• Design
  • File Format

File Format

Choosing the correct file format will mitigate common annoyances and embarrassing issues. Don't risk applying with a resume that can't be opened or has formatting issues when opened on a different computer.

Things to Consider

When choosing a file format for your resume, there are a few key things to consider:

  • Platform agnostic: The format you choose should be readable on any device or operating system.
  • Formatting and styling: The formatting and style of your resume should be the same, regardless of the device it is viewed on.
  • ATS compatible: Choose a file format that is widely supported for ATS uploads.
  • Recruiter preference: Most recruiters have a preferred file format for resumes. It's important to choose a format that will be well-received by recruiters.

Why PDF is the Best

PDF (Portable Document Format) is the best choice for a resume file format because it is:

  • Readable on all platforms and operating systems: PDFs can be opened and read on any device, including computers, tablets, and smartphones. This ensures that your resume will be readable no matter what platform or operating system the recipient is using.
  • Consistent formatting: PDFs maintain their formatting and styling, so your resume will look the same no matter where it is viewed.
  • Preferred by most recruiters: Most recruiters have a preference for PDF resumes because they are easy to read and maintain their formatting.
  • Compatible with ATS: PDFs are the most widely supported file format for ATS resume uploads.

Why to Avoid Word

While Word documents (.doc or .docx) may be a commonly used file format, they are not the best choice for a resume. Here are a few reasons why you should avoid applying with a Word doc:

  • Inconsistent formatting and styling: Word documents can look different on different devices and operating systems, which can lead to inconsistencies in formatting and styling. This can make your resume look unprofessional and difficult to read.
  • Issues with different Word versions: Different versions of Word can handle formatting and styling differently, which can cause issues when opening a Word document on a different version.
  • Recruiters can edit it before sending to companies: Because Word documents can be easily edited, a recruiter could make changes to your resume before sending it to a company. This only matters if a third party recruiter is helping you apply.

When to Use Word

While PDF is generally the best choice for a resume file format, there may be times when you need to use Word. For example, if a company specifically requests a Word document, you should provide your resume in that format. However, it's important to make sure that your resume looks professional and maintains its formatting and styling before sending it.

Other Formats

It's ok to write your resume in another format like LaTeX, Markdown, or plain text, but save it as a PDF before submitting it to job applications.

File Name

In addition to choosing the right file format for your resume, it's also important to choose a professional and appropriate file name. Here are a few tips for choosing a file name for your resume:

  • Include your name: Your file name should include your name, so the recipient knows whose resume it is. For example, you could use a file name like john-smith-resume.pdf or jane-doe-cv.pdf.
  • Avoid version or company names: Your file name should not include the version of your resume or the name of the company you are applying to. This can look unprofessional and confusing.
  • Use a relevant file extension: The file extension you choose should match the file format of your resume. For example, if your resume is a PDF, your file name should end with .pdf.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your resume has a professional and appropriate file name.


Follow this advice and you can apply confidently, knowing that your resume can be opened on any device and will maintain the formatting you worked so hard on.

Last updated on December 13, 2022