How overwhelm impacts employment prospects when you're autistic

Written in January 2024

Last night the Autistic Radio team made a recording for Neurodiversity Celebration Week* based on the six conversation starters resource. One of the prompts was about the recruitment process and my colleague Harry mentioned that one of the reasons he finds the application process hard is because each application stands alone as a single task – the idea of having multiple applications out there is anxiety inducing and stressful.


Rather than doing the expected thing of applying for multiple jobs each day, he'll apply for one and wait for the outcome of that application before applying for another. I can completely understand this as I have the same concern. The prospect of several job applications being out “there” with the attendant worry of being able to cope with scheduling multiple interviews, and how to make the decision between two jobs I might be offered (always with the positive thinking!) is quite frightening.

I'm having the same issue at the moment making cold approaches to companies to sell my neurodiversity training. It doesn't come easily to me so the thought of buying the email list of training managers and sending 300 emails in bulk is terrifying. That's potentially a lot of replies to manage.


I know what people would tell me – that not all of those people are going to reply, most won't even read my email, and you've got to put lots out there to get even a small response back. Intellectually I know this is probably true. Equally, I know from the experience of looking for associate work last year that 10 is the maximum number I can cope with sending out. That activity garnered around an 80% response rate and that was plenty for me to process and respond to.


This morning I sent six emails to local businesses. The emails are a conversation starter in themselves and because I take a personal approach to this stuff I would be surprised if I don't get any responses, even declines. I could send four more, but my brain says no, it says “what if half those people want to schedule a call with you? How are you going to find capacity to cope with more?”.


If there's one major thing I have learned about my neurodivergence over the last year, it's that I need to listen to what my brain tells me. It's the same as my gut, in terms of intuition. I can only ask of my brain what it is willing and able to give, and if it says six is enough for this week, I'll listen.

Maybe next week I'll send ten?


*The podcast addressing the conversation starters for Neurodiversity Celebration Week (18 – 24 March) will be available shortly before the event.

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