with similar frameworks, we’d still love to hear from you.”
DON’T: Use negative language or focus on weaknesses
Job descriptions that emphasize what the candidate can’t do or what they’re lacking can be particularly discouraging for neurodivergent individuals, who may already feel like they’re up against societal stereotypes and biases. Instead, focus on what the candidate can do and the strengths they’ll bring to the role.
For example, let’s say you’re hiring a data analyst. Instead of saying, “Must have attention to detail and be able to spot errors,” try something like, “We’re seeking a data analyst who can help us turn complex data sets into actionable insights. Strong analytical skills, an eye for detail, and the ability to identify patterns are all key strengths we’re looking for in a candidate.”
DON’T: Rely on traditional hiring methods
Traditional hiring methods, such as interviews and resumes, may not be the best fit for all neurodivergent candidates. Consider alternative methods, such as skills assessments or work samples, that may be more inclusive and better showcase the candidate’s abilities.
For example, instead of relying solely on interviews, consider using a skills assessment or work sample to evaluate the candidate’s abilities in a more objective and inclusive way. This can help reduce bias and ensure that all candidates have a fair opportunity to showcase their skills and abilities.
In conclusion, writing job descriptions that attract neurodivergent talent requires a thoughtful and inclusive approach. By focusing on skills and outcomes, highlighting company culture and values, and providing clear instructions and expectations, you can create job descriptions that are more appealing and inclusive to neurodivergent candidates. Additionally, by considering alternative qualifications and experiences and using alternative hiring methods, you can ensure that all candidates have a fair and equal opportunity to showcase their skills and abilities. By taking these steps, you can help build a more diverse and inclusive workplace that benefits everyone.