the definitive answer: which file type should your resume be?

What’s file type do you save your resume as? It might sound like a pointless question, but trust us, it matters! Resume formatting can change (or look different) depending on the file type you use. There are some resume file types that are preferable.

As a general rule, both PDF and Word file types are generally accepted by most job and career sites. It’s recommended that you have both available in case an organization asks for one or the other. You should also consider saving your resume as a Google doc as well (this is especially useful if you apply to jobs on your phone often). However, when a specific file type is not specified, PDF is a safe bet to ensure nothing gets lost in the formatting, and your resume is viewed exactly how you intended.

Here we’ll outline important resume advice related to the most commonly used and requested resume file types:

what file type to save resume as

word .doc or .docx

A Word doc is the default for most people. It’s one of the most commonly used and accepted resume file formats. Here are the advantages of using this file format:

  • It’s an ideal option for the tech unsavvy. It’s the easiest format to use.
  • Word is fine for more simple resumes without many design elements.
  • Word offers lots of templates, and there are even more available for download around the web. This allows you to find a good resume format for your industry and job type.
  • Word docs are an accepted resume format in just about every company.
  • It is the safest option for ATS (resume screening tools). If a company uses this technology, your resume will be screened correctly.
  • It can be easily edited if you’re working with a recruiter or someone who’s helping you with your job search

There are a couple of potential issues with Word docs. First, the appearance can change depending on the reader’s computer settings or the version of Word they are using to view your resume. This means the fonts, margins, and other design elements might appear differently depending on the computer or the device they’re viewed on.  It’s also easy for someone to edit or alter your resume after you send it.

Fortunately, you can easily create your resume using Word and save it as a PDF file. This allows you to have multiple file versions of your resume and take advantage of both file types as needed.

pdf

PDFs are another popular resume formatting option. They are also commonly accepted by most hiring companies. Here are some of the benefits of converting your resume into a PDF:

  • PDFs ensure your resume maintains consistent formatting. This is especially important if you put effort into the design. There will not be any missing fonts, spacing issues, or other formatting issues such as overlapping text. It will appear exactly the same way it was saved.
  • The document will appear consistent on every device type, including mobile. PDF readers are standard on most smartphones. This makes it more accessible.
  • PDFs are more secure than Word docs. It’s more difficult for someone to edit or alter your resume after receiving it.

The only potential issue is resume ATS and other resume scanning software. PDFs can generally be read by ATS. But issues can arise. To verify your PDF resume is scannable, try highlighting text in the document. If you can highlight individual words or lines, it’s scannable. In some programs you can select how you’d like your PDF to be saved. Ensure that you don’t use the option to ‘flatten’ the image, which means the text will not be visible to resume scanning systems.

google doc

Google docs are increasing in popularity. Some hiring companies are requesting candidates submit resumes in this format. It’s a good idea to get familiar with Google docs and also use this resume format. Here are the advantages:

  • Google docs share many of the benefits of both PDF and Word docs.
  • It has lots of professional looking resume templates to build from. You can choose a template that matches your job search goals.
  • Similar to PDFs, Google docs can be locked to prevent edits from outsiders.
  • You have options to save the file. You can save it as a file type of your choice – including editable options that can be updated. This gives you more flexibility.
  • You can access Google docs from anywhere via Google Drive.
  • They are great for applying to jobs on your phone.

Since Google docs is a newer option, it’s not always accepted by online applications. Therefore, it’s recommended to also have a Word and PDF version of your resume. This will ensure you can apply for any job using the requested resume file format.

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