Searching for jobs during COVID-19
During the coronavirus pandemic, searching for jobs has changed a lot as recruiters and companies shift towards online methods of communication, and there is more focus on online testing such as verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning, and judgement tests. There has been a sharp increase in competition for vacancies due to redundancies from various sectors such as retail and travel. This has led me to discover new ways to do my job search, from using LinkedIn to build connections or using apps such as Debut to find new opportunities for jobs and volunteering alike.
From my personal experience, I have found the job searching process a bit more challenging as the landscape for applying for a job and pre-interviews have changed considerably to accommodate for changes within social distancing and remote working options. In this blog, I will be focusing on three fundamental changes that have happened to the job searching process since Coronavirus and how recruiters can make these easier for autistic candidates. I will be discussing my experience with LinkedIn and provide advice to help other candidates.
It has been reiterated time after time that networking is very important. However, for many autistic candidates, this might be difficult due to a lack of contact or knowledge about how to approach a connection online. This can lead to difficulties in job hunting as many people don’t know who to contact and how to reach them, due to many job fairs and recruitment opportunities being shifted online. This has led to very standardised ways of interacting with people who may not be friendly towards autistic candidates. I think an attempt should be made to create better networking links and support systems within this process as this can help autistic candidates create contacts which they may be able to use within a job search or when looking out for volunteering opportunities to build their experience during this time.
It is becoming more and more apparent that recruiters are using online tests after the initial application to filter out job applicants. I do understand this can be used to create a time-efficient process from the recruiter side. However, depending on their characteristics, many autistic candidates such as myself rely on other cues to help them during such tests - such as context or meaning - and this has led to many people failing the tests.
Additionally, there is a lack of support from the recruiter side about how to do these tests or to provide an option for an alternative test that can accommodate the candidate’s condition. I note that in some companies and sector such as the Civil Service they do accommodations for candidates with ASD – providing extra time or an interpreter who might be able to put the right context to the questions. However, many companies do not offer this level of support which means that autistic candidates may or may not judge the questions correctly.
The nature of interviews has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, as more interviewers begin to shift towards digital means of interviewing. For example, a couple of interviews which I have done have been pre-recorded interviews which means that I have to record myself answering a question either about myself or answering scenario-based questions which ask more about my strengths and how I may approach a task.
For autistic candidates, there is usually a disadvantage with pre-recorded interviews especially to do with eye contact. Also, the fact that some of the questions are worded in such a way that may be subjective means that some candidates may not answer the question clearly. They may rely on different queues and context to answer the questions.
Another way that recruiters can save time or possibly find new ways of recruiting is by doing group interviews online. In general, I feel that this can be difficult for autistic candidates as it does require patience and the right level of rapport with the interviewer. Sometimes, it can be difficult when to start and stop the question, especially when there is a limited amount of time for all candidates. Additionally, employers may not tell the candidate on how large the groups will be online, this is also difficult for an autistic candidate to create space for their answers when other candidates may have taken the allocated time.
My experience of using LinkedIn
LinkedIn has been a great tool to look out for new connections and job opportunities from existing contacts and new contacts. A tip which I highly recommend is looking out for virtual job fairs on LinkedIn as well as other social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter. Virtual fairs are a good starting point which can help you access different professionals who may able to provide some information on current opportunities within their company or their network. The nature of job seeking has shifted from something which I’d usually do on my laptop to using apps on my phone, as there are many job listings and volunteering opportunities available through the LinkedIn app which I can access on the go.
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