I really like this story about ULTRA Testing, which hires folks on the autism spectrum to perform software testing. The CEO makes a great point here:

As a result, he maintains, employers around the world are leaving huge pools of talent untapped because they don’t know where to look.

Finding enough good people remains the bane of most CISO types. Everyone is looking at intern programs to find talented kids coming out of university. Everyone is recruiting military folks as they roll off their tours of duty. There still aren’t enough.

As I have written a number of times, as an industry we need to be more creative. We must find high-potential folks and invest in them. ULTRA does this for their testing business, knowing that highly functioning people on the spectrum can do the job – given the right accommodations.

This is especially true of the 400,000 autism spectrum members deemed to be high-functioning, meaning they have strong visual and spatial relations skills and average or above-average IQs.

Research suggests they can have heightened abilities in pattern recognition and logical reasoning, but many adults living with autism and Asperger’s are thwarted by job interviews that test their limited social skills and workplace environments that are unprepared for their literal-mindedness and unrelenting attention to detail.

Why can’t this work for security? Much the job is repetitious. Unless you want to be a senior person there isn’t much need to work with many folks. Instead of having your HR group say “that won’t work” because someone doesn’t check all the boxes on the job spec, maybe you can say “it’s worth a try.”

Of course you would have to be willing to stick your neck out. You’d have to be willing to run interference for some folks who have issues in a traditional work environment. You would need the courage to make it happen. Not everyone is up to that, and that’s okay given the number of other battles you need to fight daily.

But if you spend most of your time bitching about how you can’t fill your openings, maybe it’s time to start thinking across a broader spectrum. Just maybe.

Photo credit: “Energy Saver Light Bulb” originally uploaded by James Bowe