When submitting a job application, a common question that comes up is “What type of file should I use for my resume?” Although there are myriad formats out there, two are considered the primary go-tos: PDF and Word doc. However, which of these should you choose? When it comes to figuring out what is the best file format for a resume, here are some things to keep in mind.
First — follow directions
The main thing you want to keep in mind is to follow any and all directions. Read the application instructions thoroughly, and if they ask for a specific file type, make sure to stick with that. Otherwise you risk both sending a file that’s unreadable, and indicating to hiring managers that you lack attention to detail or the ability to follow directions (neither of which are positive traits in a prospective employee).
If you’re emailing your resume
Unless otherwise specified, a PDF is often your best option when attaching your resume to an email. With Word documents, there’s a chance your formatting may get thrown off, depending on what version of Word the recipient uses. By sending a PDF, you’ll be able to ensure that the formatting remains consistent and that what the reader sees is what you intended them to see.
If you’re uploading your resume to a job site
If your resume is being uploaded to a job site, it may be in your best interest to use a Word doc (unless, once again, the company specifies otherwise). In many cases, these applications utilize an applicant tracking system (ATS) in order to filter and manage submissions, and although PDF is best for maintaining your format, it is not always able to be read by ATS and may decrease your chance of making it through the initial filter. As such, you might be better served uploading a Word doc, even at the risk of having your formatting go awry.
However, you’re probably familiar with online applications that ask you to upload your resume and then re-enter that information into different application fields. If no other file type is requested, you can submit a PDF resume to be downloaded by the company — then, anything missed by the ATS will still be read correctly when it’s typed into those fields. So while it may seem tedious, this is also an opportunity to make sure your keywords are caught by the ATS, and that a properly-formatted resume lands in the hiring manager’s hands!
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