Admin Sep 21, 2022 5:38:40 PM 8 min read

Neurodivergent New Starters

Neurodivergent New Starters: The Importance of the Right Environment, and How to Find It

Starting a new job in a completely new industry can be a challenge. When you're neurodivergent, it can feel catastrophic.

Here’s my story on why a good environment is so important – and five tips to find the right one for you.

I was diagnosed with ADHD around two years ago now. It was a bittersweet feeling.

On the whole, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief - my struggles felt validated, and I knew it was the start of a journey that would help me take my day-to-day life off of ‘hard mode’.

I also felt frustrated and resentful - because I now knew that my life up until that point was so much harder than it needed to be.

I struggled profusely at school. The "one size fits all" approach didn't fit me. If I didn't take to something quickly, it was over. I had trouble making and keeping friends due to the fact I couldn't understand many of those around me, and took any negativity deeply personally (and we all know how cruel kids can be).

Masking started to become an innate habit - into college, university and beyond, I became a chronic people pleaser. I would minimise my needs, compromise my boundaries, and push myself into burnout - for the sake of impressing those around me.

I would exhaust myself in workplaces that had already left me feeling unappreciated.

Due to the stigmatisation of neurodivergence, for a long time, I didn’t so much as consider that it could be me. At the time of growing up, when I thought of ADHD, I thought of the class clown who was always getting into trouble. The overall perception of cognitive disorders such as this is slowly improving – but we’re not there yet. We must remind ourselves that these sorts of generalisations are harmful, and has already led to an epidemic of undiagnosed and late-diagnosed individuals.

Now diagnosed, I was nervous to transition from Hospitality to a 9-5.

I joined Talent Point largely due to their value in a positive, supportive culture and investment in Learning & Development. The interviews had gone well. I loved speaking with every person I’d interacted with along the way. I was excited by my offer, and felt great about the company and the job – but at this stage, nothing could prevent the inevitable imposter syndrome.

I was already preparing myself to feel like I was back in school.

At GCSE, I failed Science. I barely scraped a pass in Maths. I had no experience in the tech space, and struggled to get my head around even its simpler concepts. I always gravitated towards creative subjects in the past, so had told myself I didn’t have the “right brain” for it.

During the onboarding process, upon declaring my ADHD, I had to stop myself from over-explaining. My future colleagues were in frequent contact, telling me they were eager for my start – but my own self-doubt and past experiences left me terrified of a retracted offer.

The path to finding the right workplace isn’t easy – it was a rollercoaster for me to get to this point. But, I’ve also learnt a few things along the way that I wanted to share on how to assess the right employer for you.

  1. Be mindful of how your potential/new employers communicate – do they keep you in the loop? Do they speak positively about others? Do they use dismissive or derogatory language?
  2. Be conscious of what the job’s selling points are. Does it feel like they truly value those who work there? Are the selling points appealing to you?
  3. Pay attention to how they treat your time – are they punctual? Are they mindful of your schedule? Do they allow ample time for you to ask questions?
  4. Consider if you feel truly listened to throughout the process. Can you see yourself being honest when you’re having a tough day?
  5. Finally - be easy on yourself. Identify and uphold your needs and boundaries. The process of seeking and starting a new job is overwhelming.

There’s been moments, despite plentiful support, that I felt lost and upset. Things that seem easy for others can be harder for neurodivergent people. Two months on, I feel happy, fulfilled and appreciated at Talent Point. I’m even giving presentations on complex markets and roles that sit within the world of tech – which is worlds away from anything I’d expected to be doing.

This isn’t to say my struggles are gone. When your brain is wired that bit differently - whether or not you're diagnosed, treated, or medicated – it will always be a part of you in some way.

The crucial difference is that I am able to be transparent about these struggles – and have support when I need it. When I don’t understand something, there are always people who will talk me through it with eagerness. I’m trusted to work with autonomy. Personal boundaries and a work/life balance is actively encouraged.

Despite the hardships it comes with, there are many things my ADHD bring to me and my life that I value. It’s part of what makes me so excitable and passionate. I’m thankful to have my brain wired this way!

By Amber McAuley

Need to know: Interviewing for success.

Applicants are influenced by many factors. Some you can't control, such as location. Others you can, such as an interview.

At Talent Point, we’ve helped over 100 innovative brands successfully scale their teams. In doing so, we’ve developed an approach to interviewing that supports quick and sustainable hiring. We call it 'Interviewing for success'.

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Interviewing for success is not about hiring every applicant. It's about creating skilled interviewers who enable every applicant they meet to give the truest representation of their personality and ability. When applied consistently against the same criteria, it results in fair and measurable interviews with the bonus of positive applicant experiences.