Ensure Neurodiversity is a Key Pillar in Your Graduate Hiring Strategy in 2024

Posted by Samantha Nuttall

There is growing evidence that organisations making the effort to recruit, retain, and nurture neurodivergent workers gain a competitive edge from increased diversity in skills, ways of thinking, and new approaches to problem-solving. Despite this, employment of Neurodivergent graduates and graduates with a Disability remains alarmingly low in Australia; with only 3% of candidates surveyed in the AAGE 2023 Candidate Survey (Candidates who secured a graduate role) identifying as a person with Disability.    

At the same time, 77% of Graduate Employers reported that they did not fill all available Graduate positions, and 53% of Employers stating that achieving Diversity targets were a key challenge in 2023 (AAGE Employer Feedback Survey 2023) due to a perceived “shortage of talent”.  

Given that Neurodivergent candidates will make up to 15% of the Graduate Talent pool, one strategy any smart organisation should consider to partly address this talent gap is maximising the attraction, recruitment and retention of Neurodivergent candidates.  

What is Neurodiversity and Neurodivergence? 

Neurodiversity simply means all humans have different brains and ways of thinking. Everyone in your organisation is Neurodiverse and some employees are likely to also be Neurodivergent. People who are Neurodivergent have physical differences in their brains that differ more significantly than the ‘average’. People who are Autistic, ADHD, have one of the four learning disorders such as Dyslexia etc and other conditions are all Neurodivergent.  Whilst barriers in the Neurotypical work environment can present challenges to Neurodivergent people, their unique strengths and talents also deliver huge benefits.  

Recruiting Neurodivergent graduates does not mean you need to design a separate program or set aside particular roles. Graduate Recruiters can create an inclusive recruitment process that attracts, identifies, and secures Neurodivergent talent alongside their Neurotypical peers in cost effective ways.  

Let’s consider some ways to do this in your standard process.  

1. Increase your understanding and accept the need to change: 

  • Expectation = Preparation: Be proactive. 15% of your candidates think and perceive the world differently. Ensure your recruitment team, managers and leaders understand the benefits of a Neurodiverse workforce and plan how to be inclusive.  
  • Train your Decision makers: Ensure Recruitment Training reduces bias and leaders are committed to running an inclusive process for all candidates.   

2. Attract and Measure Neurodiversity 

  • Signal safety in your Marketing: Encourage Neurodivergent candidates to apply by profiling neurodivergent employees in your Graduate Recruitment collateral. Showcase their contribution and emphasise how diverse perspectives benefit the organisation. 
  • Data is Power: Include an appropriately worded diversity question about Neurodiversity in your Application so you can track the success of candidates. Identify areas where the process fails to be objective and make changes. Ask for feedback, even from rejected candidates.  

3. Enhance your Recruitment Processes 

Traditional recruitment processes exclude Neurodivergent candidates as they assume Neurotypical is the gold standard. The following ideas will ensure your process is fit for purpose.  

  • Focus on Strengths: Focus on identifying candidates’ strengths and consider how you might make use of these by “Job crafting”. Neurodivergent graduates have ‘spiky’ skills profiles.  They will perform far better than Neurotypical candidates in specific areas, such as attention to detail, pattern recognition, innovation and problem-solving. By removing areas of challenge, you can maximise performance to deliver increased value in your organisation.  
  • Question Assessment functionality: Many elements of a traditional recruitment process better assess the candidate’s ability to undertake a recruitment process than actual job competencies (e.g. verbal based interviews and psychometric assessments). Explore alternatives such as practical task assessments as more effective ways of assessing skills.  
  • Normalise Adjustments: Ask all candidates at every stage of the interview process if they require an adjustment to demonstrate capability on an equitable basis with others. Ensure all staff that process can confidently discuss and provide adjustments to ensure Neurodivergent candidates feel welcome and can perform at their best.  

4. Create an Inclusive Graduate Program 

  • Workplace Adjustments: Ensure all employees can request and are provided Workplace Adjustments when they commence. Most adjustments requested by Neurodivergent employees are of low or zero cost to an Employer such as flexible working, changes to communication patterns etc.  
  • Neurodivergent Coaching support: Provide Neurodivergent employees with Neurodivergent specific Coaching that enables them to harness and develop their skills in sustainable ways. This helps prevent performance issues that could arise due to a lack of internal knowledge and support.  
  • Provide specific Neuro-inclusion Training for Managers: Ensure Managers have access to training that empowers them to manage Neurodiverse teams with confidence and enables them to nurture and develop all employees.  

By embracing neurodiversity, Graduate Recruiters can not only attract exceptional talent that adds value to the organisation but also recruit from the entire Graduate Talent pool to increase the likelihood that all Graduates roles will be filled. Remember that small adjustments in recruitment processes and creating an inclusive graduate program can lead to significant positive outcomes for individuals and for your organisation. 


About The Author

An ex-Graduate Recruiter and program manager, Samantha Nuttall, founder of ‘The Neurodivergent Coach’ is on a mission to increase the employment of Neurodivergent people globally. To talk to her further about how she can help your organisation recruit and hire more Neurodivergent Graduates through your Graduate program OR how she can support your Neurodivergent employees to flourish at work, contact her:


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