Whether you're a high school student or an adult who has worked since before the Industrial Revolution, it's never too early - or too late - to start thinking about your career. And, while it's important to consider what you want from a job, it's just as important to think about the other side of the desk: What do employers look for when hiring?
This article is the first in a series that will explore what employers want, get, and can reasonably expect from employees who may or may not have AD/HD.
Communication is Critical
A survey conducted by Robert Half International in 1998 reported that 96% of the 1,000 largest employers in the U.S. believe employees must have good communication skills to get ahead. RHI is the world's leading specialized staffing service and is the parent company of Accountemps ®, OfficeTeam ® and other services that use professional people to fill temporary positions in the workforce.
Communication skills are sometimes a problem for people who have AD/HD. One way to improve these skills is by spending time practicing with friends or family. Parents can help their children by asking them to explain or to repeat instructions back to them. Even ordinary conversation with friends is great practice for socialization and verbal ability.
Michele Novotni, ADDitude's Social Skills expert, suggest that children practice conversation skills in a very small group first (2-3 people) and gradually expand the size of the group. Children can learn to practice reflective listening skills by asking questions related to what someone was saying.
These same abilities are also important for adults. Novotni notes several problems that are common among adults with AD/HD. These include talking too much, talking too fast, going off track, not paying attention, and impulsively blurting out words that would be much better left unsaid. You can benefit yourself and your career by learning to control these problems. Novotni's book, What Does Everybody Else Know that I Don't? Social skills help for adults with AD/HD , is an excellent resource for learning the social skills that are so important to your career and other areas of your life.
Novotni wrote about communication skills in an article in the June issue of ADDitude magazine. In the article, she offers some tips on communication skills and other survival techniques for a job interview. Many of these same techniques should be continued even after you get the job.
Novotni recommends that when it comes to talking, too little is better than too much. Knowing when to quit is good advice, whether your talking, drinking or eating chocolate.
Learning to look for nonverbal signs that a conversation is over is another important skill. Don't overstay your welcome. If someone says, "I really have to take this call," and you didn't even hear the phone ring, that's a pretty good clue that they don't want to talk any more.
If you lose track of a conversation, or if you are unclear on what has been said, ask for more detail or an explanation. Say "I'm sorry, could you repeat that?" or "Could you please explain that for me?"