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How a Teenager’s Viral Post Points to a Huge Hiring Opportunity

Source | | Laura Hilgers

At the beginning of March, Ryan Lowry, a 19-year-old in Leesburg, Virginia, posted a hand-written letter on LinkedIn with a simple message: Hire Me. 

Ryan wrote the note to future employers, explaining that “you will have to take a chance on me,” because, even though he’s “gifted at math, really good with technology and a really quick learner,” Ryan is autistic.

LinkedIn post from Ryan Lowry (Student at Independence High School) with 174,000+ reactions and 5,700+ comments.  Post reads: “Please see my letter to future employers.” and includes screenshot of handwritten letter:  February, 27, 2021  Dear Future Employer,  My name is Ryan Lowry, I am 19 years old, live in Leesburg, Virginia, and I have autism. I also have a unique sense of humor, am gifted at math, really good with technology, and a really quick learner.  I am interested in a job in animation, or in IT. I realize that someone like you will have to take a chance on me, I don’t learn like typical people do. I would need a mentor to teach me, but I learn quickly, once you explain it, I get it. I promise that if you hire me and teach me, you’ll be glad that you did. I will show up every day, do what you tell me to do, and work really hard.  Please let me know if you would like to talk about this with me. Thank you.  Sincerely,  Ryan Lowry

Ryan is right to be worried about his employment prospects. According to the advocacy organization Autism Speaksnearly half of 25-year-olds with autism have never held a paying job.

For companies striving to create a more inclusive workforce, people like Ryan create a rich opportunity. There is a huge pool of highly qualified talent waiting to be tapped among candidates with neurodivergencies such as dyslexia, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), ADHD, and Tourette syndrome. And because these candidates bring a fresh perspective to companies, they can sometimes drive innovation simply because they view the world differently. 

How can you tap into this talent pool? Check out our six tips for recruiting and hiring a more neurodiverse workforce. 

1. Rewrite job descriptions to make them more inclusive

When you’re writing a job description, think about what skills an employee really needs to perform the role effectively. If you’re looking for a software engineer, for example, an ideal candidate should be able to analyze the needs of the user, as well as design, test, and develop software. But when you include requirements such as “excellent at communicating” or “highly organized,” you may be using language that excludes neurodivergent candidates. People with ASD often struggle with social interactions, so communication may not be their strong suit. Trim your job descriptions wherever possible to include only those skills that are essential to the position. 

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