What companies are good about neurodiversity in hiring? (20+ years untreated.)

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    • #103577

      My AD/HD went untreated until 22 years after I entered the workforce after graduating college. Because of AD/HD and other mental health issues, my career for most of that time involved a lot of not just job hopping but career hopping. I was burned out in software and wanted to do social services…. no, wait, entry level social service jobs suck, so back to software… maybe apply to MBA programs…. no, wait, something else. So my tech career went in a death spiral. At some jobs I performed well and just ran into a tough economy and layoffs; at others, frankly my performance wasn’t good.

      Recently I’ve gotten a PhD and want to move back to industry. I’m having a really hard time getting interviews, and I’m almost sure it’s because my scattershot work history on my résumé is a badge of shame. In my wildest dreams, there would be companies so committed to disability hiring that they’d consider that I was struggling with an untreated condition that’s now being treated. For example, Microsoft is very proud of their disability hiring practices.

      But in truth I doubt it’s that easy. AD/HD is completely misunderstood of course and, with no disrespect intended to those who deal with it, autism appears to be the “hot thing” in disability hiring for companies to show how socially conscious they are. For them to look more favorably on 16 years of my career with only modest accomplishments seems like an awfully ambitious thing to ask.

      If you’ll indulge my immodesty, I know I’m cognitively in the same league as the vast majority of folks who succeed at Microsoft, Google, Amazon, or anywhere else. There’s just so much human capital that I waste every day (and I’m trying to learn not to feel guilty about). I’m hopeful that some companies will put their money where there mouth is regarding AD/HD but more likely I suspect a long-term campaign of advocacy and network building (so I can talk to the decision makers) will be needed. And I’m excited about that! (But I still need to pay the bills.)

      Any thoughts? Should I disclose in my cover letters? Leads on companies? What about companies with no formal disability hiring policies?

    • #104272

      I know how hard it can be to have a successful career when you have ADHD. I have been working since the age of 14 and in the last 18 years I’ve only had 4 months of unemployment. Unfortunately one period is my most recent, I was terminated from a former job for “performance issues” but I think it had more to do with the office environment. My boss at the time wasn’t supportive in the least and became quickly annoyed with me asking questions.

      This was before my diagnosis. At my most recent employer I let my boss know during my 2nd interview that I have ADHD which leads to struggles with time management and remembering all the requirements of tasks I’m not familiar with. She said she was okay with this and I got the job. However, once I started I immediately began to struggle, with remembering every step to different tasks. Despite mentioning the importance of being allowed 10-15 minutes to organize my notes/to-dos before starting work I was never given the time. The team lead would constantly make conflicting statements. One minute I would be told “X” was our top priority then 20 minutes later she would ask what I was working on to which I’d reply “X” then she would get angry telling me I should be working on “Y” and that “Y” was the top priority.

      It made me feel like an idiot & I could never do anything right. Frequently I brought up the fact that I struggled with multitasking due to my ADHD but this was ignored. Weekly I would have check-ins with my boss and every week I told her the same thing that I was really struggling with multitasking (I was expected to respond to emails in our team inbox, emails in my individual inbox, as well as answering the phone where I would receive similar urgent requests as I was being emailed). I told my boss if I could focus on a single item I shouldn’t have issues but trying to do all three simultaneously was too difficult for me to handle. She said it was a good idea but once we had a team meeting the suggestion was brought up and she didn’t back me up when the other team members struck the idea down.

      Another key issue for me was daily attendance. Initially I was told that the attendance policy was not strict when it came to start times and if I’m running a few minutes late it won’t be a big deal. There were three separate occasions where I was very late (45-60 mins). This lead to my boss changing my start time to 15 minutes earlier than my original start time. After I told her the reason for my struggle is a sleeping condition (circadian rhythmic disorder) which leads to me typically not falling asleep before 2am or 3am most nights. Despite the warnings I was still unintentionally late most days (7-15 mins). Then to my surprise I was terminated a little over a week ago.

      The reason I’m sharing this is I needed to vent and to show with some employers no matter how forthcoming you are about your disability you can still be discriminated against. My advice is don’t include this information in a cover letter. Even though ADHD is a legitimate disability many still look at it as an excuse for trying to get out of things. I would mention it in the interview or when starting and if you need an accommodation to successfully do your job let them know what is needed but be sure to document all instances where you’ve requested assistance.

      The good news is all U.S. jobs at a company with 15 or more employees are required to comply with the ADA (American Disability Act) regardless of whether or not they have a policy in place or not. I wish you the best of luck in your search and don’t forget you are not alone.

      • This reply was modified 3 years ago by sweetnthngs87. Reason: Rewording
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