How removing barriers is going to benefit everyone Ian Piper
Sometimes changing your methods of finding candidates can be essential in recruitment, particularly in the IT contract world where an immediate vacancy can spring up requiring urgent action with no time for job adverts. Coming into recruitment as a fresh grad I had tended to just go with what I had been told, after all, someone with 25 years’ experience will know how to source candidates better than I can.
It was only when I heard Catherine Leggett speaking on 5Live one night that I realised our existing methods whilst working extremely well, might hinder some applications. Catherine is an employment consultant at the National Autistic Society, and she spoke exceptionally about the struggles that face Autistic people in the recruitment process.
Typical recruitment methods may produce many challenges for autistic candidates at all stages of the process. Job descriptions with a long list of unnecessary skills can be off-putting. Interviews and communicating their own skills can be problematic, particularly when much of it is done over the phone. At Certus it is typical for our first contact with candidates to be over the phone, before meeting them and sending them to our clients. On the IT desk, we had been flirting with skill assessments to differentiate the best candidates from the rest of the pack. Even though we appreciated how important technical competency in the form of tests was in IT roles, phone conversations remained prominent throughout the process and it was only when I heard Catherine speak that I realised this may have put limitations on sourcing the best candidates available.
Our IT Desk is in a fortunate position as it’s very new. This means we haven’t necessarily got embedded practices as is the case with many recruitment companies. When I realised how our methods had emphasised a candidate’s ability to communicate their skills rather than the skills themselves, I decided to get in touch with the National Autistic Society to see how we could change this.
It was made clear that rearranging some of our processes could open doors to excellent candidates we may not have accessed across the entire company. Changing the way our adverts are set up, aspects of our interview processes and placing more emphasis on a candidate’s skillset through tests, we could massively open the number of suitable candidates available to us for any given role.
Initially, our efforts will be focused on the IT desk, with hard work underway to adapt the process with a view to 2019 already. Many people will primarily think of autistic candidates that may have exceptional technical skills, and of course, given my role in IT recruitment, this is an aspect that was at the forefront of my mind when thinking about this issue. However, something the National Autistic Society are demonstrating so well is that Autistic candidates can offer so much beyond this stereotype. Employers are finding that autistic candidates demonstrate above-average levels of concentration, reliability, persistence, factual knowledge and memory and attention to detail. All of these are excellent attributes to have in a candidate.
To put it simply Certus need the best candidates so that our clients are successful. In order to do this, we need to make sure our practices don’t prevent people on the autism spectrum from entering the process. Hopefully adapting our strategy on the IT desk will be the start of an influx of great candidates to Certus.
For any information, advice and guidance for employers and autistic jobseekers please visit https://www.autism.org.uk/services/work.aspx