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Resume in Word or PDF: which format works best?

Resume in Word or PDF: which format works best?

  • Pros and cons of PDF resumes
  • Pros and cons of Word resumes
  • What file type should my resume be in?
  • Key takeaways

When sending a resume for a job opening, every aspect of the document is important. That includes the format you choose. Word and PDF are the most common types of documents, but which is the right option? In this blog, we will discover the things you should consider when deciding whether to send your resume in Word or PDF.

One of the most important aspects of applying for a new job is having a resume that is formatted correctly. Along with the layout of the document itself, formatting includes the type of document you choose. But, when it comes to document type, should you send your resume in Word or PDF, and does it even matter?

In this article, we will look at some of the pros and cons of both resume types and help you determine the best format for your resume. Here’s what we will cover:

  • Pros and cons of PDF resumes

  • Pros and cons of Word resumes

  • What file type should my resume be in?

Pros and cons of PDF resumes

A PDF is often used when the goal is to allow someone to view a document instead of editing it, which makes it a popular option for resumes. However, it isn’t necessarily the best option for everyone. Here are some of the pros of using a PDF-formatted resume:

  • Formatting preservation. PDFs preserve the formatting for your document, which means your margins, line breaks, and headers will not change when someone other than you views your resume. PDFs even maintain their formatting when printed. They are also compatible with any type of operating system, so the receiver shouldn’t have an issue having access to your document.

  • Professionalism. PDFs can also appear more professional than other types of documents, especially those that are saved in plain text or Word. For applicants who have portfolios or websites, hyperlinks are also easier to add, which also gives employers access to even more information about you.

And here’s a couple potential downfalls of using a pdf-formatted resume:

  • Applicant tracking systems (ATS). One downside of formatting your resume into a PDF is that some applicant tracking systems may struggle to read them. This is unlikely as most current ATS systems can parse PDF files, but MS Word files are a safer bet. 

  • Difficult to edit. It could take you longer to make changes to your resume or to customize the document based on the jobs you are applying for, which could slow down your job search process. Word-formatted resumes are easy to edit and you can tailor your resume faster when using Word.

Pros and cons of Word resumes

Word is another top choice when it comes to formatting resumes. Many recruiters prefer to receive resumes that are formatted in Word. However, there are still some drawbacks to using Word resumes you’ll want to be aware of. Here’s a look at the pros: 

  • Document size. PDFs tend to be larger than Word documents, so it may take longer to send them via email versus Word documents. In some instances, your email provider may even prevent you from sending a PDF if it is too large.

  • Collaboration. When working with a recruiter or a professional who is helping you design your resume, Word formatting is easier to work with. Since PDFs are designed for viewing versus editing, it is much simpler for multiple people to work on a Word document together than a PDF.

And a couple potential negatives:

  • Security concerns. Word documents can be more susceptible to viruses, especially if they aren’t saved securely. 

  • Lack of visual control. When you send a Word document, the formatting can change when the receiver opens the document. That means you don’t have much control over what the document will look like when a hiring manager views or prints your resume.

What file type should my resume be in?

The most important thing to do when deciding whether to send a resume in PDF or Word is to look at the specific job posting for guidance. Many recruiters and job listings request certain resume formats, and you should adhere to whatever instructions they have in place.

You can also research your particular industry or the company you are sending your application to, and determine if one format is more commonly used than the other. To keep things simple, it’s always suggested that you have a version of your resume in both formats, so you can easily use whichever type of document that is preferred, based on the situation.

If you are just getting started on your resume design journey, be sure to stop by our services page and check out our resume builder!

Key takeaways

  1. PDFs can help preserve formatting, but they may not be compatible with applicant tracking systems.

  2. Word documents allow for easy editing and collaboration, but they aren’t as secure as PDF resumes.

  3. Always follow the job listing’s instructions when choosing a resume format.

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