Office Hours Q&A: 5 Neurodivergent-Friendly Tips We Learned About Resumes & CVs

Job Search, Office Hours Q&A
Veronica Yao

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by Veronica Yao

Job applications can be extremely daunting and overwhelming – after all, they are literally invitations to be judged! Resumes can stop even the most willing job hunters in their tracks, especially if they’re neurodivergent.

As someone who spent a huge chunk of her 20s job hunting, my resume was a regular presence in my life. And when I learned how to optimize my approach to submitting applications, I started helping other people do it too. Eventually, I got to experience the recruitment process as a hiring manager as well, which really helped me connect the dots and figure out a lot of the “why” behind what we do as job hunters.

I wanted to pass this wisdom onto my fellow neurodivergent job seekers – so that’s exactly what I did at our most recent Office Hours Virtual Q&A, where we talked about resumes, CVs, and cover letters.

Below, I’ll recap the biggest lessons I shared during our hour-long session. Read on!

1. Spend your energy wisely.

This is lesson number one for a reason. A lot of the career advice out there is based on the idea that you shouldn’t let any opportunities pass you by, because any of them could lead to a valuable job, relationship, etc.

But this doesn’t work for neurodivergent professionals because we have limited amounts of energy. “Hustling” in our job hunt is more likely to lead to burnout than success.

That’s why it’s important for you to acknowledge that your energy is a precious and finite resource, and that you need to spend it conservatively and strategically.

So no, you shouldn’t send your resume to every job posting you find, because they are more than likely not worth your time. Your goal should be on getting the highest return possible for the energy you invest in your job hunt.

That brings us to lesson number two…

2. Get specific on your target job.

The best way to ensure you are spending your energy wisely during your job hunt is getting super clear on the type of work you are looking to get.

As neurodivergent professionals, we have a lot of strengths and limitations to consider when it comes to work. Not every type of job is going to serve us well. So setting your work standards and boundaries early on will help you filter out the types of jobs that won’t be worth your time.

Think of it this way: you don’t want to spend hours of time on a job opportunity only to discover a dealbreaker you could have identified early on. But you can’t spot red flags if you don’t know what you’re looking for.

If you want to get clear on your career goals, I highly recommend watching my training video, “How to Build a Sustainable Work Life & Break the Neurodivergent Burnout Cycle”.

Once you have a specific target job in mind, it’ll become a lot easier to submit applications because you won’t need to tailor each document as much. Think about it: if you’re only applying for marketing jobs, then the content of your resume and cover letter will change very little from application to application.

Now that’s efficiency!

3. Know your goal: Land an interview.

You may think that a strong job application will land you the job you want. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Resumes, CVs, and cover letters have nothing to do with getting you a job, and everything to do with getting you an interview.

Why is this distinction important? We often put so much weight on crafting the perfect application because we think it’ll make or break our chances of getting the opportunity. But really, a successful application’s only job is to pique the interest of the recruiter or hiring manager enough to get them to contact you for a follow up interview.

So the next time you’re sitting frozen in front of your computer trying to will yourself to write the perfect resume, adjust your expectations and recognize that the stakes aren’t that high. Take it one step at a time!

4. Consider the experience of the employer.

As the great Maya Angelou once said, “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”

Now, you might be wondering how you can get an employer to feel anything by submitting a digital record of your professional experiences, but you might be surprised how much impact you can have.

Recruiters and hiring managers are busy people, so you want to associate the experience of reading your resume with positive feelings. This can include:

  • An intuitive and easy to read layout. They should be able to find the information they’re looking for easily without struggling. They should not lose their place when reading due to layout issues, spacing, errors, etc.
  • Related keywords. Seeing keywords in your application that reflect the job posting and their mental image of the role will help them connect you with the position subconsciously. (It also helps make your resume ATS friendly!)
  • Visually appealing. You don’t need design software to create a visually appealing resume. Use a professional and easy to read font, like Helvetica or Verdana. If you want, use a pop of colour on the headers to draw the eye.
  • Use formatting options. Don’t be afraid to use “bold” or “italics” to help the important parts of your resume stand out. This can also make it more skimmable. You can also embed hyperlinks (sparingly, of course) – for instance, a link to your online portfolio or your Linkedin profile.

5. When in doubt, leave it out.

You’re more likely to get judged on what you include on your resume rather than what you leave off it.

Remember that your resume or CV’s job is to pique the interest of the hiring manager or recruiter and help them visualize you in the role you’re applying for. If they see that you are mostly a fit for the role, but they want to clarify details or ask about missing information, they’ll call you for an interview or screening.

This is a good thing! Because once you are in direct contact with the employer, you have more influence over their perspective and decision making. You’ll be able to address anything that might be of concern to them. So when in doubt, leave it out!

Watch the full video recording below.

Are you neurodivergent and burnt out at work?

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