Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hiring for Hope: a non-profit dedicated to job placement

I recently ran across an organization called Hiring for Hope that dedicates itself to assisting people in their career search. Their funding comes from Donations and Fees charged to companies when they place someone. In an odd twist they also help couples who have recently lost a child. I think this is because two non-profit groups merged to form one.

Anyway, they offer an interesting outlet for the job search and may provide sensitivity that other recruiting firms lack.


A big shout out Thank you to Shift Journal

I want to take a moment to give a shout out to the Shift Journal who kindly published my series of posts regarding psychopaths and ASD. The exposure and traffic from that was great and as an added bonus they worked with Hacker News which spread the articles even wider.

SO thanks to Shift Journal and a request for you to check them out:

ASD & Aspergers at work: Colored Lenses?

I just read a scientific study by Amanda Ludlow, Arnold Wilkins & Pam Heaton discussing the increase in reading comprehension among ASD children when using a color overlay on their paper.
It may be that a similar process can be used by ASD adults in the workplace or at home. Try taking a color transparency and laying it over something you are reading and note your response. In the study color did not seem to matter so go with something pleasing to you.

If you do a lot of reading on the computer explore changing the default fonts and background of the application (e.g. Microsoft Word) and judge the effectiveness.

Or you can simply get a pair of Rose Colored glasses and see if that makes your whole day go better. If anyone asks just tell them you have an eye condition similar to Bono requiring that you protect your vision.

Article Citation: Ludlow, Amanda; Wilkins, Arnold; Heaton, Pam. Journal of Autism & Developmental Disorders, Aug2006, Vol. 36 Issue 4, p507-516, 10p

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

When good things happen to bad people

Some of you may noticed that the title of today's post is a play on the title of Harold S. Kushner's incredible spiritual meditation When Bad Things Happen to Good People, a deep and moving discussion on the nature of God and the misfortunes of our life. If you do believe in God yet have struggled with personal or external tragedies that seem senseless it is an excellent read. If you do not believe in God the book gives excellent points to argue with fundamentalists of many religions.

But the purpose of my post today is discuss our struggle with envy of co-workers who get ahead even though we think they are lazy, evil or stupid. I might have titled the post "why is that <bleep> driving a Porche" or "how did that <bleep> get a promotion". It just sounds nicer to say "when good things happen to bad people".

Some people will tell you that you should let go of your negative emotions in this regard, that they will hold you back. I am not one of those people. I suggest you limit the effect of those emotions on your life. Someone will always be better than you in one regard or another. Always. With nearing 7 billion people on this planet chances are they are in India or China at least. Wasting time hating someone on another continent is pretty silly... and it is the same with someone you work with. Don't hate them.

Let the envy drive you to be better than them. Look for the challenges and pass them like you would with a favored game. Imitate the things they do until you have them down. I once worked with a guy who literally did nothing but was loved and promoted. After a few months of resenting the hell out of this useless lump of flesh I decided to follow him around and see what he did all day. Turns out he had a very effective strategy to avoid work.

He would store up questions, even simple ones, that he needed to ask people in various departments. He would drop by their offices to talk about the questions and engage them in chats about topics he knew they would speak at length about. The question itself would take, maybe, ten minutes but he would ask about it at the end of the conversation. So, when you asked later, the two people had spent an hour discussing 'work' when in reality they only spent 10 minutes on work and anywhere from 50 to 80 minutes on interesting topics. And he was beloved as someone interested in them and dedicated to his work. He currently has a job flying around the world talking to people about topics that interest them while spending 10 minutes talking about his current company... and everyone thinks he is great.

So don't hate, imitate and vanquish those jerks.

Craft idea: Alien

So there might be some legal issues involved in this but anything you can make hearkens back to the chest bursting scene in the movie Alien is bound to bring you attention and some money. See this:

On a more serious note though, if you take public domain works and transform them into something edible, cute, impactful or whatever you can find a market for them. Think of a metal work rendition of the Last Supper or a wood block carving of the cave paintings in Lascaux, France. Or even a diorama of the Battle of Isandlwana.

Your obsessions can be profitable if you can communicate them in a new way so think about what you know well and then think about various forms of media/art; you never know. If Mark Kurlansky can make money on a book about Salt or Cod then you know there is a market for you somewhere.

Mark Kurlansky's books:

Salt: A World History & Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World

The Autspot: a new online community for ASD folk

Check out The Autspot a new online community for those one the Spectrum. Offers forums, blogs, groups and some of the features found on Facebook as well.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Stand out resumes

The Business Insider has an article with several insanely creative resumes that helped people stand out from all the other applicants:

Autism, ASD, & Aspergers at work: Meditation

During the lowest point of my fight with depression I discovered meditation. At the time, if I closed my eyes and tried to envision my brain operation, it was a big swirl of colors that made no sense. Using self-guided meditation I slowly built a mental sanctuary that, for the first time, helped me feel like I was in control of my depression and anxiety. I certainly had bumps and down points since then, but I know that since I did it once I can do it again.

Since that time I have used meditation with varying degrees of success to help me at work. Occasionally I put my head in a pose like I am thinking hard and slip into a trance. It can help me work out a problem or release tension caused by a co-worker. After a short period of time I am ready to go back into the grind and have avoided a meltdown.

I strongly suggest that you try it out. Here are some links on ASD and/or meditation:

Youtube Video on using Meditation with Aspergers

Workbreak Meditation

Project Meditation - Meditation at Work

Work and self: the ASD esteem issue

Each of us on the spectrum has run into days (or weeks; or months; or years) where we felt useless and worthless. Work can help some of that equation because it means somewhere someone finds our existence valuable enough to pay us to be around them... and do work of course.

But work is more than that and it is worth examining what working does for us:

  1. Provides a paycheck
  2. Helps us kill a few hours on a regular basis
  3. Gives us a sense of fulfillment
  4. Helps form our identity (Hegel's philosophy on this point is astounding)
  5. Allows us to do something we enjoy (this can happen occasionally)

Point number one is the primary driver behind a lot of our employment decisions. We take jobs we might not like in order to earn enough money to provide things we do like. When people ask me why I went in to computers, included in my answer is "and the pay is good". There are only a few things I like about working in computers in corporate America but the pay is one of them. If I had my way I would run a cat shelter that never refused taking in a kitty and only used euthanasia when quality of life was no longer possible. Not a whole lot of pay in that line of work.

Still it is hard not to feel like you're for sale when you trade in happiness for the steady corporate job. That tension will stay with you a long time and add anxiety into an already anxious life. So here is something to try: decide that you will work so that you can afford to find something that allows you to enjoy points 2 -5. Make this a conscious decision. You will feel empowered after doing it because you are doing something nice, very nice, for yourself. It is a gift that you can give to you and is hard for others to take away. Your 2- 5 job can change from time to time but it is still the same rewarding gift.

And if you enjoy some aspects of earning money then that is icing on the cake.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Writing a bio for a blog, social media or website

If you're like me (and many other ASD folk) talking about ourselves in glowing terms is difficult. We wind up sounding cheesy, or blunt or confused. It is so difficult for me that I am not even going to try to tell you how to write a bio. Instead I will point you at the Undercover Recruiter:

8 Steps to write a bio

Aspergers & ASD Careers: Independent Journalist

Journalism is the greatest check on power, aside from guns, ever invented. But it also offers a view into every day life that is hidden from the rest by the scarcity of time, separation of geography and distractions of every day life. Independent journalism can provide both a career path and a way to connect the world around us.

With our interest in learning, observation skills and attention to detail in our obsessions writing news articles on the community around us or the obsessions that make our lives can find an outlet in the independent journalists. These articles can serve as part of your portfolio and get your name out as an able journalist and writer.

Check out these resources:

Handbook of Independent Journalism - an outlet for your articles

Independent Media in Canada

Oh My News - another outlet that accepts citizen journalists

Using Facebook ads to land a job?

One day, one job expands on something I mentioned in an earlier blog post. Namely using targeted Facebook ads to look for a job. It is an interesting approach that I think has a cyclical impact... it will work for a time and then lose its impact only to regain traction later on.

Creating Facebook ads

One day, one job's article on using Facebook ads

ASD, Aspergers and the Feldenkrais Method of movement

Proper exercise is an important facet of our lives. Unfortunately the negative social experiences and limitations of our bodies often keep us ASD folk from engaging in physical activity. Yoga might be a reasonable solution if balance was not an issue; I do not know how many Yoga classes I have attended once or twice only to never go back because I fell over and into another participant.

However, the Feldenkrais Method is an excellent alternative and can help with the movement issues we experience. Founded by an Israeli Physicist/Psychology by the name of Moshé Feldenkrais as an away to gain awareness and control over the body. It has proven effective with those on the Spectrum as well as a host of others.

The increase in good posture, confidence and smoothness of movements will help you in your interactions at work or while seeking a job. My own experiences with it were nothing short of phenomenal at first. Overtime the benefits lessened but only because I had come so far. It is worth checking out the various centers in your area or even learning about the methods on line and trying them at home. It will not be quite the same as with a professional but the success there should give you hope for the professional sessions.

Feldenkrais Links:

Success with Feldenkrais and an ASD boy

Healing Thresholds on Feldenkrais and Autism

Feldenkrais website

Sunday, June 26, 2011

ASD & Asperger Strengths at work: self learning and ambition

Employers love people who are self motivated and learn on their own. As an ASD Spectrumite we posses both of these. Sure due to depression or horrible sleep there are times when the ambition is not quite as evident as others but it is there. It is what makes us reach out for help, read everything we can on a subject and even view blogs like this. We are always looking to be better tomorrow than we were today. And if that does not inspire you try this: would anyone willingly go through the myriad of therapies and medications we have without ambition to be in a better place?

You can look on your obsessions two ways... a hindrance or an asset. If you view them as hindrances then you will fight them and try to suppress them. Viewed as an asset you will brag about them and encourage yourself in them. The key thing is to brag about them the right way.

Take this for a concrete example. I love reading about World War II naval ships. I can either say "yeah, I have this thing about WWII naval ships that I waste time on"


I can say "My grandfather was on a ship in WWII. I am not sure if that spawned my desire to learn more, as a way of connecting with him, or not but I tell you, I have become something of an armchair expert on them."

Which one sounds more impressive? You can do the same with your career portfolio. So what if learning medieval cooking recipes has nothing to do with the job at hand. Working into the conversation that you wanted to be an expert at something and achieved the expertise is a feather in your cap that you should brag about.

Learning and creating your own web applications

I have noticed that some ASD folk think you need special education or a degree in Computer Science to learn programming. In reality there are alternatives. The web is rife with tutorials on how to learn various programming languages and where to go to get free tools to build them. Keep in mind that you will be judged on what you produce as much as how you produce it. Some programming shops are sticklers for knowing and operating with the theoretical frameworks taught in school. These too can be learned and used outside of a classroom environment (start with Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software) and then look for articles and blogs on the web that mention design patterns.

If you are partial towards Microsoft, or looking for a place to start check out this article from Geeks in Phoenix It gives a general overview of what is available from Microsoft to give you a leg up in your quest to learn more and show off what you can do.

Add your projects into your career portfolio and mention them on your LinkedIn account, web site and resume. It will show ambition and self learning; two items that are prized by employers everywhere.

Personal Branding: creating content

Jorgen Sundberg posted an article on Personal Branding that I think illustrates a similar point I have made on the Career Portfolio: content is the key. You want to create original works that help illustrate your value.

What I find ironic is that he deplores regurgitation which is precisely what I am doing here.

ASD Networking Alert: offers a new way to use Facebook to find a job has created a tool called BeKnown to help with using Facebook in your job search.

Some features are:
  1. The opportunity for employers to offer referral rewards to anyone — not just company employees.
  2. The opportunity for individuals to receive specific skills endorsements in addition to broader recommendations.
  3. The ability to access job postings and other content from inside Facebook and to see job postings at friends’ companies.
BeKnown Landing Page: Article:

Saturday, June 25, 2011

You don't need great emotional intelligence to make sure you keep your job, even with ASD,

Here's a story for you. Recently a major bank decided that one of its smaller divisions needed to be let go. About 200 people needed to find a new job. The bank was cool and most found a job elsewhere in the bank in a new role. A few of the sales people moved to a competing bank. Only one person was unable to find a new job in the bank; they were given two weeks severance.

To put your mind at rest they were NT; they did not get let go because they were ASD. They had a degree, a few years of experience and the bank even needed people in that role in other divisions. This person was let go because they were so disagreeable as a coworker no one spoke up for them. Even the HR person assigned to help this person find a new job finally threw up her hands and said "I can't work with this person any more".

The person in question was so hard to work with, burned so many bridges that even though rescue nets were in place to cushion or even prevent the fall everyone let go. To make the story even worse is that this person's reputation spread to other companies. Their phone was silent. You see in addition to pissing off everyone they ever came into contact with their work was, well, crap. Useless.

So what is the point of this depressing story? As an ASD person our social skills are often a weakness and cause us issues in the workplace. The thing is that we do not necessarily need to be perfect or the best, just not the worst. And it does not necessarily mean going well out of our way to pass as NT or kiss up. Doing nice things and avoiding a few well places traps will make sure you are in the same boat as everyone else rather than left to sink or swim your own.

Bring in candy to put in a bowl by your desk; speak pleasantly to others; don't gossip; limit meltdowns; do good work. You don't need a high Emotional IQ or a silver tongue and it will make sure you get the fighting chance along with everyone else.

The Insomnia Blog

Sleep is an important factor in retaining your job. You are sharper, easier to be around, prevent meltdowns and do not fall asleep at your desk. Many Spectrumites have horrible issues with sleep. I found a blog aptly titled the Insomnia Blog and it worth checking out. It is from an NT perspective but there may be tips that help out.

Getting hired in the summer

Depending on where you live summer can begin in May or June and extend through August or September. No matter when it occurs though trend is the same: hiring slows down during the summer. Vacations are more frequent so it is harder to gather the hiring managers together and the interviewers in one place.

This can be an excellent time to network with people though. Because of the vacations people can be less busy with meetings (though possibly busier with work) and relaxed from a recent vacation or anticipating upcoming time off. A well placed e-mail or phone call has a better success of getting someones attention.

So pick out a company, find someone who works there and reach out to them. You might not get the job in July but come September you can be first in mind for open positions. Also, you can break the ice with "So, do you have any time off planned?" It will put the contact at ease to reminisce about their time off or get excited talking about the future trip to Disneyland.

Another Forum for ASD job advice

Spectrumites has various forums or posting including one on employment. While it seems to be more recent than Wrong Planet and therefore smaller it does provide another avenue to connect with people that you may prefer.

Earning supplemental income making crafts

Making things with your hands can be a mentally and financially rewarding way to pass the time. A few people make a living at it but in reality it is usually supplemental income. If you have something that you like already then finding a way to sell it is the next part. If you do not know what to make then a trip to a Craft Fair or Saturday Market can help solve either problem.

Admittedly open air markets pose a difficulty but your trip should be more about scouting than talking to people. Look for something that you can make or already are making and the shops that sell it. Get their card to contact them away from the market and then offer to help supply the crafts to them for a cut of the sales. You will not make as much money as if yous old it yourself but then again you do not have to interact with all the customers either.

Additional stock can be sold online (eBay, etsy and other such websites offer sales outlets) and it gives you something to talk about when networking or interviewing.

Aspergers & ASD Careers

I found this article on careers for introverts. A lot of the usual suspects on there but two were a bit surprising... civil engineers and HVAC repair people. If you are looking for ideas check out the list here:

Friday, June 24, 2011

Certifications that can help you land jobs: FRM & ERP

The Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP) offers two certifications that are rigorous and valued by employers. The Financial Risk Managers (FRM) exam prepares you for market based analysis of financial risk. Consider a Quant training. The ERP (Energy Risk Professional) certification concerns itself with the risks associated with the energy market; a forward thinking skill given the looming shift from fossil fuel based electricity to other forms.

Quantitative analysis can provide extremely lucrative careers for ASD folk provided you are not directly dealing with the trading desk or deal makers.

Some of the books associated with these exams are:

Value at Risk, 3rd Ed.: The New Benchmark for Managing Financial Risk

Options, Futures, and Other Derivatives

Fixed Income Mathematics, 4E: Analytical & Statistical Techniques

And then there is the reading list for the ERP

I want to work: an Asperger Story

Garry Burge has an amazing book called I want to work.

I have just written a book which is now available for purchase, "I Want To Work - An Asperger Story" focuses on my own challenges and difficulties as an adult on the Autism Spectrum.  A book launch was held on Saturday 7th May 2011. 
For more information please visit Dr Tony Attwood's website or contact Asperger Services Australia 

Some of the topics I discuss include
  • Not being understood by the school system
  • The need for more employment agencies
  • Disclosure of my Asperger diagnosis in applying for employment
  • Strategies to assist adults on the Autism Spectrum find and keep a job

In due course I intend to get copies of my book into libraries, universities, education institutions and more! 
My book is now available in the National Library of Australia
Here is the link, second entry down:

My Account as an Aspie: Meeting with Peter MacDonald Autism Works

My Account as an Aspie: Meeting with Peter MacDonald Autism Works: "Today I met with Peter MacDonald from Autism Works..." Garry Burge writes about meeting with some executives at Autism Works UK.

Volunteer for Aspiritech: in Chicago and remote

Want to help out Aspiritech? Check out their volunteer needs here: (bottom of page)

Some of it you would have to be in Chicago but with the website & graphic design, fundraising and PR campaigns you could certainly be remote. Consider helping out a great company.

Scott Porad: Not resting on your laurels

I like Scott Porad. He is a great guy. Following him on Twitter and his blog helped me get considered for an interview at the company he is CTO for... the Cheezbuger Network (the LOLCats people). His post here has always caught my attention and not just because of his answer. Its that as the CTO for one of the hotter Web 2.0 companies in the nation he still e-mailed a tech leader seeking to meet with the guy and pick his brain.

That is not resting on your laurels at all. Stay hungry Scott. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tips for handling interview questions for people with Aspergers/ASD

For people on the spectrum interview questions can feel like traps or pointless. We will take them literally or answer in ways that do not promote our best value. Here are some tips to solving that problem.

When someone asks you "tell me about yourself" in an interview what do they mean? As someone with Aspergers I was always under the impression they meant "tell me about yourself". It turns out that even if they mean this the question is really a way for you to take over the conversation and direct it the way you want.

So, let's try this again... "tell me about yourself". Your response should be work oriented and specifically stressing areas at which you excel. You should start with a general comment tied to the position you are interviewing for like "I am an excellent pastry chef" [assuming you are applying for a pastry chef position] and then follow it with the single biggest achievement in your life related to the general comment. If they allow you to go further mention your second biggest accomplishment. After that ask a question that draws them into the conversation... something like "do you have need of someone who can do <biggest accomplishment>?"

Amazingly this same formula works for "what did you do at company x?" Lead with your biggest accomplishment at the company in question. Many of the general pithy sounding questions asked in interviews call for this response pattern. Even when asked "do you know y?", if you know it you talk about it in terms of your strongest accomplishment using y.

Practice this pattern at home. List out your accomplishments and role play your way through an interview answering with the accomplishments. Maybe even time yourself to make sure you do not drone on. These tips work and will make you stand out in an interview.

Is Software Testing the best job for ASD/Aspergers folk?

Companies like Aspiritech, Specialisterne, Uzmanlar, Kaien and Autism Works certainly provide an excellent opportunity for people on the Spectrum to engage in decent paying jobs in the high tech industry. But after 15+ years in software development I have to wonder: is software quality assurance the best place for ASD folk?

Outside of those companies I would have to say that it is not as ideal a job as it might seem. True the core strengths of ASD/Aspergers certainly play into the demands of a Software Quality Assurance Engineer or Analyst. However there is one key drawback to the job: conflict. Depending on the company there can be a lot of conflict. Conflict over the defects reports, conflict over the deadline, conflict over resources and so on. If there is one thing that is difficult for people with ASD it is conflict.

So I am thankful that the companies above can act as a shield for good software testers but keep in mind before jumping off into the great wide open world of software testing that the shield may not always be there. Many companies treat SQA as a necessary evil (and their products tend to show it) providing little in the way of advancement, training and compensation. I once had a CEO claim that SQA was an impediment to revenue... I always wondered what he thought the jammed support lines were.

If you are investigating a SQA position look for these things:
  1. Equality of equipment. If the developers have two monitors and the SQA staff has one, if the developers sit in offices while SQA has cubes or if the desk furniture for developers looks better than QA; STAY AWAY. It is telling you right there that you will be a second class citizen.
  2. Body language of the testers. I know; this is a hard one. To make it easy look for slumped shoulders, baggy eyes and downcast expressions. One is not a problem. A few is a warning. If the whole staff is like that, run. I once walked away from a great monetary offer because the one (ONE) tester for a department of 20 developers looked like some sort of undead creature.
  3. If during the interview the testers treat you like an inferior. Showing an inferiority complex in an interview is a bad sign anywhere; for software testers it usually means they are frustrated with their job and taking it out on you.
  4. Ask them what happens when QA stops a release. The answer will tell you a lot. If QA has never stopped a release, run. If the answer includes descriptions of horrendous meetings, run. If they laugh, run very fast.
  5. Inquire what the additional compensation is for QA (bonuses, stock, etc.). If QA is not eligible for it then you have another sign that you will be a second class citizen.
  6. If the interviewers do not let you speak with members of the team beyond them, even for a moment, then that is not a good sign. What are they hiding back there?
  7. Find out what the turnover is like in the department. Evasive or vague answers should server as yellow or even red flags.
This is not a foolproof method but it will certainly help inform you about the job. You may also go on to forums for SQA (e.g. QA Forums) and ask if anyone knows about the company.  Forewarned is your best bet to avoiding a conflict laden disrespectful environment.

Carbon Crafters employing people with disabilities

Not ASD specific but it offers a different job area than the traditional software testing route that many ASD specific companies have gone. They offer accommodation and are looking for funding.

"Carbon Crafters is a composite manufacturing company that will bring innovative products to market while employing a workforce primarily made up of adults with disabilities.  With budget cuts being made in local government municipalities across the nation, programs developed for those with special needs are being cut at an alarming rate.  These people are just like you and me, but they couldn’t keep up in school due to learning disabilities or conditions like Autism or Down Syndrome."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Resources for Asperger's Disorder

Resources for Asperger's Disorder is a site by Tonia Caselman out at The site is a useful and interesting collection of articles regarding Asperger's covering a broad spectrum. looks like an interesting way to repackage the traditional blog and worth a look on its own.

Blazing your own trail

Here is an article from about how you can go about starting your own business. It has many of the usual suspects for advice and sources of help (although I have not mentioned SCORE here yet) but it is nice to get a refresher along with their examples.

From Paycheck to Pay Dirt: Blazing Your Own Trail As a Business Owner

Customized Employment: Selling your business and your employment at the same time

My wife knows of a place on the California Coast that has possibly the best artichoke dipping sauce imaginable. People order it from around the nation because they stopped there once on a trip and always go back. I know I want to order some just thinking about it.

What if you created a way to drive people to the website to order the sauce? You would boost their sales without them investing a dime. Do you think they would pay you for that? A good business person would certainly consider it and maybe even hire you on since you found one way to increase sales.

The thing is you have to approach it the right way. You can certainly walk in with a cool website that might catch their attention. Or you could go in with facts showing how many people your site was responsible for; maybe you could capture some testimonials from people that went through you. And be sure to have a next step.

Here is the process in step form:

  1. Find a target company
  2. Determine the metric you will use to measure your success
  3. Find out who the key influencer in the target company is
  4. Create your method for increasing sales (traffic; moving merchandise; etc)
  5. Run it for a month or two (or even a full quarter or two) measuring your success
  6. While that it going on think of how you can increase your success
  7. At the end of your trial contact the influencer; show them your method and success; tell them you have a way to improve on that success and then offer to sell it and you to them

Maybe they say no. Life and business is not without some risk. Even still you would have the makings for a heck of a resume/career portfolio item. If they say yes then you get some money, possibly equity in the business and perchance a job. You could even pursue something like this while also pursuing a regular job since job hunting usually takes only half of a day (or less). If you are unemployed what real harm?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Should you disclose your ASD condition?

An often asked question by those on the Spectrum is "should I disclose my condition to my employer". Almost always the answer posted by the blogger is "it depends".

Disclosure is up to you but if you are reluctant then may I suggest asking for specific reasonable accommodations during the interview process? For instance ask if they can provide noise canceling headphones. As with any work equipment it would stay with them after you leave.

If during your office tour you noticed that their open floor design would be more than a little distracting. See if they can find you a desk with one or two of the sides against walls to help shield you from being surrounded by distractions.

It is very common for people to complain about the lighting in a place. Consider asking that one of the bulbs in the fluorescent lights be removed.

You can even do this while tied into your tasks. "I find concrete instructions work best with me. How would tasks be presented?" "I am much more effective if I have a recording of meetings that I can review later on." "How does the team resolve conflicts?" All of these force the conversation towards the work and how you can perform best without announcing "I have Asperger's!"

Speaking up ahead of time and making reasonable demands will go a long way to resolving any workplace accommodation issues that you might have without revealing private information.

Happy Longest Day of the year (in the northern hemisphere)

If you have SADS or dislike darkness then this is a major holiday for you!

Summer Solstice

Careers for ASD folk: plumber

When you think about it this might be an ideal job... little interaction with humans, need to pay attention to details, fairly advanced knowledge needed for some aspects, good pay. The only real question in my mind would be speed; if you have someone breathing down your neck to get something done that could be bad. Still I wonder if it is like that. eHow has an article on how to become a plumber. Many good suggestions but a great one is find a plumber and ask them what it is like. Also, there is a union to help look out for your interests.

Tips for freelancers

One of my favorite blog sites for social media has some general tips for freelancers looking to use Social Media to increase business. For those of us on the ASD Spectrum, Social Media presents a way to socialize without actually speaking directly to others... at first at least. Check it out:

Monday, June 20, 2011

Finding the market segment for your labor

The traditional model for a unit of labor (i.e. you the employee) is that you are a set of marketable skills collected into one place and then sold directly to a consumer (i.e. the company). You advertised your supply via the resume and they advertised their demand via the want ad.

However there is another model that has bounced around for a long time. That is the one where you market and sell your output to people who wanted it. Maybe it went directly to the consumer or maybe there was someone who passed your output on to the consumer for a fee (e.g. an art gallery that sells paintings on consignment).

Lets view that model in light of more traditional skills. Consider your skills as a service that can be used by another company to enhance their goods or services rather than something they directly consume. In fact, to provide a concrete example. As a software tester a company might pay you $50,000 per year to work on their software... or they might pay Aspiritech $100,000 for the same task. There is some overhead in having an employee but more often than not it is the perception of the business that employee costs are a different bucket and one that can be squeezed down. Vendors on the other hand, well that is what the market will bear.

So when looking for a job find out what the vendors in the market segment charge for a similar service and then market yourself as a vendor if the money is better.

Jobs for Autism

Here is a site that introduced themselves to me today: Jobs for Autism

Check them out!

How to survive dysfunctional teams

I found this blog post while poking around and figured the advice here might be useful for ASD folk trapped in a nasty work group:

Main blog link

Boosting the impact of your resume

I was talking with a friend of mine at lunch about how he stood out when he was at his first job. He was in charge of collecting on delinquent credit card accounts. It was not a good job and he planned on moving up or out fast. There were three ways he could talk about his main duty:
  • Collect delinquent debts on open credit cards
  • Monitor 30 credit accounts for outstanding debts and recoup money on those accounts
  • Protected $1.3 million of at risk money for the company
Guess which one caught his boss's attention and made his resume stand out when he went to interview for a new position? The $1.3 million stands out and is something people in any position can understand. It shows concern for the company and an understanding of the real purpose of the position.

Consider this: as a customer service agent are you answering calls for the company or are you improving customer loyalty? As a blogger are you informing the public or are you drawing visitors to the money making parts of the website? The company and the managers in that company have their view... catering to that view in your writing will make you stand out above your co-workers or the bazillion other candidates applying for the same job.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Expanding your view of employment

I found this article from Steve Shore written in 2009 that helps frame some of the customized employment ideas I have seen elsewhere as well as giving a new way of thinking about the disparate ways to make money.

Models of Employment: Different ways of Looking at the World of Work

A writing job for people on the ASD spectrum

If you want to earn some cash, hone your writing and let the world know about one of your special interests then check out writing for Their articles are read repeatedly and offer a nice feather in your cap. You can use it to further your writing career, add credibility to your efforts to get paid for your special interests or bolster your career portfolio.

You can find out more here: Be a Guide -

Another Aspie carves their own path in the world

Laura Nadine makes her living as a violinist. It helps that she started training early and is an acclaimed virtuoso. Yet she still has struggles and it is worth checking her story out.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Impaired Cortisol Awakening Response can change your whole work day

The Cortisol Awakening Response is an increase of the cortisol levels in the blood in the first 20 to30 minutes after waking up in the morning. The exact reason for this increase is unknown but it is theorized to be a response to the anticipated stress of the day. For those under heavy workloads or even waking up on a work day as opposed to an off day the increase is greater.

This is relevant to those of us on the ASD Spectrum when viewed in light of a scientific study published in the August 2009 issue of Psychoneuroendocrinology (by Brosnan, et al) demonstrating that adolescent males with Asperger's Syndrome presented a higher than normal incidence of impaired cortisol production. It may be that from the time we wake up we have a different response to the day's stress than the NT population.

Cortisol replacement is a difficult process. Unless a patient presents with severely impaired adrenal gland function most doctors will not prescribe cortisol replacement. Still changes like making sure to waking up in daylight, waking up earlier, selective sleep deprivation and caffeine use may fight the lack of cortisol awakening response. Investigate these and see if any make sense to try in a limited fashion.

[with apologies to Dr. Brosnan for misspelling his name the first time around]

Cover letter advice found on Craigslist

Here is an article on writing a cover letter that I think sheds some light on an issue I have struggled with: how much bragging verse honesty should we have in a cover letter. From his perspective the ASD bluntness traits would really work well:

Should someone with Aspergers/ASD work at a start-up business

Start-up companies in high tech are some of the most chaotic and accepting places you can find. One would be a real detriment to someone on the Spectrum and the other a real bonus. And if a start-up hits it big then you can be rewarded well. Some Aspies have even created their own start-ups simply because of the flexibility they provide. In many ways they allow for customized employment within the stability of a company. If you are considering working at a start-up keep these things in mind:

  1. Be open about your needs. You do not necessarily have to disclose your condition but be sure to mention your sensitivities and short comings. You may not get the job but you will be happier anyway; if they cannot handle the issues in the interview you would have been miserable on the job
  2. Expect a lot of chaos. Start-ups are dynamic... some are very dynamic and change is constant. Make sure you deal with the anxiety from the change.
  3. Ask about their funding. "Close to closing our first round" is often code for "we're not sure the lights will be on next month". Make sure they have money for your position for at least 18 months.
  4. Push for an equity stake. They salary is nice but the real bones come from the equity in the company.
  5. Consider offering to contract with them for a while to see what it is like... that way if you are uncomfortable you can leave with fewer hurt feelings.
  6. Write down the names of everyone you work with. Turnover can be high in start-ups and keeping in contact with the people that leave will help you network if things go sour.
  7. Keep in mind that it could fail. A lot of start-ups fail or struggle along for years without achieving anything; that is the nature of business. Look for signs that it might not be working out... like suddenly office supplies are no longer provided.
  8. Seek to customize your work space with things that make it easier for you. Sound baffling, hidden corners and pleasing wall colors are frequently possible in a start-up.
  9. Tailor your duties to things you like. You may have to take on more tasks than at a big corporate job but you can often make sure those tasks are suited to you.
No one gets rich off of just a salary and start-up companies offer a route to achieving wealth, recognition and acceptance that are not always available in larger companies. There are risks and the wise ASD person will explore that before taking a position there.

Friday, June 17, 2011

A place to exercise those Special Interest muscles

For those of you wanting to show off your mad special interest skills I suggest checking out Stack Exchange. It leans (heavily) towards computer based topics but there are other areas like philosophy, cooking role playing games and so on.  It is a chance to network without doing a ton of interaction.

Kaien: Japanese company like Aspiritech, Specialisterne, Uzmanlar & Autism Works

To my shame I forgot to mention Kaien early on as a company that was founded to provide employment for ASD folk. Check them out at:

Update: Psychopaths, Sociopaths, ASPD and ASD/Aspergers: Recap and Resources

A few years ago there was a rage among psychologists and sociologists looking at the prevalence of sociopaths/psychopaths in the workplace. I got caught up in that and did a ton of research; at one point it was going to be my master's thesis.  As a wrap up of my series on psychopaths, sociopaths & narcissists in the workplace I wanted to collect the links to the previous articles as well as some other links to books and articles on the subject.

To recap my main points: People with Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD) like psychopaths/sociopaths look for certain types of victims. Those on the Spectrum often have traits that play right into the ASPD individuals hands and potentially make us targets more often than others. I discuss some of the characteristics you can spot that might mean someone is ASPD and how to protect yourself as well as note that those with narcissistic personality disorder may seem similar to an ASPD but in reality have different motivations and are easier to protect yourself.

[Update: fixed the protection link]


Other Resources:

Wikipedia for Robert Hare, preeminent researcher on Psychopaths

Hare's first book: Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us
Hare's Second book (with Paul Babiak): Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work

Paul Babiak; industrial psychologist who studies bullying and ASPD disorder in the workplace

Mask of Sanity, a PDF of Hervey M. Cleckley's groundbreaking work on ASPD

Martha Stout's book The Sociopath Next Door

Article: Red Flags for workplace sociopaths
Article: How to Deal with a Sociopath
Article: Coping with Psychopaths @ work
Article: Workplace Psychopaths: how to deal with them
Article: What is the difference between a narcissist and a sociopath?
Article: The Borderland of Narcissism and Sociopathy

Corporate America's Efficiency

As children we're taught how capitalism and corporations are efficient entities always trying to do more with less. Here is an article from the Business Insider that picks that apart:

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Autistic Doctor's blog

Here is a blog from someone who is a doctor and on the spectrum. Only two posts so far but seeing this sort of career dissection could be very interesting.

Stress, Aspergers and my job

Today I came close to a meltdown. With the recent flooding of our house we are displaced and living with my wife's parents until insurance can kick in with long term housing. I have had about five hours of sleep each of the nights since it happened. And my project at work is not going well.

This afternoon I got an e-mail that kind of set me off. I went into my bosses office and ranted about the e-mail for a while. Thankfully he is a level headed guy and just listened and offered to help with the business side of the rant while ignoring the rant side of the rant.

I wish I could say I was perfect but I am not. This is one of the days where I fell far short of my expectations of myself. I hope to get a good night sleep tonight and start all over again tomorrow.

Using Facebook for your job search

The Undercover Recruiter has some suggestions on using Facebook that, to be honest, are pretty standard (network, status updates etc.). However one caught my eye... creating an advertisement for your search. I am not sure how I feel about it but it is certainly a novel approach:

The Undercover Recruiter: 5 ways to use Facebook for your Job Search

Keeping your mind alive

I think one of the things that they do not teach in college, that they certainly should, is that a vast majority of jobs are near mindless work. Even when part of the job involves something really interesting the bureaucracy of working in a company, the difficulty in working with a bunch of people or the dreariness of your office environment will take up a lot of the time.

There are a few solutions like starting your own business where the struggles of being a small business owner will seem more important because it is your paycheck you are fighting for. Or you can try to contract in your chosen area and take work that is interesting, if there is enough to go around. But for those of us who are stuck being a corporate citizen the challenge remains how do we keep our mind alive.

The first thing is to value whatever parts of your job are enlivening and see how you can increase that portion. And the second is to find something(s) out of work that really engage us. ASD folk tend to have many intense interests so it should not be hard to find something that can occupy the non-work hours-- or any surreptitious work hours you can devote. The key thing is to find something or else you will find your mind atrophying away like a retired boxer.

Narcissism, ASPD and ASD/Aspergers

Narcissistic people and Sociopaths/Psychopaths are very similar in their effects on the ASD population in that dealing with either is stressful and can damage our self-esteem and career. However they are different behaviors and that means we need to consider the narcissist slightly differently.

I would argue that it is possible to work and work well with a narcissist with fewer protections than the person with ASPD. If it helps, consider that the narcissist's actions result from a need to prop themselves up rather than from a compulsion to harm others. As one article put it "The less validating you are, the less worth you have for the narcissist. The less exploitable you are, the less worth you have for the sociopath." It is harder to limit ASD exploitability than it is to increase your validation of another. Therefore you can 'play the narcissist's game' a lot easier by simply feeding into their need for validation. The more they value you the more they will protect you.

Still they can be dangerous so keep these things in mind:

  1. A narcissist will blame others for their failures; be sure you have your bases covered
  2. Set boundaries on what work you can/will take on; a narcissist will likely delegate everything they are supposed to do
  3. Narcissists will mirror successful behavior of others; your actions can help influence them
  4. Limit your time spent with them in person to reduce stress
  5. Limit how often you talk about yourself or anyone that is not the narcissist when they are present
  6. Use a third party to maintain your grounding when dealing with them or you may lose your personality

Moving them out of your life is also an option but not nearly as necessary as with a sociopath/psychopath. If you feed into their ego, provide results and take care of your mental state it is possible to have long and rewarding careers near narcissists. Often their self-centered attitude and ego will move them up the corporate ladder and those that support them can reap the rewards too; not just money but challenging projects as well.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Global Business Etiquette Help

Wrong Planet is one of the most aptly named internet resources for ASD and Aspergers as all of us feel like we are strangers traveling in a strange land. As such we seek guidance on how to deal with the social and business mores of this strange culture we are in.

Kwintessential has thumbnail guides on the business etiquette for various countries that can help demystify it a bit for us especially if we have to do business abroad.

Their general Etiquette, Customs and Protocol Guides are useful too:

One strategy for career longevity

At my first full-time job one of my coworkers took me aside and said "Scott, to stay around here you have to make yourself indispensable." I asked how and his response was "Do a task that no one else can or wants to do that is important to the company. Look around you, no one here will train you on what they do because they want to make sure they are the only one doing it."

No really, that is a horrible way to run a business and if everyone at the company is working like that chances are it will collapse due to loss of a key person/people. But there is something to the argument that if you know something that others at the company do not then you have a shot at being retained above other people.

So occasionally ask yourself what you do that someone else cannot or what the company cannot easily replace. If you cannot think of something find out what only one other person in the company can do and learn that or volunteer for a task that is essential.

Protecting yourself against psychopaths in the workplace

Once you suspect that you are working with or for (and in some cases above) a sociopath/psychopath/ASPD person the next step is protecting yourself. This protection goes beyond just keeping your job and includes making sure you remember who you are; i.e. do not start to question yourself.

A general strategy of all of these types is to make sure that you believe their reality. Consider it like the movie Gaslight where they are trying to get you to believe them and question yourself. These tactics will help you retain who you are and what you hold:
  1. Set up an independent person that you can check in with; preferably one with no contact with the suspected sociopath. Robert Hare in his book Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us mentions that he and his staff have to constantly do this or they get taken in by the criminals they interview. So if trained psychologists have to have this outlet it is likely the rest of us do too.
  2. Along those lines use your company's Employee Assistance Program to bounce your concerns off of
  3. Write copious contemporaneous notes. You can use the information there to remind you of the reality of what was said and when as well as give evidence to counter claims against you
  4. If your workplace rules allow it, record conversations with the person. There is no expectation of privacy in the workplace so unless your company policy forbids recordings this is perfectly alright. Even if there is a policy make inquiries as to the rules for doing so. Again, the recordings will help ground you and provide proof if a confrontation arises.
  5. Send follow-up e-mails about conversations and CC in your boss or others. "These are my take-aways from our meeting of June 15th at 2:00 p.m."
  6. Avoid them if you can. If they are on a project you are on see if you can transfer off.
  7. File a sealed letter with HR containing your suspicions with the instructions that it only be opened later at your request. If that does not work then get the letter notarized so that it will show a history of suspicion from the start.
  8. Work with your supervisor to set and enforce boundaries concerning tasks, time etc. Even if your boss is cozened by the person you will have an easier time reminding your boss of the boundaries than the suspected individual.
  9. Keep answers short and to the point with the suspected person. Any extraneous information will be used against you.
  10. Try to keep all conversations with the person three party or more so there are witnesses.
  11. Remind yourself that you are sane... every day if you have to
It may seem like a lot of work but remember what and who you are protecting: you and your career. These people do not play by any set of rules even though you do. Protect yourself within the rules.

Potential ASD job: Kennel Attendent

With the flooding of our house we needed to find a long term home for our kitties so I we made reservations at a boarding place. While there I noticed one of the attendants in the dog run and had some suspicions about him. During the lengthy check-in process I started talking with him and indeed, he is on the ASD spectrum.

I asked him how he liked his job and he loves it. Only a few humans to interact with and all the dogs he can pet. He mentioned a couple of others in the place that also are on the spectrum and how much they enjoy their jobs. Thankfully none of them have to answer phones or work the front desk. Their only real issue is that a barking or meowing explosion can be difficult at times but they have the ability to step away for a moment and regroup.

The downside is the pay is not that great but it is better than zero (and better than minimum wage too).

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A promotion without a raise

I once turned down a promotion because there was nothing in it for me. No new challenges, no additional vacation or bonus, no exposure and most importantly no raise. Alison Doyle addresses this same issue in here article here:

For ASD folk keep in mind that just because they say Promotion does not mean it is a promotion. In reality someone is trying to get you to do more for the same amount of money/compensation as before. Tread lightly and be polite if you turn them down.

Using Twitter in your job search

Twitter is an amazing tool when you think about it... a heck of a lot of information gets passed around in 140 characters or less. And one of the various things is that Job Searches can be enhanced by Twitter.

As with all Social Media curate your presence to make sure it is professional and links to a resume/web page about you. If you are openly searching mention the jobs you are searching for; use the keywords tag (#<keyword>) if it is something people look for.

But there is more. You can stalk the people at companies you want to work at. Say you really want to take part in the LOLCats company? then follow the CEO Ben Huh or CTO Scott Porad or simply look for people on Twitter that work there and see if they Tweet about job openings. If nothing else you will get an idea of what is important to the company and/or to them and that will give you an advantage in Cover Letters, Resumes and Interviews.

Also, there are whole profiles devoted to job searching. Follow @Microjobs and see what he tweets out. And if you are feeling particularly brave tweet "I want a job at @<company>" and see if anyone responds.

Use Twitter to gain intelligence for the interviews too. Often the fires of the day will appear on the Twitter account of workers there. You can use that information when interviewing like "Remember last week when your Gold Position fell in value and your hedge did not kick in?" Something like that demonstrates you care about them and know about them.

Finally there are the Twitter Search engines devoted to finding jobs. TwitJobSearch is one such example. Google twitter job search and see what comes up.

Spotting Psychopaths in the workplace.

One of my favorite books is Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe: A Novel. There is a chapter that starts out talking about how a complete stranger is the only person to spot that an antagonist is an inhuman monster. When asked how he knew which of the antagonist's eyes was fake he responded "It was the only one with a glimmer of human compassion in it". If only it were so easy in the working world.

Psychopaths, sociopaths, Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD), whatever you want to call it, people like that can do well in the workplace. Someone like this is able to chameleon themselves into appearing like a strong leader, an achiever, a results oriented person and sometimes everyone's best friend... well, best friend to everyone above them. In reality they weave a series of lies and collateral damage into a time-bomb that goes off after they leave.

One time I worked with a woman who showed all the tendencies of a business psychopath. Treated the people below her like crap, lied even when it suited no purpose, back-stabbed people (I was the first victim) left and right all with the appearance of getting results. Her lies were so blatantly obvious that I thought anyone would see through them. Her biggest whopper was that she had sold a company to Microsoft, made millions and did not need to work. Aside from there being no record of the transaction on Microsoft's legally required disclosures, her car was fifteen years old and barely worked; her 'work' outfits were not exactly Bloomingdale's and when doing business with Microsoft at our company she could not produce the name of one person there who knew her. Still, people loved her. After she killed my professional advancement in that company I switched to another department with my complaints falling on deaf ears. I was in the wrong and just jealous of her.

A year later I did have a little satisfaction when one of the people who told me I was off my rocker came back and apologized saying that they had no idea she was like that. This was after she torpedoed them at another company both had moved to with fanfare.

I began to notice I had a particular antipathy towards people like this. I think part of it is because psychopaths are likely to target people on the ASD spectrum as easy prey. We are usually held as less trustworthy to begin with due to our social issues and have a problem with confrontation. Also with our difficulty in thinking strategically we can be dismissed as 'missing the big picture'. I tend to clash often and fervently with business psychopaths and narcissistic workers alike. They are very similar.

This is not a scientific study but my mental checklist for determining if someone is at least a possible business psychopath; it certainly should not take the place of Hare's checklist and proper study. Instead use it to know if you need to put special guard up. Here are the characteristics that I have seen cluster around these people:

  1. The lies and often grandiose lies (one guy told a tale of helping France revamp their postal system even though he had never been to France, does not speak French, knew nothing about letter/parcel delivery and France seems like they would do this on their own; not contact a guy in Los Angeles)
  2. When challenged, especially on trustworthiness, makes dismissive attacks on the person challenging them.
  3. Treats people 'below them' (subjective) very poorly even when there is no cause-- even a flimsy cause
  4. Delights and brags about cruel behavior to others; especially animals, children, women etc.
  5. If male, can be a major philanderer... not like one affair but several; often at the same time
  6. Claims they are a big picture, leader or other buzzword of the day for someone who is an executive of a fortune 100 company when they are not
  7. Uses business buzzwords a lot; often to disguise their lies or to appear like they are in the know
  8. Makes moves every year or two (a sign their BS is catching up to them)
Like I said, this is certainly not a scientific list and can get you in to trouble if you based hiring decisions or work interactions solely on it. Instead it provides a framework to be concerned and to start looking at protecting yourself.

Another company joins Aspiritech, Specialisterne & Uzmanlar

Please welcome Autism Works to the family of ASD companies. They are based in the UK.

From their site:
AutismWorks aims to help bring dignity and happiness to people with a Autism Spectrum Condition or Aspergers Syndrome through sustainable employment in IT.

We are in the process of building the enterprise from the ground up and are currently laying the foundations.
Check them out at:

Personal Branding v Career Portfolio

I talk a lot about building your career portfolio and little about branding... I do this on purpose. A career portfolio is a set of results (projects, accomplishments, valuable products) that you create that should be able to speak for themselves with only a little framing. Personal Branding is creating a coherent story out of your career & life. A strong portfolio is, by its nature, self branding; the worth should be self evident with only a limited amount of words linking them to you (or together).

I actually think personal branding can be quite valuable but it often requires a level of abstract communication that is difficult for those of us on the ASD Spectrum. Marketing is difficult and the casuistry and spin called for by that profession is often beyond us. Producing self explanatory results is not. So build the portfolio and let it do the talking.

Monday, June 13, 2011

A flooded house

I arrived home from work to find that a pipe had burst in our house and flooded it. That was at 6:00 p.m. It is now 11:00 and the clean up crew is still trying to remove water and have fans dry carpets. Posts may be a bit delayed while we deal with this.

Networking Tips For Introverts - maybe they work for ASD too?

For most of us on the Spectrum our issues go beyond mere introversion but some of these tips will help just the same.

Six Easy Networking Tips for Introverts 

Note: tip #1 works well for interviews too

Aspergers: Thinking outside the box

One of the annoying buzzwords/phrases thrown around in the workplace is "thinking outside the box". The best definition I can tell you is that this is supposed to spur on some sort of creative solution. Often though I think it is said by someone who wants to do their managing by cliche and catchphrases than by actual work.

In any case though one of the best examples for thinking outside the box I have used with employees is the Doubt Helix by James Watson. You get a rare look into how two scientists along with Rosalind Franklin were able to use new techniques to leap ahead of the better funded efforts into discovering the structure of DNA. By adopting these new methods three unheralded scientists beat out Linus Pauling at CalTech, among others, to one of science's biggest prizes of the past century.

While there are some ethical discussions of Crick & Watson's use of Rosalind Franklin's work (see Rosalind Franklin and DNA and the Wikipedia article on Rosalind Franklin) there is no doubt that they were able to think outside the box.

The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA

Tips for employers to accommodate an AS employee

Say you find an employer who is willing to hear about how to work with you or someone asks "How do I accommodate an Aspergers employee?" You could send the AskJan site but that might seem a bit intimidating to them since it is the US Department of Labor. My Aspergers Child has a wonderful post on ways an employer can accomodate an AS person in the workplace:

Phone interview tip: stand up

Phone interviews are difficult for many on the Spectrum as it introduces a flat sounding medium between us and the interviewer (although in some cases that might be a help). There are dozens of tips floating around out there about how to make a phone interview go well; some are easier than others.

One quick thing I have heard, tried, passed on and received great feedback on is to stand during the phone interview. It stretches out the diaphragm and strengthens the voice. I started doing that for business calls too and it has been helpful.

One thing though, don't pace. Once I became out of breath from nervously walking and had to answer questions about that.

Social Media: LinkedIn Tips

For those of you with a LinkedIn account here is a list of 10 tips that help increase the success and impact of your LinkedIn Account when doing a job search.

Conflict in the workplace: Introduction to Psychopaths, Sociopaths and Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Psychopath. Sociopath. Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD). Whatever you want to call it, in the workplace, these individuals are poison and prey upon their coworkers as means to get an end... whatever that end might be. It is my contention that these people will prey upon ASD folk first as the ASD weaknesses align with the main symptoms of ASPD:
  • Deception as means of getting ahead? Meet the ASD difficulty with abstraction.
  • Impulsiveness? Meet the ASD difficulty in adapting to rapid change.
  • Aggression? Meet the ASD difficulty in standing up for ourselves
This is an introduction to a series of articles for this week dealing with the difficulties of dealing with psychopathic/sociopathic behavior in the workplace as well as their cousin Narcissistic personality disorder. I have fallen victim to each of these types in business and I wager I am not the only one on the Spectrum to have encountered the same problems.

Another Department of Labor resource for your job search

Yet another Department of Labor resource for your career search:

Offers various pages on job searching, resumes, interviewing, researching your career and people/places that can help.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Peek-a-boo Princess: an addition to my career portfolio

I just added another item to my Career Portfolio. I created a jQuery based website game for my daughter. She will love it and I can point to it when interviewing.  Check out Princess peek-a-boo

Dude, I'm An Aspie: Dreams or Happiness

Dude, I'm An Aspie.: Dreams or Happiness: "My job search is over. Earlier this week I accepted an offer, and I start July 1. "

Congratulations Dude!

Aspergers job tips from a Job Coach perspective

Here are some tips for the Job Coach in handling someone with Aspergers. Interesting take and some tips for those on the Spectrum seeking to change their work environment. Props to Aspiritech for finding and tweeting it out.

Check it out:

Ask the questions

Sometimes in a new job (or even an old one) we might not want to ask questions either due to social anxiety or because of fear of looking ignorant. This can lead to a lot of trouble as we get stonewalled without needed information and appear to be 'not working'. Find a way to ask the question.

One thing I will do is ask "Can I see how you perform task X? I want to compare my own process to see if I can improve." Often this covers the fact that I am unclear on how to use a piece of software or cannot remember a particular intranet address I need to go to in order to access information.

And if you are worried about asking the same thing over and over keep cheat sheets on tasks so you can write notes down. Asking to clarify something someone said before is much better than asking them the same question over again.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Challenging the Asperger's Mind: Amazon Mechanical Turk

Amazon has the Amazon Mechanical Turk where humans can make money doing what machines cannot or have  a hard time doing. The idea being that someone asks for something to be done and a legion of people leap in and work on it for modest rewards (small payments or gift certificates to amazon). Not something you can support a whole family on to be sure but a nice way to challenge your mind and make a bit of money.

Check it out:

Using Kickstarter to bolster your career portfolio

One way you can put your name out there in a creative forum is via Kickstarter a crowdfunding platform that allows people to donate to creative projects. Among their successes are a RoboCop statue in Detroit, the free personal web server Diaspora and the Coffee Joulies.

If successful then you will have a public item you can point to on your resume or in interviews. even if it is not funded you have the networking and exposure from the attempt as well as a demonstration of your creativity. Four autism/asperger projects were attempted in 2010 with none being funded; not surprising given the 40% funding rate for projects.

Check it out here and if a thought hits you, take a chance and suggest a project:

Findlaw and ASD/Aspergers Workplace Discrimination

Findlaw is an excellent starting point for researching discrimination claims and procedures if you are encountering issues in the workplace. Check out their work disability discrimination law page at:

First steps after being laid off or fired or terminated

Being laid off or fired is painful. It is a blow to the wallet and the self-esteem at the same time. Depending on how it was handled it might even make you lose faith in humanity. Many people's first inclination is to go out and apply for a dozen jobs the next day... that is usually a bad idea. You are not at your best in the days following a termination and it will show in your application, cover letters, resumes and interviews. Even if you do get a job the latent anger and sadness will come out while you are at the new job.

So, here is a plan of action for the first days following your termination:
  1. Give yourself a few days; make it through the anger phase if at all possible
  2. Investigate the bureaucratic relief possibilities (unemployment, etc.)
  3. Check out the legal relief possibilities if you think those are applicable
  4. Take at least one day and call it a vacation day
  5. Get involved in a new project like volunteering or a creative effort
  6. Check in with people you have not talked to for a while
  7. Read a book
  8. Consider what you can put on your future resumes that differentiates yourself from other people looking for jobs
  9. Then start looking

At the end of these steps you will be in a better frame of mind and able to make a good impression. I recall one time an associate of mine was laid off from his job and decided to interview the next day. He showed up in shorts, unshaven and complained about the layoff during the interview. The company he interviewed with desperately needed someone with his skills and yet still chose to pass because of the way he presented himself.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Job Sink is on Facebook

It was inevitable really... but here is the link:

Drop by and Like it if you feel up to it. I know I would appreciate it.

Specialisterne article

An article from someone who works at Specialisterne in Denmark: Being Employed With Asperger's Syndrome

"When I was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome in 2003 at the age of 25, I had already pretty much given up hope of ever finding and getting a job that was right for me."

Using social media in your job search

I will probably devote a few posts to social media in your job search so I think it makes sense to first list out the places I think you should start or curate your social presence.

You should have, at the least, an account with:

And make sure there is nothing embarrassing or unprofessional on any of these. Something outing you as to being on the ASD Spectrum is up to you but make sure the pictures of you pretending to be RollerGirl from Boogie Nights are removed.

Quick Memory Aide for periodic tasks

One of the things I have a major problem with is tasks that occur once a month. In the intervening 27-30 days I will forget many of the steps needed to perform the task. When they come up I often create a series of print outs with hand written notes. One job had so many that I had piles laying around until a new thought occurred to me.

Using PowerPoint and Windows built in screen capture I took snapshots of the work screens I was using and pasted them in slides in PowerPoint. Then I added notes to the slides as needed without having tons of paper laying around. Even if you do not have PowerPoint the screen capture ability is still there. Select the window in question, hit ALT-Print Screen, open up PowerPoint/Paint/Whatever and hit CTRL-V. Viola, a screen shot of what you were working on and the state it was at that moment.

Blog tip for those on the Spectrum

If you are using a blog as a creative outlet or to draw attention to yourself one thing you should watch out for is blog post bombing. Imagine for a moment that you have an intense interest in something and problems sleeping (sound familiar?). You are up late at night churning out blog posts only to find out that the last one is read a lot and the rest are ignored. What happened?

My guess is that when everyone else woke up they saw a half dozen new blog posts and only read the last one. To combat that use the scheduling feature in your blog to queue up publishing of your posts and space them out over a period of a few hours. More will get read and the readers will be much more appreciative since they did not get a flurry of posts all at once.

Interview Research Tip for ASD/Aspergers folk

When investigating a place to work for an interview there are the usual suspects; Google, their website, Facebook, the Better Business Bureau etc. However one place that might get overlooked is The Consumerist which a sister site to Consumer Reports. It collects stories of customer interactions with businesses.

Why look here? Because you may find yourself involved with a company that people have a lot of issues with. For instance you may never see a customer while working for a big box electronics store but the moment you tell someone you work there you will be subjected to horror stories of what it is like to shop at the store.

The information you find should not necessarily make or break your employment decision but it is something to consider, especially if you have any sort of customer interaction.