As more and more job seekers apply for jobs online instead of printing off paper resumes, this question quite frequently comes up. Resume Companion has investigated the PDF vs. Word debate and is ready to share our recommendations.
For the normal job seeker, your resume is usually created and saved in the standard Word document format. But when should you send your resume in Word format and when should you send it in PDF? Take a look below to find out which format is best, depending on your situation:
Applying to Recruiters or Large Companies? Use Word Format
Recruiting agencies and large companies (think Fortune 500), generally prefer the Word format because of the database systems they use to save and store applicants’ resumes. According to the Wall Street Journal, the weak job market and ease of online applications have led many companies to turn to Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to help them manage the hiring process. These searchable databases are the most common way for recruiters and large companies to store, organize, and distribute the resumes they receive.
Although PDFs are now accepted for some applicant tracking systems, the Word format is still the preferred file type when submitting to a recruiting company. One other reason is that it is common practice for recruiters to remove the applicant’s contact information from a resume before forwarding it to clients. So if you are submitting your resume to a recruiter, use the (.doc or .docx) Word format!
Expert Tip: Before sending in Word, remember to turn off tracked changes and delete all inserted comments in the file. You can also open up the document properties to make sure the Author Info and Title are correct.
If Applying to a Job Posted Online, Use the Format Specified
If you are applying for a job online, check the job posting for information on how to send your resume. Most postings will include instructions on how to apply and what format to send your resume in.
Some online applications require plain text only, while some require PDF or Word as an attachment. If the company wants the resume as a PDF file, then do not send it as a Word document (plus it’s easy to convert Word to PDF anyways). If you send the incorrect format, not all hiring managers are forgiving and may not take the time to notify you.
Expert Tip: Remember, these hiring managers receive a high volume of resumes everyday. So make sure to read instructions carefully to ensure your resume is the correct resume format.
What if There is No Format is Specified on the Job Listing?
If no preferred format is mentioned on the job listing, first take a look around to see if the information is available on other job postings by the same employer or if it’s on the “Careers” section of the company’s website. If you still cannot find whether the employer wants your resume in PDF or Word, it is recommended to email or call to ask which is preferred. This will also show the employer that you care about the job. If for some reason you can’t ask the company, then we recommend you convert your resume from Word to PDF and attach a note saying your resume is available in Word format if required.
Sending your resume as a PDF will ensure your formatting remains consistent no matter who opens it. PDF is secure, virus-free, and compatible across all platforms. Nowadays, it is rare to come across a company that does not have a free installation of Adobe Reader on their computers.
In comparison, the formatting of Word documents sometimes will vary based on what version of Word is installed. Therefore, sending as a PDF is recommended so that you can rest assured your employer receives your resume formatted exactly as you see it on your screen.
TIP: Export your resume as a PDF or DOC with our online resume builder.
What if I Want to Send Both Word and PDF?
When the resume format is not specified, you still have the option of attaching your resume in both PDF and Word formats. This allows the employer to choose which one to open and save. However, the downside of this is that it will take up more of the employer’s storage space and possibly the employer’s time since they may have to check to make sure both documents are the same.