Getting ready to look for a job

Information to assist jobseekers to get ready for a job, includes how to use your strengths and skills, setting goals and what to do about work experience.

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Getting to know your strengths and skills

As an adult on the autism spectrum, you have strengths and abilities that employers are just beginning to understand and actively seek out.   

However, the first step for finding a job is to ensure that you know your interests and strengths. You need to be confident in acknowledging and showing your strengths and achievements to an employer.

This is hard for a lot of people to do. We hope this template will help you identify your strengths and find a job that is the right fit for you.  

The strengths and skills template 

Assessing your work preferences and support needs

The aim of the Individual Work Preference Assessment (IWPA) is for employment consultants to gain insight into your individual work preferences, strengths and working styles. The IWPA is a confidential document between the employment consultant and yourself. The IWPA will assist your employment consultant in developing a separate work profile document to describe your needs and preferences within a work environment.

There are two copies of the IWPA: a longer version and a short version. There is no right or wrong form to complete. If you are having any difficulty completing the longer form, we suggest you complete the shorter version.

The process for completing either version of the IWPA is a way for an employment consultant to start getting to know you. Your employment consultant may talk about your responses with you to get a better understanding of your workplace needs.   

PLEASE NOTE:

  • If there is any stress, discomfort or anxiety relating to the completion of either IWPA form it does not need to be completed.
  • If you don’t know how to respond to a question you can skip it. It does not matter if you don’t answer every question.
  • You can ask someone you trust to help you complete the form.

Try the jobs outlook quiz

The Australian Government made this Career Quiz to help jobseekers. The quiz will help you to understand your interests and work style. It will also tell you about some jobs that you might like based on your interests and work style.  

The quiz asks questions about which activities and tasks you like most. It does not ask if you have the necessary skills and qualifications to do a job, only what you like to do. This can help you to understand your work styles. You can learn more about your own work styles after completing the survey before you research possible careers. 

What did you find out? 

Take some time to reflect on the results you got from strengths and skills template and from the jobs outlook quiz.  

Write down some of your key takeaways. 

  • What interested you?  
  • What surprised you?  

It is okay if you do not agree with some of the results you get – in fact, write about it!   

Setting goals

Setting goals is essential when you are exploring your career options.  

When you set achievable, realistic goals, you give yourself something to aim for. You also develop a better understanding of how to get there. 

Goals can be big or small. You can have one goal or many goals.  

SMART goals 

One way to set goals is to use SMART goals. SMART stands for  

  • Specific 
  • Measurable 
  • Achievable 
  • Realistic 
  • Timed 

An example of a SMART goal:

Isabel wants to apply for two marketing roles in the next month. This is a SMART goal.  

It is specific because Isabel has decided to apply for marketing roles, not roles in general. 

It is measurable because Isabel knows the number of jobs she wants to apply for (two). 

It is achievable and realistic because Isabel knows she has the skills and interests that make it likely someone will hire her for a marketing role. 

It is timed because Isabel has given herself one month to meet her goal. That gives her about two weeks for each application. 

Isabel has already created a sample resume, which she can adapt to each role. This will save her some time. 

Try creating a SMART goal for yourself! 

As you progress through your career search, you can go back to your SMART goal and check-in on your progress towards accomplishing your goal.  

As you complete your SMART goals, you can also set new ones. 

Disclosure

Think about disclosure at all stages, even before an interview.  

No-one can make you disclose your diagnosis of autism to any job interviewer. Even if they ask, you don’t have to tell them. 

Whether you disclose or not is your personal choice. However, you might want to highlight some of the advantages autistic minds have over neurotypical (non-autistic) minds. 

For example, you could say that you have the ability to focus on specific tasks better than most people, which makes you more productive. You could say that doing repetitive tasks doesn’t bother you at all, no matter how often you do them. Whatever it is, you can find an advantage that autism has for you and spin it into a benefit for the company.   

Questions you might have

What do I do if I have a gap in my employment history?  

It is very important to be honest in what you tell potential employers. You should be honest both in your resumé and in interviews. 

If you have a gap in your employment history, you should have an explanation ready in case an employer asks about it.  

Be truthful, but focus on any strengths and skills that you developed during your time away from employment. Here are some things you might have been doing that you could talk about: 

  • You were focused on studying 
  • You were working on self-development activities 
  • You were traveling 
  • You were doing volunteer work 

You might want to include this information in your profile section, but that is optional.  

What do I do if I have no formal work experience?  

If this is you, don’t worry! Many young adults and recent graduates don’t have very much formal work experience, and some have none.  

Having experience is one way to show your skills and abilities, but it is not the only way.  

Roles vary from company to company. After you have been hired you will have to learn on the job.  

Employers are looking for employees that have the foundation to do the work. This foundation can come from experiences outside of the workplace. If you don’t have formal work experience, you can highlight things you have done that have provided you with what are called ‘transferable skills’.  

Examples of transferable skills include:  

  • Projects 
  • Lab work 
  • Volunteer work  
  • Being part of clubs and organisations 
  • Unpaid work experience 
  • Leadership roles 

This is not a complete list, but it’s a good place to start thinking about what you have done and how that can be of value to an organisation.  

When you write down information about your involvement, responsibilities and achievements in activities like the ones on this list, write the same way you would if you were writing about work experience.   

What if my work experience is unrelated to the role I am applying for?  

If you have work experience but it isn’t related to the job you are applying for, it might help to write your resume in a different way. 

Think about what you have done, what you want to do next, and how you can connect the two. Doing this could give you a great sentence or two to include in your profile statement.  

It’s also a good idea to show that you are taking steps towards your new career goals. For example, if you are currently an accountant and you are interested in becoming a graphic designer, write down the things you have done to improve your graphic design skills.     

Training resources

Benefits of working

Understanding yourself and looking after yourself