As part of an extensive job interview for a government position, my 24 year old friend had to list ten personal references on his application. But there was a catch. He had to have known each reference for a minimum of two years, they could not be in his current profession, they could not be related to him, and there could not be more than a ten year age difference between them. Since he's 24, I understand not wanting 14 year olds as references, but why not 34, 44, 54 or 64 year old ones?
This got me thinking. If I had to name ten friends under this criteria, I'd be in serious trouble. The most I could name would be seven people, and three of those seven are not exactly "close" friends.
I "get" the no family and even the two years of knowing each other criteria. But the "no colleagues" blows many of my friends out of the process, and the ten year age difference has me totally stumped.
At age 24, are "older" friends considered biased in the applicant's favor? Does a ten plus year age difference mean they don't/couldn't really know the applicant? Is ten years equal to a "generation gap"?
I do not know the organization's thought process for the reference requirements but, it's been a month since I learned of them and I continued to be perplexed. Afterall, I've interviewed probably a thousand job applicants in my career and hired a wide age range of employees. As an interviewer, I'm not legally allowed to ask age related questions so why is a employer allowed to insist on age related references?
Maybe this annoys me so much because many of my closest and dearest friends are 30 to 45 years older than me. Seriously! I run with an older crowd, but I cherish these friendships and they know me very well. And maybe it's because, at age 51, I also have close friends in their 20s, 30s and 40s. Although we don't notice the age difference, apparently, some employers do. These long time friends "wouldn't count" as a reference for my character and reliability, and vice-versa. I think that's odd.
I have always been drawn to people older than me, even as a young girl. One of my closest friends and confidants growing up was 64 years older than me-- Mrs. Smith. I've written about her before. She was instrumental in helping shape the independent woman I am today, but, in some job situations, apparently our age difference diminishes our relationship.
And I won't even start on the ten year age difference also eliminating me as a reference for the numerous young people I've mentored over the years, including interns, students and volunteers for a variety of charitable organizations. I've developed meaningful and on-going relationships with many people half my age but again, our age difference is of no help to these young people trying to launch their careers.
As a child, through my teens and well into my twenties, I had close relationships with my grandparents and great-grandmother; and I've sent a considerable amount of time at assisted living facilities and nursing homes. It's easy for me to spot people-- young and old, who are simply not comfortable with those outside their immediate generation and that's too bad-- They are missing out on some amazing and inspiring men and women.
I wonder if the person who made up the "ten year rule" for the job references is only comfortable with folks his/her own age. I'd be happy to spend time and show them the ropes of hanging with "old folks". They might learn something.
Could you name ten friends under the above criteria?
Welcome to The Fifty Factor - Joanna