This blog is part two of Transitions’ series on Qualities Employers Look for in Job Candidates. Every person has something great to offer a workplace, including young people with autism and learning disabilities. There are certain universal qualities that all top employees possess, regardless of their industry or job level. This series will present a few of those qualities and the ways in which you as a parent, teacher or service provider can help teach them to the young adult in your life with autism or other learning disabilities.
This week’s installment focuses on a trait any person can have and use to their advantage, regardless of a diagnosis of autism or learning disability: ambition.
Not all job candidates will have top-notch skills or experience, but never underestimate the power of having an attitude of being driven to succeed and flourish at work. A candidate’s enthusiasm for the job and desire to make it their career, not just a means to a paycheck, can go a long way. One Transitions student, for example, was hired at a human resources department despite having never worked in the field before simply on the basis of the enthusiasm and professionalism he displayed throughout a semester-long internship.
Employers want employees who are eager to learn and grow with them, and your young adult can demonstrate this through:
- Setting and achieving concrete career goals – this proves that one is capable of planning, looking into the future and working hard.
- Establishing determination to rise to certain positions or career fields – this proves that one intends to stick around and is willing to learn and improve, rather than stagnating on their skillset.
- Demonstrating passion for their work – employers want people who care about the work they do, rather than those who do the minimum to get by.
- Saying “yes” to new opportunities when they arise – this proves that one is willing to help out in any way they can and demonstrates a desire to grow, learn and broaden horizons.
How You Can Help:
- Work with the young adult to help them set goals, work toward them and identify their passions and ambitions for the future.
- Encourage good work values in the person, such as positive attitude and good work ethic.
- Help the young adult honestly assess their strengths, weaknesses and interests so they can apply for jobs they will like and succeed in.
- Set consistent rules and high expectations for the young adult. Make them responsible for arriving on time for their commitments, dressing presentably and following through with tasks they are supposed to complete.
- Research potential employers ahead of time and keep lines of communication open early in the employment process to make sure the person is working at sites that are accommodating, understanding and willing to work with them to ensure mutual success.
No one expects a person new to the workforce to have vast experience or advanced skills. Ambition, however, can set an inexperienced candidate apart as someone with great potential, rather than someone with few qualifications. For more information about Transitions and how its programs help young adults with autism and learning disabilities identify what they want from life, set goals and grow into ambitious young adults, contact us at (518) 775-5384.
About the Author:
Gina Warsaw teaches Career Success courses at Transitions, which cover professional presentation, preparing resumes and cover letters, job searching, basic job skills, interacting professionally in the workplace and more. She has almost 30 years of experience supporting people with disabilities to reach their life goals, including more than 10 years focused on helping people transition into integrated community employment opportunities. Gina is currently the Director of Day Supports at The Arc Lexington.