Hyperfocus Hour: The Impact of ADHD in Work and Life 

Jon Wakefield, Consultant at Via Resource and Simon Monaghan, Founder of Odd Shoes discuss their experiences with ADHD as recruiters, including struggles with impulsiveness, inattentiveness, and prioritising tasks. They also discuss the challenges of being spontaneous and the guilt that comes with having ADHD. Simon shares their structured approach to generating and refining ideas, as well as their experiences with neurodiverse candidates in the workplace. Emphasising the importance of understanding and accommodating individual differences, and discussing their unique approach to helping candidates prepare for interviews through personalised microsites. They also discuss how ADHD has impacted their career, including difficulty with listening and interrupting others, having many ideas but struggling to follow through on them, and leaving jobs. They advise others with ADHD to be transparent about their job history on LinkedIn and explain why they left each position. With also touching on rejection sensitivity dysphoria (RSD) and suggests ways to make the hiring process more bearable for neurodivergent individuals.

Points highlighted in this episode:

    1. Encourage open communication and support from employers for neurodiverse individuals in the workplace. 
    2. Consider a structured approach to generating and refining ideas to combat the negative aspects of ADHD. 
    3. Prioritize quality over quantity in the recruitment process and work closely with clients to understand their needs. 
    4. Be transparent about job history on LinkedIn and explain reasons for leaving each position. 
    5. Take responsibility for one’s actions and avoid blaming others, especially in job interviews. 

Overview Of Podcast

    • Introduction & your ADHD tax 
      • 5.45 What does your normal workday look like? 
      • 40.46 Neurodiversity for candidates with hiring managers 
      • 58:26 Microsites for Candidates 
      • 01:14:16 Biggest impact ADHD has on a professional career 
      • 01:27:52 Rejection, Sensitivity, Dysphoria 

About Our Host Jon And Guest Simon

Jon Wakefield, Consultant at Via Resource

Jon joined Via Resource with a year of recruitment experience in the Cyber Security market, where he specialises in Security Engineering and DFIR.

Having placed candidates from Senior Manager Security Engineering to mid-level in highly regulated industries such as finance; Jon has built a comprehensive understanding of both candidate and client needs and addresses each role, and person, on an individual basis to find the perfect fit.

As an avid Star Wars fan, you will often see or hear Jon making connections and references to cyber security. Jon has ADHD and is an avid supporter of neurodivergent talent in the workplace.

Simon Monaghan, founder of Odd Shoes

Simon spent his adult life bouncing around sales jobs, promoting house music and singing in bands. He knew he had a problem with being distracted, distracting others and struggling to listen and focus; it wasn’t until he got into recruitment at age 35 that he realised that he couldn’t continue not taking life seriously and meeting his potential, so he got diagnosed. 

That diagnosis changed everything, and structure/organisation became the platform he stood on, building a reputation in recruitment until he set up his own company at the beginning of COVID-19 in 2020, intending to change tech recruitment one hire at a time.  

Now happily married and living in France, he’s made serious steps towards his lofty goals.


Introduction & your ADHD tax

Jon: Welcome to Hyper Focus Hour. This is a podcast dedicated to ADHD, nero and neurodiversity in the workplace, where myself and wonderfully talented people such as Simon here attempt to navigate and build tools for neurodivergent, people in tech, cybersecurity and anything else to help, basically help them succeed in building a successful career.  I’m Jon, I’m a cybersecurity consultant with a year and a half of experience in security, operations, digital forensics and incident response. And I have ADHD primarily in attentive. This podcast is brought to you by myself, obviously, and by a resource which is a specialist information cybersecurity recruitment agency which operate in the UK, Europe, US and Middle East. Today we have Simon Monahan as a guest on the show. Simon is a software development recruiter who, like me, obviously also has ADHD and has extensive experience navigating the tech and recruitment industries from a neurodivergent perspective. So Simon, welcome to Hyperfocus Hour. I’m really excited for our conversation today on rejection sensitivity dysphoria, what that means for ADHD and how that translates into a professional context. But before we get started, I have one question for you. ADHD text, do you know what that is?  

Simon: I think so. Like a financial implication of having ADHD. Financial implication?  

Jon: Yeah. Or even just you went into a different room to get something and you did five other things before you actually did the thing you meant to do. So my question is, what was your most recent ADHD tax? Whether that was yesterday or in the last week.  

Simon: Yeah. I would say that there’s two things that I can think of. So number one is just being impulsive. So I’ve got this like. In recruitment, I want to be as efficient as possible. And I’m always kind of attracted by the shiny new thing, whether that be AI tech or whatever. Things are going to help me to be more efficient. So impulsiveness costs me quite a lot because what I would do is I’d see this tool. I get this daily email from this guy called Superhuman, which is basically just an AI daily email about the latest things that are happening. So he’ll send me stuff and I’ll then go on and I’ll be like these three tools every day that he sends that I could use. So I’ll be like going on there going, oh, that looks really good. I can see that. That would be great for me. So I’ll book a demo or whatever and then when it actually comes to the demo, about half an hour before, I’m like, I don’t feel like I really need this, but because I was so excited and impulsive about it. So that costs me time in that whole setting up and canceling and actually sometimes doing the demo, then starting with the product, getting used to it, and then after a while realizing actually I don’t need that. And sometimes I give equal weight to what I call money making activities. Things that are really like the biggest impact on my business, like phoning candidates or doing business development. And I give equal weight to that as I do posting on social media and replying to every single comment and, you know, or anything really. Like, you know, these demos, for instance. And I worked I worked out actually based on the ADHD tax, like. If I spend 30 minutes a day on stuff like this, I worked out exactly what that cost me in terms of my billings based on the last year and whatnot. And it would cost me 19,000 pounds a year just to spend 30 minutes a day on tasks that aren’t money making tasks.  

Jon: Wow.  

Simon: If I waste 30 minutes a day, it’s 19,000 pounds a year for my business.  

Jon: That’s crazy. In some businesses, 19,000 pounds isn’t a lot, but well, I mean, it is. But for yourself, that’s a decent amount of money that you’re kind of costing yourself just by doing these tasks, isn’t it?  

Simon: But you know what the worst thing about it is? That even though I know that it does that yeah, I can’t control myself. Even though I’m diagnosed ADHD and I take tablets every day, I still can’t stop myself from being impulsive and not prioritizing as well as I could. I’m working on it every day. But it’s a challenge.  

Jon: Yeah. And that’s one of the things with ADHD, isn’t it? We have our medication and we can have the tools and the buffers, if you will, to kind of build around ourselves so that we remain productive. But there’s only so much that it can do. There’s only so much it can really do. The ADHD still comes through, regardless of whether we want to or not. It’s just who we are.  

Simon: Exactly. Yeah. It’s annoying, but yes, it’s what it is.  

Jon: Speaking of this, the money making activities, the 30 minutes a day, the the 19,000 pounds a year, when you look at your day with someone with ADHD who’s also a recruiter, who also recruits in tech, what does a normal workday look for you look like for you? 

5.45 What does your normal workday look like?

Simon: Well, for me, I mean. I have, I have a really, really I have to have a really, really strict day plan and it’s like so intricate and detailed that I have everything mapped out in my day. So I have different tasks together. Like these are resourcing tasks, these are business development tasks, these are admin tasks. And I open each one up on Monday.com, which is like my operating system for my business. I couldn’t live without that. And then it will have maybe ten or 15 tasks that I follow through in my process for that. So something that I’m trying to do now is theme my days because what I was doing is I was doing admin, then resourcing candidates in the morning and then in the afternoon trying to fit business development in. But by 3:00pm, all of my desire for doing a new task, it’s burnt out. So some days I would get to 3:00pm and I’m like, right, business development now and I’d end up just going home because I’d feel like I can’t start a brand new task. So what I’m doing now, which rightly or wrongly is starting to be better for me, is just right. Today is a resourcing day. The only thing I’m going to do is focus on candidate resourcing and obviously your day to day admin tasks. I’m obsessed with being efficient with my time. And the problem that that raises is that sometimes I spend so much time and thinking about how I can be more efficient or what tools I can implement or maybe more efficient. The time it takes to research and understand and all of that actually makes me less efficient. 

Jon: Yeah, you’ve lost efficiency. Like you were saying earlier, you’ve lost money by doing kind of the impulse. Yeah, I know what you mean. I go into the office normally about once a week, trying to go in about two days a week now. And when I started doing this, I told myself, okay, Wednesdays when I go into the office, that’s a business development day for me. So all day I’m going to focus on researching companies, researching roles, chasing leads, emailing, hiring managers, ta people, really trying to just nail that down. So I’m kind of doing something similar to what you’re doing. So I do that on Wednesdays. But then, for example, before we started this episode, probably about half an hour, maybe 45 minutes ago, I sat at my desk. I went home today, and I was thinking, I don’t know what to do because I have this I just got stuck with that ADHD paralysis, and I was like, I know I have things to do. I know I have work to do, but I’m not sure how to do it or what to do because I didn’t have that structure in kind of my diary. So I was just like, I don’t know what to do now.  

Simon: Well, I track absolutely everything that I’m doing, and I have a process for every single facet of what I do. So for me, it’s kind of taking the thinking out of it, the paralysis, like you’re saying, and just being like, right, okay, today is that day. I just follow that process come, and that works. And it’s a constant refining, always looking to refine it. The other thing as well, I think, is I’m so focused on having a plan for everything, I struggle with being spontaneous. And it affects my relationship at home and stuff. Obviously my wife understands, and as much as anyone who hasn’t got ADHD can understand, she understands. But I actually have to plan to be spontaneous, which is like, yeah.  

Jon: I understand it. I used to think that I was I was spontaneous as well. And what was it like when I started dating my girlfriend and we would do kind of the occasional spontaneous thing, but it would cause me a lot of stress because I wouldn’t know exactly what we were doing or where we were going and I couldn’t plan it out. So then I started to do what you were saying, like started planning the spontaneous things and she’s wonderful with it. She rides the waves. Some days we do do something spontaneous, but most of the time it’s planned out a week or two in advance and that’s the only way I can do it. I have to know when it’s going to happen, who’s going to be there, where we’re going to be as much as I can. 

Simon: When the plan changes. That’s what I hate. I’ll go home from work on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. Right now for me, I get home from work, we have dinner, maybe I’ll play a couple of games of FIFA and then we’ll have dinner with the family and then I’ll walk the dogs. And I have kind of a rough routine in my head and sometimes my wife will say, why don’t we go out for dinner? I’m like, inside, obviously I’ll go with it, but inside I’m like, this is my routine. No, that’s not what we do on a Tuesday or a Wednesday. And it drives me crazy. And I know it drives her crazy a little bit as well because she’d like it to be a little less. Structured, and I’m trying to work on that again. It’s hard.  

Jon: When that happens, like, when your routine changes, do you feel rejected? That your routine. How do you feel in that moment?  

Simon: Just feel like, God, why doesn’t she understand that I can’t handle that and it’s not her fault? Like, it annoys it annoys me that I even think these thoughts, but in my head, I’m like, God’s sake. For example, when I’m working during the day, sometimes she’ll just come into the office while I’m working and I’m in the flow, and then she’ll come in just for a kiss because she works in the office upstairs.  

Jon: Right. 

Simon: And I should just love that. And I’m trying hard to try and do it, but I know that in my head, like, I’m just like, oh, my God, why she done that? Does she not understand that I’ve got ADHD and now that’s going to take me 5-10 minutes to get back into the brain space that I need to be in? And she know I’ve talked to her about it, and it’s horrible having to have that conversation. So now I tried to take control of that by me being the one who goes upstairs and interrupts her to give her a kiss and then goes back down, because then I took control of that as opposed to her. It’s annoying. I feel like one of the biggest things with ADHD is I never feel really, truly understood by anybody. I have this conscious battle between what I know is the right thing to do for a normal person and the way I react.  

Jon: Yeah. Do you feel like when. Speak to other ADHD or neurodivergent people, do you feel like they understand you a little bit better?  

Simon: You know what? I actually don’t know if I do, because one of the traits of ADHD, especially in my life, is not really thinking so much about what the other person feels or is thinking in, because all you’re concerned about is what you’re thinking. Like your thoughts are the most important thing in the world, which is not right. Yeah, obviously, I know that people with ADHD should be able to understand me more, but I don’t really think about it because I’m not really, sadly, not as interested in how they feel about it, which, again, goes completely against how I actually want to be.  

Jon: Yeah, no, I honestly understand that. I’m very similar when I know someone else’s ADHD. And it’s difficult as well, because ADHD is is such a it’s it’s on such a spectrum. Like, it can it can manifest. You can have symptoms that manifest in so many different ways. Like, one of my closest friends has ADHD as well. Well, he’s he’s primarily hyperactive. I’m primarily inattentive. So the way we are with our ADHD is it’s totally different now. There are times where he does something or he says something, and I’m like, okay, I do genuinely understand that. But at the same time, when I talk to him about my issues with ADHD or I talk to other people about it, I have that same feeling of, why don’t they get it? I’m not that person. It’s so interesting that we can all have you and me, we have ADHD. And we’re both diagnosed with it, but we’ve both had so vastly different experiences with it that we still feel like no one understands us, even though there’s other people that should actually be able to better understand it than most others. It’s a very interesting thing.  

Simon: Yeah, I agree. I’ve got a double whammy of the hyperactivity as well. So my wife’s got two daughters and they absolutely love it because in the morning at 07:00 A.m., I’ll be putting music on and I’ll be doing silly dances with them and all that sort of stuff. Like I’m just a child. Yeah. And that must be really tiring for my wife as well, because she’s literally got three children. I mean, don’t get me wrong, there are upsides to being my wife. I have got a lot of positives, but there are things that you have to have an understanding partner to have ADHD, I think. And I just carry around so much guilt about everything that I kind of forcing people to live through all of the downsides of it. I’m forcing them to handle those things. I just feel constantly guilty, I guess.  

Jon: Yeah, it’s like imposter syndrome or just like yeah, maybe guilt was the right word. Because a lot of people, I mean, if they start dating, especially if it’s a romantic relationship, like your wife or my girlfriend or something. My girlfriend didn’t know hardly anything about ADHD before we started dating, so she had to learn kind of on the fly, everything about it. And at the same time, I, even though I had the diagnosis, didn’t know much about it as well. So we’re both learning together and very similar. There’s so many moments where. Um, this it’s kind of silly, but at the same time, it’s, I think, emphasize it quite well. If there’s, like, a bag of, like, chips crisps, right? If I if I’m holding the bag and my girlfriend wants a handful, she’ll put her hand in the bag, and to this day, I cannot tell you why. I do think it’s ADHD, though. As soon as her hand goes into the bag, even if the bag is in my hand, the bag ceases to exist. It’s like, okay, your hands in the bag, it just stops existing for me. So what happens? The bag of crisps just falls to the floor. It’s funny. It is funny, but at the same time, it’s so frustrating for her because she’s like, why can’t you just hold the bag? And I’m like, Because it just no longer exists for me. I’m done. My brain is like, no, this is in the nowhere space now. But that’s one of those things of, like it’s a small example, right? But it’s an example of she has to deal with that every time she wants to eat some crisps. But there’s bigger examples of, what if I hand her a wine glass and the wine glass breaks? Because as soon as contact was made, even if she’s not holding it, as soon as contact is even gently made, I’m just like, no, I’m done. My brain is like, It’s out of there. Yeah, that guilt you have for putting people through that when they don’t fully know what they’re getting themselves into. And then they’re like, I’m here now. It’s really challenging.  

Simon: And they can never really well, you feel like they can never really understand it the way that you do. But I also think sometimes I wonder how many behaviors in my life that. I excuse with ADHD as well, if we’re being honest, there’s sometimes where I’m like, well, that’s down to the ADHD, the way I am there, and I wonder whether it becomes a bit of a crutch for me sometimes, as if you’re over kind of justifying why you do the way things the way that you do. I mean, there’s obvious stuff, isn’t there? Like inattentivity and inattentiveness sorry, yeah, needing to be constantly stimulated, for example, I can’t just sit there in silence and I’m like, right, okay, I need to put CD on or I need to put some music on, or I need to put my game on or whatever, I need something I wonder if that happens.  

Jon: You’re on medication as well, aren’t you?  

Simon: Yeah.  

Jon; When you come off your meds, do you have a comedown?  

Simon: I don’t watch them. We talked about this, right?  

Jon: Yes.  

Simon: You let yourself not have them at the weekend? I’ve not allowed myself to do that yet because I don’t want to put my family through, or my wife at least, because the kids love it, but I don’t want to put my wife through whatever comes from it. I’m a bit worried to do it, but I said to her that I want to try it one day and she said, it’s okay, but I don’t know what I’m going to be like you.  

Jon: Yeah. So I was thinking about this as you were talking, because most weekends I take my meds, like we’ve just discussed previously, kind of in a research for this episode, sometimes I don’t take my meds, but because of that. Let’s say I take my meds at seven or eight seven or eight in the morning, right? Usually about four or 05:00 p.m.. Although the meds are still my system on a workday, their effectiveness kind of wanes because it’s a stimulant, of course, and I don’t take them. 24/7. Kind of like yourself. Yeah. So what happens if especially if I’m if I have low blood sugar or if I’m not hydrated, I get quite I can sometimes get a really bad comedown, effectively, where that causes irritability. Just maybe a headache sometimes or something like that. And that’s one of those. Coming back to what you were talking about a second ago. Surely there have been times, and I can’t think of any recently, but I know for a fact there have been times where I’ve just genuinely been in a bad mood and I haven’t wanted to talk to my girlfriend. Not because I’m mad at her, I’m just not in a good mood. And then she’s like, what’s wrong? And I’m like, oh, come down from the meds.  

Simon: It can come from nothing as well. Sometimes I’ll go home from work, I’ve had a good day. Probably today will be one of those days. I’ve had a really good day yesterday. I had a good day. So I go home and have dinner. Everything’s good. Good mood, nothing to complain about. And then the later he gets, my wife might say something like, I’m ready to watch something because I’m done talking now. And she’s like, Is it okay if I put billions on? Because we’re watching that together and I can see in. She’s like, can’t we just not for a bit. I start to get wound up about it. And the later it gets that she tries to force me into a non stimulating situation. The later it gets in the evening, the more irritable I get, and. Absolutely hate it because I can’t control it. And I’m always a morning person as well. So I have my meds at like 06:00 a.m.. So I have like, concerta. I don’t know what you’re on, but I have concerta. I have 54 milligram of that in the morning before work. And I’m always like proper motivated in the so I always do, always do really well. I work quickly. I do the gym in the morning. But if I say to myself, I’m going to do gym at 04:00 p.m., doesn’t happen. I have to have another small what is it, an 18 milligram at lunchtime. Just to top me up, right?  

Jon: Yeah. I’m a total opposite. I’m definitely a night person. I start working about 8.30/9am most days. And if I’m working from home, I don’t roll out of bed until 08:00 every morning, every single night. Tell myself I’m going to wake up in the morning, I’m going to go for a run. And what happens? Without fail, 07:00, a.m. Alarm goes off and I’m like, no, not doing that, I’m going to sleep another hour. But on the flip side, if I wanted to go for a run after work, like 05:00 or something, that wouldn’t be an issue. I’m much more of an evening person. I find the productivity, especially my work day, is with the ADHD. My brain is very slow in the morning. So as the day goes on, by about 1130 noon, that’s when I really start to kick in. So I usually do an early lunch, like 11:00 a.m., and then just work from like noon to five or six.  

Simon: I’m getting you at your best and you’re getting me at my worst right now. It’s welcome. Yeah.  

Jon: It’s it’s it’s interesting as well, because, like, you know, you were you were talking about low dope, like low dopamine tasks. You know how we were talking about that a few minutes ago? How do we combat that? And you split your day up. You say, I’m going to do this all day for one day. Because you do that. You might do, let’s say, business development all Tuesday, right?  

Simon: Yeah.  

Jon: That gets repetitive after a while. We both know it does. And it gets boring. What do you do in those instances where that repetitive task is no longer fulfilling? To make it more interesting.  

Simon: Yeah, to make it more interesting. So what I would do is I would drink a lot of Diet Coke to keep me going, but by the afternoon, I’d crash and I’d end up finishing early. So to get past that thing and I still struggle with drinking energy drinks now, but I drink Monster now. But two years ago, I was talking to a coach. I don’t know whether she’s a life coach or whatever. Anyway, she she did this NLP thing with me where she she got she read this script and kind of like we went through this thing and she made me associate Diet Coke with the worst thing that I had during childhood, which was eating Sprouts on a Sunday at my mom’s. And she made me imagine what it was like when I was eating Sprouts and how I’d feel and blah, blah, blah. And then she linked it to Diet Coke. Honestly, since I had that in LP and I’m not into all that kind of woo woo type stuff like that, but honestly, I’ve never drank Diet Coke since. Not once? Yeah. Two years. And it just stopped that day. I couldn’t believe it. So part of me thinks I should try to do it. Again for other things, like drinking Monster energy drinks and stuff like that. But, yeah, I guess the dopamine thing, I mean, a good example of how that affected me is sometimes I feel like I need it to really matter before it kicks me into action. And last year, I got married and went on my honeymoon. And I’d build, like, 140K by the end of April, which for me was like me heading towards, like 300 plus, which was good. So I was like, yeah, wedding, honeymoon, traveling across America. And by the end of May, all my roles had dried up, and I needed new clients. So it was absolutely crucial for me to do business development. But doing business development was such a big thing because I’d not needed to for about four years, because all clients had come to me and my reputation was good and blah, blah, blah. So I just kept putting it off, kept putting it off. I see it as this really massive thing, and I was worried about it, so I put it off to the last possible moment in August, which was breaking point for the business, breaking point for me personally, and I ended up managing to salvage it. And I’m going through a similar thing now again, but I’m getting through it a bit better now. But it was almost like I felt like I needed the verge of before my desire and my hunger actually kicked in. I guess what I’m saying is all of the individual tasks that I do apart from writing, because I love writing it’s. They are boring, repetitive tasks, and they’re hard to stimulate myself. So I used to be in sales until nine years ago, and it was a very one dimensional role. Like, here’s a script, here’s a list of people to call bang, read the script, do the objections. And it was just I was good at it, but it was very one dimensional. So recruitment interested me because it had so many different areas to it. So now I’m not just a salesperson. Sales is one area of it. I’m a recruiter, I’m a CV coach, I’m a psychologist, I’m a marketer, I’m a data analyst, all of those different things in one job. So I saw that as a way of being more stimulated. I have loads of ideas on how to improve recruitment, so I work on those quarterly to keep the creativity levels high. I listen to music all day in the office while I’m working. I guess the way that I get past it is that when the days get boring, I try to find the stimulation and how can I find the stimulation is I try to understand the bigger reasons for what I do, so they’re the things I find stimulating. So for me, my big reasons for what I do is I want to help people escape something bad in their role or help them find something that they’re reaching for that helps to fill them. I want to find ways to lead by example and improve the image that tech recruiters have. I want to help other recruiters to be better at what they do and. You know, I want because there’s recruiters out there who have got bosses who aren’t giving them the right information. So they they look externally to people like me to to help them to understand better ways that they’re not maybe getting the training or some of them want to start their own business. And for me, that’s really rewarding because I’m helping them to improve recruitment. Because when they do start the business, they’re going to do it in a better way than they did before. Those are real drivers. I don’t want to go back to being poor and living on a council estate like I used to when I was growing up. I want to make my family proud of me and proud of the person I am and proud of what I do.  

Jon: That’s a big one as well.  

Simon: Yeah. So if I’ve got all of these strong whys that really identify with me as a person? The boring work, like spending an hour looking for 100 CVS to find the gold, that’s just part of the process for me getting to the bigger whys of why I do what I do. I don’t actually worry about the minutiae of what I do because they’re just linking into the bigger reasons of why I’m here and what I’m trying to achieve. So I don’t find the task stimulating, but I find the bigger picture stimulating.  

Jon: That’s really admirable that one, that you do that in the way that you do it, that you do it for so many different reasons. But two, I imagine it’s got to be quite difficult because from my perspective, at least from my personal experience and from other people I’ve talked to, looking at that big picture, looking at kind of the end goal, if you will, or the long term kind of goal seems to be. Quite difficult for ADHD people to be able to look at and say, I’ve got a project that’s due in a year from now. This is what I need to do to be able to be successful in the project in a year. So the fact that you’re able to look at those big whys and say, this is what I need to do on a day to day basis or on a weekly basis, quarterly basis, break that down and use that as the fuel that you need to make those low dopamine tasks. Not necessarily more fun, but bearable. It’s really intuitive, at least as far as I’m aware. It seems to be very intuitive, very unique way of doing it, which doesn’t shock me at all, considering ADHD people are very unique and out of the box thinking, but it definitely combats some of the negatives that we have and actually turns them into strengths.  

Simon: Yeah, I didn’t see it as out of the box thinking because we do think about things differently. We think we do. I’m not in other people’s brains, so I don’t know whether that’s actually true. But I feel like I do think differently to a lot of people and the ideas I have. But for me to do that, I have to be really structured. Like we said earlier, all of my wise, I couldn’t have just come up with those. I had to have a structured way of looking at that for me to get to that. So it wasn’t just like, AHA, there’s an idea of why I do what I do. It was like somebody sat down with me and went, why do you do what you do? Answer these questions about what you want to do. And it was in year one of we setting up this business, 2020. And I didn’t know at the time. I just wanted more freedom and more money. That was why I set up the business. But then as soon as he had this conversation with me about my why and it made me think about actually, yeah, f***, I’ve got all of these reasons of why I want to do. I want to be like David taking on Goliath. I want to kind of help my industry. I want to I want to make my family proud. All of these different things that we just talked about. And as soon as it had a structured way of looking at that, then I’ve always been about like, you find your goal, you build your process and you work your way back and then you constantly refine it. And that’s just become so part of my identity now that these ideas, or whatever you want to call them, just second nature for me. I have a process for new ideas. So as soon as I have a little idea, I put it into a process. And I’ve got, like, probably 50 different things that I want to do in recruitment or in my business. But it’s all in a structured process of when I’m going to approach those things and what I’ll look at each every quarter.  
I’ll go away for two or three days, and I’ll just be constantly like, right, this is my creative time to focus on new ideas. I’ll look at what needs priority, what’s going to excite me the most, what’s going to make the biggest impact, and then I’ll just work through the process of that idea.  

Jon: Yeah. And I assume working through that process also helps weed out the ideas that you thought were initially really good ideas and have turned, you know, after after going through the process a little bit, it’s it’s literally process of elimination for some of them, isn’t it? Yeah. We’re like, oh, this actually isn’t as good of an idea as I initially thought. Yeah.  

Simon: So they end up just being like this big mood board of ideas, all in different categories, like business development ideas. Candidate qualification, ideas, whatever. And then if I have one idea, what I typically do is I’ll be at home, I’ll have an idea, or I’ll see something that sparks an idea, I’ll send myself an email with the idea. Then the next day, I will put it into my processes, and then it just stays there. And then when it gets to the point where I actually look at those ideas is bank, then I’ll go, that shit. Actually, I don’t agree with that.  
Now, like you say, it just eliminates the crap. Or sometimes that crap helps you to get to a better idea. 

Jon: This goes into I don’t know if you were taught this when you were starting out in recruitment, but there’s that old adage of process. Process just always follow the process and recruitment. Like, start with the candidate process, with the business development process, with just putting things into your CRM. Or when you’re rejecting people or accepting people under, like, the ATS or something, there’s always a process that you need to follow. So it’s really cool to see that you’ve not just taken that perspective to heart, but that you’ve made it work in a way that works for you. It’s just really cool to see that. Yeah. I don’t know. It’s making me want to go out after our episode is done to sit down and be like, now I need a process because I’ve been struggling in a lot of these areas. I very much have this what’s what I’m looking for, my process, if you will, is to brute force things. 

Simon:  Yeah, okay.  

Jon: So it’s the same thing for video games or if I’m building an Ikea table.  

Simon: I can’t do that. Yes, I can. But I’m exactly the same. Brute force it. And then. I’ve done three quarters, and I’m like, Shit, I’ve got to go all the way back to this point because I didn’t read the instructions properly.  

Jon: I’m just like, no, I’m just going to hammer it anyways. But it’s the same thing. Like, if it’s a video game or if it’s Ikea furniture, if it’s my process for business development, or, God, if I get lost in London or something, am my phone’s not my phone is rarely ever dead. But let’s say it was, I would just pick a direction and say, this is the general direction I need to go. Probably isn’t. But I will just try and brute force it just because I am just unwilling to take no for an answer. It’s like, no, I will make this work. And with video games, most of the time that works. But with puzzle games like Zelda and stuff, not really. But with business development and with work, it gets so tiring because you get to a point where trying to brute force it, you’re just getting closed doors. Every time you send an email where you call someone, they’re like, no. And then you get that RSD, that rejection sensitivity, dysphoria and then you’re like, I don’t know how much more rejection I can take.  

Simon: Yeah, I know what you mean.  

40.46 Neurodiversity for candidates with hiring managers

Jon: Yeah. It’s a tough one. But with that process, when you have different when you have different ideas, if we turn it to just kind of back to ADHD in the workplace and everything, when you get in that process, let’s say with a candidate and they get rejected, or if a candidate ghosts you, how do you deal with that?  

Simon: Talking about candidates that ghost me, I take it really personally because I feel like I treat. Every candidate with complete respect. I provide them with a lot of information, microsites. I only work with clients, I believe, that offer a great environment. I’m very strict with that, which is why I’ve only got six clients right now. And I believe that I’m not like the the recruiters, the other 90% that everyone complains about. So why should they ghost me? 

Like, why ghost me? It really upsets me because I feel like I give so much to the industry, but they don’t know that, and they’re just ghosting a recruiter as far as they’re concerned. But in my head, I’m like, don’t you know what I do for the industry? Don’t you know, all the effort that I make? Can I take it personally? Yeah, definitely. Luckily, it doesn’t happen that often, but in the last year, it’s probably ramped up a little bit, I’d say.  

Jon: Yeah. I remember when I first started, I’ve been doing this for close yeah, just almost two years now, year and a half. And I remember when I first started, I was getting ghosted left and right, obviously, because I was working for a big agency, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing, and call candidates and call them, call them, blah, blah, blah. They never responded. And it was the same thing. I was like and I just remember thinking, why are they ghosting me? I’m trying to help them. I’m trying to get them a new job, like, trying to make their lives better. Why are they not interested? What have I done?  

Simon: And what have I done? Classic thing that goes through your ad in it.  

Jon: Yeah. What have I done? And how can I learn from that? And I would like to say that I, as a recruiter, don’t ghost anymore, but I know for a fact. There is the odd person, probably one in 50, maybe one in 60 that I reach out to, and they just slip through the cracks. So it’s one of those as well. I take it personally, but with that one in 50 or one in 60 that I forget to get back to, how do I justify that to myself of, like, how can I be upset? It’s just having it’s just having the process, though, isn’t it? Like, if you have a process in place to make sure that you never let somebody slip through the cracks. Yeah, that’s not candidates ghosting you, though, is it?  

Jon: I kind of sidetracked on that one. I’m not entirely sure where I was going with that. 

Simon: All right. When I’ve dealt with neurodiverse candidates, what I’ve noticed is they tend to be very structured and very clear on how they need things to be in the interview process or beginning the job. And when I’ve kind of put somebody across because I’ve got ADHD, I’m like the champion for neurodiverse candidates, and rightly or wrongly, sometimes I’m too honest with the clients and I’m like, look, this guy’s got ADHD, and these are the ways that it affects his job. But these are all the positives. And I think some clients see it as a little bit overwhelming or that people might be hard to manage, which isn’t fair, because I look through all of the reckon, mandations, that they’ve got from ex employers and stuff. And yeah, of course they’re going to be distracted, of course they’re going to be like they’re going to have stuff that they need from a hiring manager. And sometimes I just think hiring managers, they don’t want to. And officially, you’re not really allowed to say stuff like that, but obviously I hear the unofficial versions and it really pisses me off, to be honest with you. I say to clients sometimes one of the things I said to a client who’s no longer a client now, for this reason, I said, why are you rejecting this person just because they’ve got ADHD? Do you know that the recruiter that you’ve been working with for four years, who’s made all these placements has got ADHD too, and you’ve not struggled with that, have you? I know it can be a pain in the ass sometimes, but I get results. And the answer was, Well, I understand that, but we had somebody recently who caused a bit of a problem with the culture and stuff, so we’re really worried to bring in anyone in at the moment like that, and you just hear all the bullshit reasons and you’re just like, that’s just bullshit. What I hate more than anything is that when I know that their real reason for not hiring someone is because they’re autistic or they’ve got ADHD or whatever and they don’t say that, I’d rather they were honest with me and I can handle that than them just go, yeah, we like them. We could see that they’d be really good, but they’re just not very structured in this area. Or we just don’t think they’ll fit into the culture. They don’t think we’ll fit into the culture? What does that mean? Like, really intelligent sort of person who can do the work of three developers in one that needs a little bit of understanding and management. I said to one client once, that’s on you. That’s your failing. That’s not on them. The reason you’re rejecting them is because of you. You’re not good enough. Or. Open enough to actually learning what you need to learn about people with neurodiversity. And he actually said, yeah, you’re probably right. I’m sorry, but that’s the way it is. 

Jon: That’s the way it is.  

Simon: Yeah, that’s the way it is. That’s not private anymore.  

Jon: Yeah. I don’t even know how I would have responded to that. That’s the way it is.  

Simon: But these are the things that I have to shield my neurodiverse candidates from, of course, in software development, like, one of my clients who’s got ADHD, actually, who’s head of development, I’ve been working with him for five years. We’re friends. He came to my wedding last year, and he said to me, honestly, I’d probably say as much as 40, 45% of the people that we have on our dev team have got some form of neurodiversity. Yeah. And I’ve actually said that to clients. I’m like, God, if I had to call the people who’ve got neurodiversities out of your team, you’d probably have asked the team that you’ve got.  

Jon: And that is the same thing. It’s the exact same thing in cybersecurity as well, which absolutely it doesn’t baffle me for tech at all that a very large chunk of people are neurodiverse. What baffles me about it, especially for yourself in your industry and then for cybersecurity, is you get these companies that, let’s say, at CISO level or CTO level, at these senior levels, either they are neurodiverse but don’t have the diagnosis and aren’t aware, or they aren’t neurodiverse and they want to run this portion of the company. They’re their tech portion of the company, like it’s just a normal kind of sales or accounts or HR or something, when, let’s face it, yeah, we’re all different. And then in cybersecurity. A lot of these people are on the autism spectrum or have ADHD, and they work better not being in the office, or they work better with tight deadlines, but they can manage their own time or they don’t XYZ you pick the accommodation. It’s there, but because it’s run by neurotypical, they don’t understand it, and then you send a neurodiverse candidate, and that’s the way it is.  

Simon: And do you know what the sad thing is? Neurodiverse people have to pretend that they’re not neurodiverse to get through the door. Yeah. And that’s a really sad thing that you’ve got to shield hiring managers from who you really are positives and negatives. If it was me and I was going for a job now, I’d honestly say, Look, I’ve got ADHD, I’m completely process driven. I don’t need you to manage me, because if you do that, that won’t go well. What I need is I need you to give me I’ll come to you with what support I need, and you give me that support. And if I feel like you’re restricting me in some way or you’re restricting my freedom in some way, or forcing me to do things that I’m not into or stimulated by, we’ll probably have a falling out, or I might not fall out of you, but internally it’ll be annoying for me. But what you’ll get in return for you understanding this is you’ll get someone who’s got the ability to completely hyper focus on a task. You’ll get someone who really cares about what they do and is their own harshest critic and really cares about the quality of what they do and. You know, I know that if you put me against a Neurotypical recruiter, I know that I’ll outperform them. But there is caveats to that, and you’ve got to understand that that’s how I would approach it. And I guess the one advantage to being like that is it’s also being a filter. Because if they can’t handle the thought of the those pros and cons right at the beginning, what’s the point in getting four or five months down the. They realize, and then they let you go because you’re too much hassle or whatever. Yeah.  

Jon: To counter that, I was having conversation about this recently, and the person I was having a conversation with basically said, and honestly, I think it’s an argument to be made. Basically the argument was, while neurodiverse people do need these accommodations, while we act differently, we think differently, and we work differently, to neurotypical people, basically the person was saying, everybody is different. Everybody is unique in different ways. So outside of neurodiversity people, you have disabled people, you have hearing impaired people, vision impaired people, et cetera, et cetera, blah, blah, blah, all of these different things. And basically the person was saying, why should neurodiverse people or ADHD get the special treatment, if you will?  

Simon: Yeah, I get that. I’ve had that conversation with because I wanted to write a guide to Neurodiversity for hiring managers. So I started talking to a few neurodiverse people that I knew and talking about on LinkedIn, and some of them was like, that’s a great idea. Like, that’d be great. And then some of them were like, why do. You treat us like everybody else. I think it was kind of 50 50 split down the middle. And I also had a conversation with women about this, and some of the women were like, there are complete prejudices to women, and we want to be treated better. And then there were some like, I don’t want any special treatment because I’m a woman. Yeah. So there isn’t a right or wrong answer, I don’t think, to this. I think what I’ve learned is it’s down to the individual. So if somebody is open and honest enough with me on the call to say, look, I’ve got neurodiversity, this is how it impacts, I will say to them, look, are you the type of person that would like to feel more comfortable and have accommodations made for you going through that process? Or are you the type of person who just wants to be treated like everybody else?  

Jon: Yeah, absolutely. And that was kind of the consensus that I came to in this other conversation, and I basically said and I now actually have what I think is a better argument against that point. But I basically said, you know what? You’re absolutely right. There are so many different things out there. There’s the gender pay gap, there’s women underrepresented in cybersecurity, and I’m sure in software as well. But while you were talking, I was thinking, well, there’s actually probably another good way of going about this for some autistic people. You can kind of see it not in everybody because it’s obviously on a spectrum, right? Yeah. But if you’re physically impaired, such as you’re blind or you have hearing AIDS or something. That’s a visible disability. It’s visible for that you need them. Whereas neurodiversity, by its very nature is an invisible disability. It’s in the brain, right. It’s neurological, hence the word. So why should we talk about it? If I were to answer that person right now, I would say we should be talking about this, not because we necessarily deserve that special treatment over other people, we should all be treated equally, obviously, but we need to talk about it a bit more because we have an invisible thing and people don’t easily see that. So if people don’t know about it and know what signs to look for, they’re not going to know what it is because it’s not someone walking down the pavement with one of those sticks that a blind person would use. Yeah. And I think that would be my answer, yeah.  

Simon: I mean, awareness is the most important thing. I really believe that and I’m neurodiverse, but I don’t understand everything about other neurodiversities and I’d like to know more. I’ve even got a book called Neurodiversity at Work behind me that I keep meaning to read, and it will be, I’ve got a list that I’m trying to get through, but I want to understand it more. And I think that desire to want to understand it is important. And a lot of hiring managers just want the easiest solution as quickly as possible, when really, like, easiest solution isn’t always the best solution. Some of the best candidates I’ve worked with are neurodiverse. There’s one of the place recently, actually, that’s like amazing. Wow. Amazing. And luckily, the client bought into it, and they hired, and it’s early days, but it looks like it’s going all right.  

Jon: On the flip side, I had a client that so I had a candidate who’s neurodiverse, and they were an exceptional candidate. I’m 26, and this guy was 25, I think 24, 25, and was already at senior level, so already a senior security engineer. He’s been in the industry for, like, four years, so he’s really, really gifted. And the client loved him. They wanted to offer him at first, they wanted to put him into different roles, and this candidate wanted to stay there at this company if all things went well for a long time, do internal progressions well, they inevitably decided not to go with him for basically ADHD reasons, if you ask me. And he is now a security architect for one of their direct competitors.  

Simon: I love that. Because then it’s a way for you to go, look, you made a mistake there. Look at what this guy is doing now. I’ve done that so many times with people who’ve been rejected, and I’ve disagreed because over time, you chip away at it, and you’re like, Right, okay, yeah, maybe you’re right, but it’s a journey for everybody. I don’t blame people for not understanding. What I blame people for is not trying, not caring, understand others 

Jon: You’re just not being inclusive of others just because they think a little bit differently.  

58:26 Microsites for Candidates

Jon: Yeah, you’ve talked before. You mentioned it very briefly a few minutes ago about microsites, and then you’ve mentioned it before, I think, in LinkedIn post. About how you build microsites for candidates so they can get more info for interviews and stuff. How did you come up with that idea?  

Simon: It’s very unique. So when I was working in an agency, I just wanted to help people to understand the interview process better and to prepare well. So what I did is I built like a PDF on canva, and I was just using that, getting information. And then when I started up my own business, I was, like, getting my website designed, and I just had this idea, like, oh my God, this could be something that would really help, because I feel really comfortable when I have a structure to follow and I understand what’s expected. I wondered whether other people might feel the same. I wasn’t necessarily thinking about neurodiverse people at that point. Steve Jobs, like, I was listening to his biography autobiography. I can’t remember which the difference is. Autobiography. But anyway, he said that he didn’t build what customers said they wanted. He never did any customer, like, research or anything like that. He always built stuff that he wanted to build that people maybe didn’t know that they wanted or needed. Because customers don’t always know what they need until it’s in front of them. So nobody asked me to build micro sites. I did it because I really believe that it would just be easier for candidates if they knew what to expect. They had good advice and they had a good understanding. I wanted to take anxiety of interviewing. If somebody knows this is what the interview is going to be like, this is everything I need to know about the company, the tech stack, everything. I’ve got no questions, no possible questions beforehand, apart from what I want to know. Yeah. So I just felt that if I did that, they could then focus only on showing their best selves at that interview. Because all of the other anxieties that people typically have, like, what types of questions am I going to get? What’s the technical test going to look like? Are they going to ask me questions that are going to trip me up? Blah, blah, blah. Remove all them and then the anxiety goes, and then you can just focus on giving you best. So it’s what I would have wanted if I was interviewing, and it’s proven to be correct. So to give you an example, I monitor my first interview, how many first interviews I have and how many of them turn into offers. 18 months ago, before I implemented this, that was actually 20.5%. So nearly one in five of my first interviews, obviously it’d be second interviews and whatnot, but one in five of my first interviews were ended up getting an offer. So just by doing this, this is the only change that I made. It’s actually 33.7% last year. So that’s gone from one in five to one in three.  

Jon: That’s incredible.  

Simon: Yeah. So it means that candidates are having higher success rates. It means that clients are not having to interview as many people to get results and everything for you. Yeah, but also the other thing is first impressions really matter. And if you think if I’m up against three other recruiters, let’s say, right, not necessarily on my role, but on other roles, and I spoke to the candidate and I’ve then gone, right, okay, here’s a micro website with everything you could possibly need to know, presented in a really cool looking way, an easy way, all just about that role. Just for. And then recruitment number two, three and four, what they do is they send the company’s job spec. Not even a proper written job advert like the job spec. And that’s it? Yeah. Which one are you going to be emotionally attached to from the beginning of the process?  

Jon: You’re going to be attached to the one that gives you the more information and that helps you the best, aren’t you, in this case is going to be yours. 

Simon:  Exactly. So when it gets to the office stage, most nine times out of ten, maybe more than that. I think it’s 94% of the time my offers are accepted, even though now my clients are competing the whole of the UK for talent. They compete with the whole of the UK and most of the time they might have 4,5,6,7 different opportunities on the go, maybe five to seven recruiters that they’re working with. But they take my job because my job is presented in a way that they understand. They feel comfortable with the interview process. Visually, it makes them happy. They feel like they’re going to be joining a good company because that company is obviously given all this information to help them.  

Jon: Yeah. Do you think this came about because of your ADHD? Because it’s a very visually, whether it’s indirectly or directly, mind you, but it’s a very visual thing if it breaks everything down, kind of like you said in your process.  

Simon: It was only recently that I realized, actually, it’s because of my ADHD at the time. I just thought it’d be a good idea because it’s what I would have wanted if I was going for interview new processes. But there was a guy called Jack who replaced a lead DevOps engineer and he’d got autism and we’ve been on a bit of a journey together because I had to understand the best way to interact with him. He sent me a two page document of. How he how basically sent to the client before he accepted the offer to give them a roadmap of the best, how to get the best out of him and how to get the worst. And I thought it was great. I mean, you can go over the top with stuff like this. I’ve had people give me five page, six page documents. I’m like, you’re going to put a client off if you do that. But a two page document, which is got humor in it, which shows your personality and also all the good parts of you. I think it was a good idea. But he wrote me a review on LinkedIn, and he said, honestly, this role understood. I felt understood by the company because of the allowances that they made for me moving into the role. I felt understood by Simon because he’s also neurodiverse, and I felt understood in terms of my autism because I needed that structured approach that Simon delivered for me to feel comfortable, a with the interview process, and B, with the job. I knew what I was walking into, and I was able to not worry about anything else but what I needed to show. And he said that that’s the first time that’s ever happened for him, and he was really grateful. And it’s heartwarming to hear that. I had a tear in my eye when he told me, because I’m an emotional guy anyway, but I had a tear in my eye, I was just like, that’s exactly why I did it. And I didn’t realize that was why I did it, but now I realize that’s why I’ve done it, for that. And it’s a happy coincidence that maybe 30, 40, 50% of my candidates will probably be just like Jack. Some won’t tell me. Some won’t. 

Jon: It’s funny that I think it’s interesting that we were talking about this, because I think you made a post about this at first, and that’s when I kind of got the I was intrigued by it, as when I saw it. I was thinking to myself, now I don’t have a microsite, but for each of my clients and for each of the roles that I have, I do something not as extensive as you, but quite similar. I have basically a pre formatted email that I send to every single candidate. It talks about, basically goes over the location of the role, the name of the role, the salary that I’ve agreed to put the put the candidate forwards for how many times a week. Even their notice period is in there. Why they’re leaving. Yeah, it has their interview stages, what to expect at what stage, if it’s a phone call, but the phone call is over. Teams don’t turn on your camera because they don’t want that. And after I saw your post, I think we talked about it briefly, I was like, oh, instead of having this in an email, I’m going to put this in a PDF document, just going to compile it and leave the key information such as the role title and stuff that’s going to stay on the email. And I’ve now done that. And what’s happened is the candidates that I send this to, which is now everybody, I’ve had fewer candidates. I don’t have a lot of candidates that ghost me, but basically I’ve had fewer candidates be less successful at first stage, a lot more going to second, 3rd stage, blah, blah, blah, doing more successful in that and everybody’s happier because there’s less of that. How do I act in this stage? Or how can I get the best out of the interview? Because now it’s all compiled for them to be like they don’t have to ask the silly questions of what does career progression look like from it’s all there.  

Simon: And it takes a little bit more work from the client. But ultimately I only work with clients bar one that are exclusive with me anyway. I’m almost I’m almost acting like an internal recruiter would that they share rather than an agency recruiter, like a typical sort of contingency guy. I don’t work retained and all that money up front because it just feels like an extra hassle that I don’t need. But I make sure all the clients are completely engaged from the beginning. I’m very clear about what I look for from them, but also, I’m also very clear about the results that I’ll get for them. So I’m like, look, instead of investing an hour with four recruiters, that’s 4 hours of investment. And then all of the CVS that you’ve got to review and all of that. Why don’t you just invest that three or 4 hours with me up front getting all of these things right so I can demonstrate them to the client, the candidates, in the best possible way, which is going to improve your reputation and give you more qualified candidates that actually understand the interview process and what you’re looking for. And it’s been a massive success for me. It really has. I’m filling like nine out of the ten CVS that I send are interviewed, which it was 66% last year, and 94% of the roles that I have are filled.  

Jon: Yeah, it just makes your job easier, frees up your time to do more things.  

Simon: Just high in recruitment, you’re constantly told like, numbers, numbers, volume, volume, volume. But for me, it’s like everything is as quality focused as I can possibly have it. And I still fill my dev roles within three weeks, which is better than most recruiters. Most recruiters, I’m told is like 4,5,6,7 weeks. I’m filling my dev roles within three weeks. And I’m not just sending people over quickly. I’m sending the best three or four or five people, and that’s it. And they’re all prepared. And why wouldn’t you want that?  

Jon: I’ve got a role that I’ve had for six months, not because there’s no interest, but because of the location. It’s horrible. It’s such an odd location. And everyone that specialism and that specialism lives basically in the wrong location, and they don’t want to travel 2 hours each way. And I’m like, yeah, that’s fair.  

Simon: It can’t be done remotely.  

Jon: It could, but they don’t want to.  

Simon: The thing that I’ve realized is there’s only so many times you can take the horse to water with clients. I’m like, I score all of my clients out of ten on ten different areas. Right? Yeah. And it’s about how I feel about the job, what’s important to me, but also what’s important to my candidates. And I give them a grade, and I use that as a way to get the clients to change. So if, like you said, that role, you’ve had it for six months, and I’m sure that you constantly said, look, that role could be done remotely, and if you could have it remote, I will fill that within a month, easily. Because it’s a good role if you do that, and then you’re constantly banging that drum, you’re showing them different case studies of what your other clients are doing, all the different things that you do, and they’re still not getting it.  
Time to drop the client. Yeah, it is, because that space with that client, that negative six months, I’ve had that role open, you could then get rid of that, win a new client, bring them on board. And then suddenly you’ve replaced it with something better. And that’s how I’m constantly doing it. Like, all of my clients about one are fully remote. The one that isn’t will allow office once a week, once a fortnight in the office. That’s it. So it means I can go an hour of their office and it makes it a little bit more difficult, but it’s still fillable.  

Jon: Yeah, that’s still easier than two or three days a week in the office, though.  

Simon: It’s infinitely easier. Yeah. So you’ve just got to think of all the blockers that your clients giving you and keep trying to get over them and eventually you’ll either get over it or you’ll realize, actually, this is a waste of my time. I’m going to have to drop you unless you change that. And this is the reason why. And you’re just filling up space for something better.  

Jon: Yeah, pretty much.  

Simon: It’s like that thing that people say, isn’t it? Like you’ve got your friends and if you’ve got a friend that’s constantly negative and they drag you down, they drag your energy down, you have to let them go. You have to. Eventually you have to. And then you’ll find that that friend naturally gets replaced by somebody who’s maybe doing better in life, who helps raise you up, who’s more supportive. And you’ve only got enough time to deal with so many clients or so many friends. And you’ve got to make sure that the friends that you’ve got, like all the clients that you’ve got, are helping you to the bigger picture.  

01:14:16 Biggest impact ADHD has on a professional career

Jon: Yeah, I know what you mean. I do know what you mean. It’s an interesting one with that one, but from everything that we’ve talked about, I was going to ask you, how does ADHD impact your work life? But we’ve been talking about it the entire time, like, how does it impact your life as a recruiter and how does it impact my life as a recruiter? And I think, I think it’d be quite easy to say. It’s definitely impactful with your microsites with my PDF file without we talk to candidates. I’m definitely a quality over quantity person myself. And the extra understanding with neurodivergent candidates. All of this stuff, like every single aspect, I would argue every single aspect of both of our jobs is impacted by our neurodiversity and hopefully makes us better because of it. Yeah. I’m curious to get your perspective on this. What would you say are the two to three biggest impacts that ADHD has on someone’s professional career?  

Simon: Yeah, I mean, I can always talk from my perspective, but I’m sure it’s common across most people with ADHD. But one of the biggest things was me not listening to people or constantly interrupting them when they were talking. I was always not listening to what they were saying. I was thinking about what I was getting excited about, what was in my head, waiting for my opportunity to interrupt. And that was really brought home by so I used to be in a band, and the guitarist out of the band, his misses, pre ADHD diagnosis. I had a good relationship with him, but obviously now I know I didn’t listen right. So I saw her on a night out and I remember it was like three or four days after having my first tablets, my first conserva, and I’d had them and we had this really great conversation. And before she left, like, I was my friend, she was with hers. Before I left, or she left, I can’t remember. She came up to me and she said she had tears in her eyes, and I’ll never forget this. And she said, you know what, Simon? Like, I’ve known you now for four or five years, and I love you. You know I do. But that’s the first time in my time of knowing you that I’ve ever felt that you’ve really took anything that I’ve said under any sort of importance. And you’ve listened to me and I cried. I was like, I’m so sorry. Because in my head, I was like, I would never, ever want somebody to feel like I don’t care about their opinion or I just don’t listen to them or they’re not important. They are. They’re so important. But I just have this thing where I can’t so that was one of the biggest things I had so many ideas that I could never see through. I’d have ideas and more ideas than most people I have more ideas in a day than most people have in a week or a year. And I’d have all these ideas, and I’d never quite be able to follow through on them. And the other thing is and you’ve had this yourself, haven’t you? It’s not on my LinkedIn profile, but prior to 2007, I must have had, like, maybe 50 jobs over a ten year period. And what would happen is I’d join a role it and they would they would say, like, this is the commission structure, blah, blah, blah. I joined three months in. They changed the goal posts. Yeah. And I’m like, well, f*** you, I’m leaving. Like, I don’t need this bullshit. I’ll find somewhere else that treats me with more respect. So maybe I had an overly high opinion of myself. Maybe I felt like I always needed to fight every fight so I just leave jobs. It was never because it wasn’t stimulating because they were all the same, just different. Selling to been different but it was always down to being wronged in some way. And it was the same in personal relationships. I’m not going to give you a number, but I’ve had a lot of relationships before I was 30 years old, before I was diagnosed and it was just for the same reason. But the thing is I always felt like it was me that was right and it was always them that was wrong or I left there because of this. I left her because of that and I never ever looked inward.  

Jon: Yeah, and you are right about the jobs thing. I’ll say this not to you and to the listeners, viewers, to the people that are interested in this, that are at this point here in the podcast. I have had quite a few jobs myself. I’ve done package handling for FedEx and Amazon. I have worked in hospitality for almost a decade. I worked for a church for a while, I worked for a charity. I am a year and a half into my recruitment career and I’m on my third agency. Here’s the thing that I have found about having ADHD and jobs sometimes it is our fault. It genuinely is sometimes our fault. Sometimes with a couple of those jobs I got bored. And I needed something else. Sometimes the role was overstimulating, such as a hospitality. I was bartending, and it was like this bar kind of nightclub venue. I don’t really know how to describe it. Essentially, the music was way too loud. We were constantly understaffed, and I was getting auditory overstimulation, and I was doing that for about 50, 60 hours a week. And I just I was going to a point where I would sneak into the bin room for about five minutes, every half an hour or so, just to be able to reorient myself. And then I was recently talking to someone about this, about ADHD and job hopping, or having jumpy CVS, if you will. I don’t necessarily believe in a jumpy CV for neurodivergent people. I believe in us not doing the research sometimes on the position that we’ve gone to, and then finding out that it’s maybe not the right fit or believing it’s the right fit, and then it turns out it’s not. So my advice is, if I can give one piece of advice about CVS when you go on LinkedIn, because, let’s face it, LinkedIn is important. It is so vitally important if you’ve left roles within, let’s say, six to seven, eight months of of joining, go into your LinkedIn, go to that role, and then say why you joined that position and why you left. For example, I started my career at Hayes. I left. And I have no shame admitting this because the cost of living crisis had started. I was also working a second job full time to make ends meet. I literally could not afford to live, and it was burning me out. So I left. I then moved to another agency. That one didn’t work out. Why? Because I didn’t have the time to do the research. Because I needed to get out of that position that I was in prior. Now, just because I have ADHD doesn’t mean that. That it’s a jumpy CV. So that’s kind of my advice. If you can justify it and you can make sense of it on LinkedIn, I would really recommend it because it will help you. It will help recruiters such as myself and Simon look at your profile and better understand what’s happening. And it’ll help hiring managers better understand as well. 

Simon: Yeah, and just to elaborate on that, actually, and one of the biggest skills that I’ve learned over my career, and it was from reading a book by Jocko Willink, it’s called Extreme Ownership. And I learned a lesson. It’s for leaders, but I’m not a leader, I’m just like a recruiter on my own. But what I learned from that is that you should always take full responsibility for what you can take out of a situation. Always look for how you can improve, because you’re taking the control of that then, and you’re looking at how you could have done things differently instead of blaming. And one of the things that hiring managers hate more than anything is when somebody comes to an interview and just slags off their ex company. And if you are going to write something on LinkedIn, being self reflective and being honest about your role, I wouldn’t even write down. But it’s something in person that you can do on LinkedIn. You’ve got to find a way of diplomatically saying what you need to say. And sometimes it isn’t your fault, sometimes it’s other people’s fault. But you have got to think, like, hiring managers are going to look at that and they don’t want to see a problem, someone who complains, they want to see someone positive, who’s going to be a positive member of the team. But of course, when you actually are at interview, you’re having that conversation. So why did you leave the last role? Again, you’ve got to be diplomatic. You can say, look, when I joined, they told me that the role was going to be this and it turned out to be this. But if I’m honest, when I was at the interview, I was desperate to go out of the place that I was in before. Maybe I could have questioned them a lot deeper, but just got overexcited at the interview and they probably sensed it and maybe oversold the role a little bit and it was a mistake and we all make them. And that’s what I’m trying to rectify now.  

Jon: Absolutely no, absolutely agree. And if anyone wants to take a look at my LinkedIn, you’ll see exactly that kind of thing on my LinkedIn profile. It literally says, basically, Simon, exactly what you said. Yeah, it’s fine. Basically says I left this position and joined this one because I wanted to get out. I didn’t do the research that I probably should have done and then saying, although, because I did at my previous company, I did genuinely enjoy the role, I loved the people I was working with. Right. It was a great atmosphere, but it became apparent quite quickly on that the management style and my ADHD wasn’t working. Now, we spent six months trying to rectify this and coming with solutions and basically working together, me and my line manager, to try and get this to work. And after six months of trying, it still wasn’t quite gelling. And so at that point, I had to say, you know what? I think I jumped the gun by joining this place. That’s my mistake, I do, but I think it’s best for me to leave. And so I had to do that. Yeah, and there’s nothing wrong with that. And I think there’s this atmosphere of shame in moving roles and not wanting to be to own, like you said. Own? Why? Well, I’m going to own mine. I started a position that I didn’t do enough research into and I had to leave before I probably should have. That’s okay. And it’s the same thing for ADHD people. It happens a lot. There’s no shame in it. If you want to explain it, if you can, I would say go for it.  

Simon: Yeah. But spin it in the right way as well, though. What qualities do you want this? What hiring manage is what does a hiring manager want to see from a person? Humility is a big one. So it’s not blaming being open and being humble about what you could do better. They always say, like, what are the biggest challenges that you’ve had in this project? And what they’re always looking for is, well, the biggest challenge was this. This is how I tackled it. But I realized now I could have done this differently and if I had the chance again, I would have done this. It’s just the same with every decision that you make. Everybody makes mistakes. There’s no shame at all. Even the hiring managers that you’re talking to have made some hummingers of mistakes and it’s just understanding that and appealing to them as a human.  

Jon: Yeah, no, absolutely.  I do have just realized the time. I have another meeting in about five minutes. Okay. So maybe we’ll finish up with just. Like one last kind of thing.  

Chris; The rejection on the rejection sensitivity one.  

Jon: Yeah, we’ll just finish up with that and then I’ll do the quick the outro and then we’ll call it a day.

01:27:52 Rejection, Sensitivity, Dysphoria

Jon: Yeah. Okay. Okay, cool. Now where is the RSD? Third from bottom. Yeah. So third from bottom. So. I realize we’re almost out of time for this, but I do want to get your feedback on this or kind of your ideas. Rejection, sensitivity, dysphoria, which in a nutshell, for those that are listening and don’t know what it is, this general, it’s a neurological thing. It is real. There is science behind it. I’m not a scientist, so I can’t tell you exactly what it is, but I’ll give you the best understanding that I can. Essentially, it means that neurodivergent, ADHD people specifically, are more sensitive to rejection. There is a neurological reason for why this is. I don’t know exactly what that is, and I don’t want to butcher it. But yeah, essentially we’re more sensitive to rejection. We take it harder, we take it more personally. And this can be a real challenge in the workforce, especially if you’re a recruiter or if you are someone who has been recently affected by the layoffs all across tech and is just being hit by rejection after rejection after rejection in CVS. It’s challenging. It sucks. It’s really difficult. So, Simon, kind of my last question for you. How can we make the hiring process just a little bit more bearable for those neurodivergent people that have RSD and how can we support those candidates when they feel rejected like this?  

Simon: Yeah, before this call, I didn’t really know what RSD was, but I definitely agree that I take rejection quite different courtly and it’s mad that lots of people with ADHD actually take roles that are based in sales or recruitment or public facing or whatever roles that have probably got the most rejection of any role. So maybe this, maybe there’s something in that. But. I mean, the way that I can’t speak for all hiring managers, but what I force my hiring managers to do, and a lot of them do it willingly, but some might just to really get it out of them, is every candidate is treated with respect throughout the process. So I have like, seven different templates that I send to candidates for different reason that I would reject them. Maybe it’s because they’ve not got a visa and my client can’t sponsor, or maybe it’s because technically they’re not what they’re looking for. Maybe it’s because their type of work history I e they’ve only worked in consultancies. And whatever the reason is, I’ve got seven of them. So I always make sure if I reject somebody’s CV, they’ve got one of those seven reasons so they can understand what I’m seeing and where it’s come from. Now, every time, all my clients have a client portal where they manage all the roles which have built similar to the microsite but for clients. And they’re not allowed to reject a candidate without giving a rejection reason. So I always make sure that I give really specific feedback to people who’ve interviewed or people have sent to clients, and they’ve happened to say no to them on the rare occasion that happens. And I understand, obviously, how hard it is to be rejected. So I always try to sort of give candidates the specific reasons, also the understanding. Look, I know it’s horrible being rejected, so I wanted to give you really honest feedback on why I’m having to reject you. And how do you feel about that? Yeah. And the other thing as well is sometimes I don’t do it all the time, but sometimes I’ll ask candidates, if you were rejected, how would you like that rejection? Would you like that over the phone? Would you like me to call you? Or would you prefer it by email so you can process it? How do you best handle that if it happened? And I admit I should do that more, but more, most of the time I just call them because that’s who I am. I call people. That’s all.  

Jon: Really good insights. I hadn’t thought about asking candidates what’s maybe the best way to let them know?  

Simon: Feedback. 

Jon: Yeah. It depends on the candidate. If I know them quite well, I call them. But sometimes I might send an email. It just depends on the person for me. But it’d probably be better to just ask them, like you said. So I might use that. Yeah. Simon, we are unfortunately out of time.  

Simon: Yeah, no worries.  

Jon: But I just want to say thank you so very much for coming on to this episode today. I realized the initial topic was rejection sensitivity, dysphoria, and we only got to that in the last four minutes, but but, yes, I just want to thank you so much for coming on. It was absolutely wonderful having you. Until next time. I cannot wait to have you guys. Don’t forget to, like, comment, subscribe, send it to your friends and family, everyone else, and stay tuned.