Increasing Neurodiverse Talent in Tech and Engineering

increase neurodiverse hiring in tech and engineering

In an increasingly competitive job market, the war for talent has never been more pronounced. Every organization is battling for top talent to help drive their businesses forward. A key factor? Diversity. The benefits of a more diverse workplace are well-known—they’re more productive and profitable.

But when discussing diversity, we leave out an often-forgotten group: neurodivergent talent. Despite growing awareness and research-backed benefits of hiring neurodiverse candidates, many companies still need help to hire neurodiverse talent in tech and engineering.

How do we attract neurodiverse talent, and what are the benefits of growing a neurodivergent workforce for your business? Let’s explore below:

Sourcing and recruiting neurodiverse talent in tech

Sourcing and recruiting neurodiverse talent requires two things: organizations need to change how they think about people with disabilities and a partner who takes a nuanced approach. The one-size-fits-all recruiting style won’t work with neurodiverse candidates.

“Organizations often view people with disabilities negatively and as a burden, focusing on what they cannot do instead of what they can do. The script needs to be flipped.” – Nathan Chung, an award-winning diversity and inclusion advocate

We’ve rounded up a few ways to source and recruit neurodiverse talent in tech and engineering effectively.

1. Don’t make assumptions

Neurodiverse talent has a wealth of skills and abilities, and research shows that they’re often perfectly suited for tech jobs. People with dyslexia who often possess increased visuospatial skills can be great coders, while those with autism have strong programming skills due to the way they think and process information.

Instead of assuming they’ll need extra support, let’s focus on asking all candidates how they can be supported throughout the hiring process. Remember, some candidates may not want or need any accommodations. For those who do, we can build a relationship by first asking them what they need to be comfortable with and supported.

2. Create inclusive job descriptions

Much like gendered language can turn off women considering a role, language like “excellent communication skills” can discourage neurodiverse talent from applying. Job descriptions should explain the role and highlight essential skills for success. They should be concise and use clear language.

Consider the formatting, too. Are you using hard-to-read fonts? Is the font big enough for everyone to read? Focus on using fonts, sizes, and colors that are accessible to everyone so anyone can apply.

3. Rethink the interview process

Traditional hiring processes start with an application, an invitation to an informal call with a recruiter, and then one, or multiple, interviews with the hiring manager, leadership, or the team they’ll be working with. But this creates an opportunity for unconscious bias, especially with neurodiverse talent.

As Forbes points out, these conversations don’t always help recruiters assess someone’s skills. They can, however, create a disadvantage for candidates who communicate differently, can’t express inflection, or struggle with small talk.

Restructuring the recruiting process can help.

  • Offer alternate interview options, like remote or asynchronous
  • Provide interview questions in advance
  • Leave flexibility for a longer interview—some neurodiverse candidates take longer to process information and articulate a response
  • Use a structured hiring process
  • Ask specific, clear questions
  • When conducting an in-person interview, remove distractions like loud noises

4. Reevaluate assessments

Asking candidates to share work samples or do assessment tests instead of traditional phone interviews can also allow them to showcase their skills and skills alone. All task requests and previous sharing should be relevant to the role.

Because candidates (neurodiverse or not) can often struggle with interviews, a task-based assessment is a more accurate predictor of their success in a role. This style of interview allows you to judge candidates based on what matters most: their ability to do the job.

5. Get feedback from candidates and new hires

The best way to get better? Feedback and data. We’re proactive about getting feedback from both neurodiverse candidates and new hires on what they thought of the hiring process. Did they feel it was inclusive? How can we do better?

Their feedback can help identify where we need to do some more work, what’s going well, and any blind spots we may have throughout the hiring process. It’s the best tool for improving recruiting efforts for neurodiverse talent in tech.

Tech and engineering roles for neurodiverse talent

Some common characteristics that make neurodiverse talent perfectly suited for tech include:

  • A strong attention to detail
  • Solid problem-solving skills
  • Logical thinking
  • Spatial reasoning
  • Enhanced creativity
  • Pattern recognition
  • Memory

These skills make neurodiverse employees an exceptional choice for software development roles, data analysis, quality control and assurance, app development, and software testing. The repetition of these roles paired with complex systems and creating order allow neurodiverse employees to pick up the job quickly and excel.

Another reason tech roles are a great option for neurodiverse candidates is because they allow for comfortable work environments for those with ADHD or autism. IT employees typically work remotely, in their own space, with a smaller need for daily social interaction.

Business benefits of hiring neurodiverse talent in tech

Organizations have realized the benefits of working with diverse candidates more than a decade ago. But what many are just now recognizing is the value neurodiverse talent can bring to their company by opening up the talent pool in a continual tight tech labor market: the unemployment rate for neurodivergent adults is eight times the rate for adults without disabilities.

Here are just a few of the reasons why adding neurodiverse talent to your tech or engineering team is important:

  • Research shows that teams with neurodiverse talent can be up to 30% more productive than those without
  • Studies show that autistic consultants find 10% more bugs than non-autistic coworkers when checking code for errors
  • Companies with neurodiverse employees increased overall employee morale and saw a positive impact on company culture
  • A JPMorgan Chase study found that employees in its “Autism at Work” program were 90-140% more productive than neurotypical employees
  • Neurodiverse talent is loyal—companies with autism hiring programs report a 90% retention rate

For example, SAP saved an estimated $40 million because one of its neurodivergent employees developed a technical fix. Needless to say, there are dozens of reasons to hire neurodiverse talent in tech and engineering roles.As you build and adapt your recruiting strategy, include a focus on hiring neurodiverse talent. For help finding neurodiverse talent for your tech and engineering teams, contact us to learn more about how SSI People can help you build a diverse and inclusive team.

As you build and adapt your recruiting strategy, include a focus on hiring neurodiverse talent. For help finding neurodiverse talent for your tech and engineering teams, contact us to learn more about how SSI People can help you build a diverse and inclusive team.

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