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Am I Neurodivergent? Navigating the Job Search When You’re Neurodivergent

The job search is stressful by nature – designed for potential employers to evaluate your performance under pressure. For neurodivergent candidates (including but not limited to those who are autistic, experience debilitating anxiety, or who have speech or movement disorders like apraxia or Tourette’s), these challenges may seem especially insurmountable and lead to higher stress levels and burnout.

Here’s how Pathrise can help:

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Role Exploration:

The key to finding a job you’ll enjoy is figuring out where your strengths and needs lie. From Mindset Coaches who can help you visualize your dream job to Job Search Strategists and Industry Specialists who can help you identify which roles might be the best fit based on your experience and passions, the Pathrise support network is here to support you in finding a fulfilling career.

Make a list of your needs or non-negotiables in a job. If working remotely is isolating for you, maybe you would thrive in a hybrid or onsite role. If you find verbal communication and public speaking challenging, maybe you should look for a job where most of your communication can be written. If you are open to sharing with your potential employer that you are neurodivergent, it might be important to look for companies that already have hiring initiatives or support for neurodiverse candidates.

You’ll also want to explore your wants. These may not be deal-breakers, but they will help you determine what sort of culture and environment you should focus on. For example, if you want to have your hands in as many projects and processes as possible, you may benefit from focusing on start-ups where you can get involved in Employee Resource Groups or grow in the company through cross-training.

Managing the Job Search:

Not all neurodivergent job seekers struggle with executive dysfunction, but for many, staying organized and managing their time is a challenge. As you start applying to roles, it’s vital that you have a system in place to keep track of your applications and outreach. Our Pipeline provides a user-friendly resource for organizing your efforts in one spot so you can see your applications, interviews, and offers. Your Career Mentor is here to help – you can ask them for advice, allow them to hold you accountable with agendas or task setting, and let them guide you to the right specialist or neurodiversity advocates as needed.

Most people don’t enjoy applying for jobs, especially when the process is time consuming. If you struggle with time management or procrastination, try one of the following tips to hold yourself accountable and gain traction:

Stairway to Success – Rate the tasks you have to complete in order of most enjoyable to least enjoyable. Start with a preferred activity to gain momentum, and then do a neutral activity before moving on to a less-preferred task. Once you complete the least-preferred item, give yourself a reward (a short break, a piece of chocolate, listening to a favorite song, etc.) and then go from least-to-most preferred.

Visual Schedule – Setting a timer lets you count down the minutes until your task should be done, so you know how much time you have left to work on your goal. Use a visual timer as a reminder to stay productive, and when time runs out, let yourself do something else for a little while.

Brain BreaksAfter hyperfocusing on your work or sitting still for too long, you might find yourself feeling burnt out. Schedule yourself Brain Breaks to get up, stretch, do breathing exercises, or go on a quick walk. You’ll come back feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of your job search.

Interviews and Offers:

Some neurodiverse job seekers thrive on routine, so the interview process with all its twists and turns can be especially rattling. It helps to know what to expect and how to succeed.

Your Career Mentor can guide you through the process so you can anticipate what you’ll be doing at each step of the interview process and learn to interview the company back.

Our Recruiting Specialists can help you prepare for cultural-fit questions like “tell me about yourself” and “why do you want to work here?” that will determine how you’ll mesh with their company.

Industry Mentors can help you prepare for technical questions like “tell me about a time…” using formulas such as the STAR method. They can also practice case studies and roleplaying assignments with you so you’re set up to succeed. Mindset Coaches are great for managing job search stress and making sure any feelings of rejection or defeat don’t bleed into your interview performance. They can help you project the best version of yourself in an interview.

Once you have an offer, we can help you negotiate details like title and salary so there are no surprises once you start your new job.

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How Do I Get Started?

Pathrise is a career accelerator that is designed to expedite your job search and make it more efficient by helping you find the right roles to apply to, optimizing your job search, and providing the support of dozens of specialists who care about your success. If you’re struggling, you’re not alone – we’ve helped over 2000 fellows find their dream job, and we can’t wait to help you.

Apply today.

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Alex MacPherson

Hi I'm Alex! Since graduating from UC Berkeley in 2019, I have worked on the growth team for Pathrise helping job seekers hone their skills to land their dream role through curated content on interview prep, resume building and more.

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