Meeting the Employer
Once you have located a potential place for an individual with autism to work, the next step has be the most difficult one because it could mean the difference between whether or not the individual becomes employed: talking with the employer. Not only must you explain to the employer what you do and what the service provider does, but you must also sell the employer on hiring an individual with autism to work for them. Here are some things that might help you in speaking with an employer and also some things to avoid as well.
When speaking with an employer, the first thing is to make sure you are speaking with the person who can make the decision regarding hiring the individual, There is really no point in having a conversation with someone who has nothing to do with the hiring process. A good thing to do is to start from the top, and work your way “down the ladder” until you can speak with the right person. However, you do not want the “higher level” people doing your work for you. Ask for the right person’s contact information, or to leave them your information. Never ask anyone to pass along contact information because the other person may be busy or it could get lost.
Once you have made contact with the right person, make sure they have the time to speak with you in a meeting and not over the phone. Face-to-face meetings make everything more personal. Set up a meeting time that works best for the employer and you. Don’t just work around your schedule, work around both schedules to be sure everyone has enough time. Once a meeting is set up that works for all parties involved, it becomes time to work on what will be said during the meeting. The best thing to do is to start out with one or two sentences about what you do. The main thing to remember is you are not trying to sell yourself to the employer; you are trying to sell the individual. It’s a good idea to avoid sounding like a temp agency; employers are not going to hire someone if they think the person can only work two or three months at a time. I advise using the “K.I.S.S. Method” (Keep Everything Short and Simple), because if you start rambling the employer might get bored and lose interest all together.
It can be useful to encourage the employer to start talking. Ask the employer a question about what they are looking for in an employee, how you could prepare the individual to work at the jobsite, and what they would like the individual to do there. The important thing is to let the manager speak and to listen to them the entire time. Some of the common barriers to job placement for someone with autism is that the employer already works with another agency, that they have preconceived ideas about working with someone with disabilities, or that they are rushed and simply ask you to leave a card or brochure. It can be useful to ask the employer if they have had any experience with someone with a disability or even someone with autism in order to get them focused on what autistic adults have to offer as employees.
If you’ve tried your best to find a placement and it doesn’t work out, just know that there many places out there and keep trying. Don’t assume that one “no” means that the autistic adult isn’t employable. Keep trying—persistence often pays off!