Your resume tells your story. It is often the first touchpoint with a potential employer during the job application process. Follow the key resume etiquette rules to present yourself in the best way. Avoid making the wrong first impression.  

What resume etiquette is

Resume etiquette is the set of rules to structure and write an appropriate curriculum vitae. Such rules include:

  • Etiquette principles to write an appropriate resume.
  • Tips for an effective resume.
  • The mistakes to avoid in your curriculum vitae.

As a job seeker, you should respect resume etiquette to increase your chances of getting noticed by recruiters and invited to a job interview.

Resume etiquette. The most important rules. By recruiters. How to write an effective resume. What to avoid.

Resume etiquette rules

1) The resume must tell a true story

A resume should be accurate. Thus, state facts only. Embellishing your story is acceptable to resume etiquette. Lying no.

You can stress some elements in your resume. Aim for a positive spin. You can decide to omit some elements, such as not meeting your sales targets.

However, you should not lie on hard facts. The companies you worked for. Dates and the amount of time in a role. Your tasks and achievements. 

2) Make your resume easy to read

How will the recruiters open your resume file? Will they be able to understand your resume structure? Such considerations are key in resume etiquette. Make your resume easy to access and read.

Share your resume as a PDF file. PDF files are easy to share and print. Also, they cannot be modified. Thus, unlike .doc files, the formatting cannot be messed up.  

Use common formatting. Avoid uncommon layouts, fonts, or formatting options. Research online for resume templates and use one of those. Follow the crucial business writing rules.

Resume etiquette. What you should not include in your resume. Avoid some personal information in your curriculum if you apply in the US or in UK.

3) Avoid resume etiquette disqualifiers

Recruiters often receive hundreds of resumes for a job posting. Thus, they skim resumes by looking for disqualifiers. A disqualifier is a fatal error. A single disqualifier is enough to get your resume discarded. 

Typos are the worst mistake you can make on your resume. They show a lack of care. No attention to detail. Sloppiness. Check your resume for typos. Read each word individually. 

Lack of conciseness can get your resume rejected too. You should try to fit everything on one page. The general rule of thumb is to add a page on your resume for every 10 years of experience. Thus, a second page on your resume is allowed after 10 years of work. 

Be careful with sharing your personal information. Some countries have strict rules or hiring policies to prevent discrimination. Most recruiters in the UK or the US will reject your resume if it contains a photo of yourself. 

Avoid any data about your personal traits. Recruiters do not need such information for hiring. In addition, personal traits data increase the risk of discrimination. Several companies have a no-tolerance policy for resumes with such information. 

  • Age. 
  • Date of birth. 
  • Gender
  • Sexual orientation. 
  • Nationality. 
  • Ethnicity. 
  • Any physical traits. Such as height or weight.
  • Religion.

4) Check your resume for consistency

Your resume must be consistent, in both content and format.

The content and information on your resume must be consistent with your social profiles. LinkedIn, Facebook, and so on.

Make sure you use consistent formatting within your resume. Display dates in the same format. Make consistent use of typeface. Do not exceed with bold, italics, or underline effects. 

5) Quantify your achievements

Stress your accomplishments. What you achieved is more important than how you did it. Example: “increased team sales by 20%” is better than “led a team of sales managers”. 

Quantify your achievements. Add a number to every accomplishment. Data increase your resume’s credibility. Data show that you are result-driven. 

Resume etiquette for how to address gaps in your resume. Tips by recruiters

6) Address gaps in your resume

A resume gap is a prolonged time out of work. Recruiters consider resume gaps as a red flag. It is best to address them. Otherwise, recruiters may just discard your resume.

If the gap is up to 3 months, it is not a concern. However, make sure that you address any gap longer than 3 months. 

If you mention a sabbatical or time off, state what you did. State the activities. How did you spend your sabbatical? Why was it worth taking it? If you mention only “sabbatical” or “gap year”, recruiters may question your ambition or motivation.

Good ways to fill resume gaps:

  • Traveling. 
  • Volunteer work.
  • Education. Such as learning something. Or taking a course.
  • Focusing on one activity. Such as launching a blog or an online seller business.

7) Avoid self-description in your resume

Self-description is not credible. Avoid it. Do not write a summary or an objective statement. It is useless to describe yourself as passionate or hard-working if your experience does not back it up. 

Tell who you are through the experiences you made and your achievements. 

8) Focus on keywords

Adapt your resume to the job posting. Several companies use an applicant tracking system (ATS) software to scan resumes for keywords. If your resume does not contain the right keywords, it will be discarded. No one will even read it.

Read the job description. Scan it for keywords. Identify the keywords the recruiter is looking for. Then, add them to your resume. It is good resume etiquette to reword a sentence, or even a job title, to include keywords.

resume etiquette mistakes

Resume etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. More about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the worst resume etiquette mistakes. 

  • 9/10. Lying on your resume.
  • 8/10. Failing to make your resume easy to access or read.
  • 8/10. Including resume disqualifiers.
  • 8/10. Not writing the resume in a professional tone.
  • 4/10. Failing to address a resume gap.
  • 3/10. Including vague statements.