Should I ‘dumb down’ my resume to reduce any potential intimidation factor?

by Guest Author, Samantha Nolan

Dear Sam: Do you have any suggestions for a seasoned professional — I’m in my sixties — landing a job? I imagine most hiring managers reviewing my resume will be half my age, and I may look intimidating to some managers, given the depth of my experience. Should I do what they call “dumbing down” my experience to appear less skilled and perhaps less threatening? With more than 20 years of sales experience, I am afraid I will be intimidating to some younger sales managers. Do you have any thoughts on this? – Daisy

Dear Daisy: I think it is much less about coming across as potentially intimidating and more about painting a competitive picture of your candidacy regardless of the age or experience of the hiring manager. Rarely would a job posting — if ever — ask for 20+ years of experience, so you must take your content and keyword cues from the job postings you are applying for. If most of the positions you seek ask for 8-10 years of experience, present the “expected” 10 or so years of professional experience on your resume.

Long gone are the days in which a resume served as a narrative of everything you had done in your career; now is the time to make your resume more of a strategic image of what you have done to qualify you for what you now want to do. Hiring managers expect you to present about 8-10 or 10-15 years of experience — school of thought differs from person to person — but there is no need to go back into the 90s unless specific elements of that early experience add value to your candidacy. I would encourage you to consider presenting your experience competitively versus thinking you need to potentially “dumb down” your resume. I do not believe that diluting the value of your experience ever leads to a job someone wants; it may get you the interview, but it rarely leads to a solid “fit” between employer and employee. Best of luck to you.

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About the author: Samantha Nolan is an Advanced Personal Branding Strategist and Career Expert, founder and CEO of Nolan Branding. You can reach Samantha at

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