May 28, 2005

WrongPlanet.net poster Luther has some valuable advice regarding job-hunt anxiety among people with Asperger's ("Aspies"):


I was unemployable or close to it for many years because I couldn't ask for a job. It's still the hardest thing. I am always convinced that the new work environment will match my worst nightmare, and some of them have. My experience is in two-bit disposable jobs because I can't go near the corporate environment without breaking into hives.

It has been helpful but not easy for me to learn some of these things from experience:

There are people who will hire you because they like you, without looking at your resume or calling your references. Your personal presentation is more important than what's on your resume.

A letter of reference from a former employer is worth its weight in gold.

Eye contact might hurt, burn, and sting, but force yourself to do it.

Also, force yourself to keep talking, and calling back at least once a week. Ignore the inner voice that says you are bothering someone by being aggressive.

And force yourself to describe your good points. Talk about what you're good at. Even if it sounds stupid and goes totally against your grain.

Smile and say you want the job in the worst way. Act excited, animated, and enthusiastic even if it's just an act. Aspie traits are easy to mistake for dullness.

Watch Napoleon Dynamite. Find humor in your dilemma.

If you're passing by a place and think, "I could enjoy working there," grab the opportunity to stroll in while you're feeling relaxed and confident, introduce yourself and proclaim that you sure would like a job.

Pretend to yourself that it's no big deal; try to get into a relaxed, confident headspace.

Don't start your spiel till you are talking to the hiring manager. The others can be considered the discouragement fraternity and will misrepresent your interests or even discard your application, or just tell the boss you're weird.

I am no expert, but I've gotten lots of jobs, mostly against my own wishes, but I have to eat. Obviously I only kept one--the one I have right now.

Based on my experience I doubt that I will ever be able to keep a job permanently. I do not tell an employer that. I always lie and say I want the job for at least two or three years.

I just learned I am an aspie, before that I had other less plausible explanations for my so-called life. I am thinking seriously about telling my next potential employer that I am autistic. I think it would help, and maybe screen out intolerant bosses from hiring me just so they'll have someone to persecute.

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