Tearing up the recruitment rulebook and embracing neurodivergence in the workplace
When Chris Thomas became CEO of an IT services and telecommunications company at age 21, his thoroughly modern approach to transforming the business immediately turned heads – earning himself a coveted place on the shortlist of The Institute of Directors' ‘Young Director of the Year’ awards. Two years into the role, the Edinburgh-based entrepreneur is continuing to tear up the rulebook, this time by turning his attention to the recruitment process, and he hopes other businesses will follow suit.
Chris’ ultimate aim is to create a welcoming, supportive, and inclusive working environment for all at incovo. Despite the fact that an estimated 15% of people in the UK are neurodivergent, Chris believes their needs as individuals have historically been overlooked in the job application process, to the detriment of businesses everywhere. He is therefore calling on businesses to ditch the outdated CVs and formal interview process, in favour of a more progressive and accessible approach.
Applying for a job can be a highly intimidating process, causing stress and anxiety for many candidates, particularly the neurodivergent. As a result, the way a person writes their CV, fills in an application form, or performs in an interview or test can leave the employer with an inaccurate or unfairly negative impression of the individual’s skills set.
For this reason, Chris advocates an alternative approach. He says: "For every position we advertise, we encourage each candidate to apply via whatever platform they feel most comfortable – an email, a chat on the phone, or a LinkedIn direct message, for example. From there, we come to a mutual decision on how best to take things forward – whether it be a task for the candidate to complete at home or an informal chat over a coffee. The key is that the candidate feels relaxed. That way we can get to know the real person and make an informed decision about how they will perform in the role."
It’s a flexible approach that takes the needs of each individual into account. For some employers, this may sound like a more complicated and time-consuming process than the traditional method of shortlisting CVs. But as Chris is keen to highlight, it opens up the recruitment process to include a whole pool of talent that would otherwise have been overlooked. It also proactively challenges any preconceived stigma of neurodivergence and empowers individuals to apply for jobs they might otherwise have felt unable to.
Chris hopes this approach will go some way to ensuring the future of his company is more inclusive, and also hopes it will encourage other businesses to recognise the important contributions neurodivergent individuals can bring to the table.
"There are so many talented people out there that have real potential to make a valuable contribution to your business if you only remove those initial unnecessary hurdles," says Chris.