When words are not enough: The combined effects of autism meta‐stereotypes and recruitment practices aimed at attracting autistic job‐seekers. By: Goldberg, Caren and Willham, Evan. 2024. Human Resource Management. p1.

Based on research on meta‐stereotypes and signaling theory, we examined the effects of organizational signaling on the attraction of autistic applicants. Our model predicted that meta‐stereotypes and the combination of expressed and evidence‐based autism‐conscious signals would have simple and joint effects on candidates’ fit perceptions, which would, in turn, affect their job pursuit intentions. Further, we expected that the effect of signaling on our outcomes would be weaker among candidates with strong negative autism meta‐stereotypes. Prior to testing our hypotheses, we conducted a focus group to determine the supports that autistic job seekers deemed most important. As the ability to work from home (WFH) was overwhelmingly the most cited support, we included this as our evidence‐based signal. Specifically, we examined the combined effect of disability‐conscious (vs. disability‐blind) diversity statements and WFH (vs. retirement benefits) on expected fit and subsequent job pursuit intentions. Both meta‐stereotypes and combined signals significantly influenced fit expectations. Further, the autism‐friendly signals significantly affected the fit of candidates with weak and moderate negative meta‐stereotype, but not the fit of candidates with strong meta‐stereotypes. In addition, our results indicate that the signal x meta‐stereotype interaction had an indirect effect on job pursuit intentions. Findings are discussed vis‐à‐vis the research on signaling theory and practical guidance is offered to employers seeking to attract the growing number of autistic job seekers.