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How to write job postings for neurodivergent candidates

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Compared to the Canadian average, neurodivergent adults have lower employment rates, are more likely to be underemployed, and tend to hold jobs for a shorter amount of time. These employment outcomes affect mental health, well-being and quality of life. 

Improving the quality and accessibility of job postings is one way to reduce employment barriers for neurodivergent people. The wording of job postings influences who applies for a position. In today’s labour market, postings are often biased, leading to both intentional and unintentional discrimination. 

Our recent research revealed accessibility gaps in Canadian job postings that employers can address to make postings more inclusive of neurodivergent job seekers. Of the online job postings published in 2022 that we looked at:

    More than 90% listed at least one required social-emotional skill.

    43% included complex application processes.

    53% contained confusing jargon.

    Only 9% mentioned flexibility, while just 17% mentioned accommodations and 28% mentioned diversity, equity and inclusion.

    There is clearly room for improvement. 

    If employers commit to making job postings more accessible to neurodivergent candidates, there are two positive outcomes to consider. First, job postings would become a higher-quality source of LMI. Second, we could conceivably move toward a future where neurodivergence is embraced as an integral and valued aspect of Canada’s employment landscape. This would improve employment outcomes for Canada’s neurodivergent community.

      In collaboration with auticon Canada, we’ve developed four recommendations for employers to improve job postings and make them more inclusive of neurodivergent job seekers. 


      Be purposeful in your selection of social-emotional skill requirements.

      Employers frequently identify communication, interpersonal, self-management, collaboration and problem-solving skills as the most sought-after skills in the workplace. Integrity and ethical decision making are similarly valued. 

      However, neurodiverse job seekers tell us that—while they expect to see some social-emotional requirements in job postings—too many can be overwhelming, and poor phrasing can be exclusionary.  

      Employers must be purposeful when selecting the social-emotional skills to include in a job posting. Be sure to list only those that are actually required for the position and consider how the language used to describe them can privilege neurotypicality. For example, be mindful of how you describe desired problem-solving, decision-making and time-management skills. Neurodiverse job seekers have these skills, but can be discouraged by an over-emphasis on conventional ways of displaying them. They may have alternative practices to set themselves up for success in a role, and these should not be dismissed.


      Simplify your application process and offer accommodations.

      Application processes can be complex, and many neurodiverse job seekers report having difficulty understanding or completing one or more of the involved steps.  

      For example, job postings that require applicants to input information, create an online profile, upload documents, and follow specific formatting requirements can be overwhelming. 

      Employers should seek out applicant tracking systems and job posting portals that provide a simple, clear application process with a high-quality user experience for candidates.  

      In addition, limit requests for documentation before interviewing candidates. Job postings that require documentation upfront (e.g., references, portfolios, writing samples, supplementary questionnaires, etc.) can be overwhelming, burdensome and time-consuming. This creates a significant barrier for neurodiverse candidates.  

      Finally, employers can both signal and practice their commitment to diversity by highlighting available application accommodations and communicating about tools and supports throughout the recruitment process.


      Use simple and clear language in job postings.

      Jargon, ambiguous language and overly specific phrasing create barriers. They can keep individuals with diverse communication styles and cognitive processing differences from understanding an organization’s expectations and determining whether they are a fit for the position. Evaluate the language in your job postings carefully, checking for opportunities to use plain language.


      Write job postings that reflect your organizational culture.

      Job postings imply a lot about the workplace experience for neurodiverse individuals within an organization. When job postings are written in a tone that reflects the organizational culture and contain information about team dynamics, neurodiverse job seekers can accurately assess whether the environment is one in which they can succeed. Consider your brand identity and desired workplace culture to determine whether a casual, professional or formal tone is best.  

      Similarly, articulating your organization’s specific, actionable commitments to diversity and inclusion is a critical way to showcase how you support neurodiversity in the workplace. 

      Lastly, flexible work arrangements are important to many neurodiverse job seekers. Job postings that explicitly outline options (like remote work or flexible schedules) signal neurodiverse-friendly environments.


      Suzanne Spiteri

      Research Lead

      Dr. Suzanne Spiteri is a sociologist with several years of experience in both qualitative and mixed-methods data analysis. She leads labour-related projects that explore labour market tightness and the labour market outcomes of under-represented groups.

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