What Is the Best Format for Your Resume?

John Krautzel
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You have many aspects of your resume to figure out before submitting it for consideration. You have to get your previous employers lined up, list all of your relevant skills and select your most relevant top-level accomplishments. Then, you have to scan the document for errors and typos. Once you finish all of this, you have to decide the best format for your document.

PDF Versus Microsoft Word

The two main formats that companies prefer are PDF and Microsoft Word. That's because most computers can open these types of files very easily due to the ubiquity of the programs. A PDF is often considered more secure than Microsoft Word, because no one can alter the document. When you send your resume in Microsoft Word, someone can edit the document before sending it to the right person. Using a PDF format ensures that the actual document you created gets to the hiring manager.

There are additional reasons why many consider a PDF to be the best format for a resume. PDFs usually arrive in an email free of computer viruses and malware. Plus, these documents retain formatting no matter what type of email system sends them or what type of operating system the recipient's computer has installed. PDFs work on Windows and Mac computers.

If you send a Microsoft Word file and the person uses Google Drive to upload it, there could be issues with formatting. Some words and programming may not translate between the formats. Images, spacing, bullets and other in-text formatting may not come across clearly from one format to the next.


The one problem that PDFs have is that applicant tracking systems may read Word documents better. Consider sending your resume in both formats if you submit it through a direct email, LinkedIn or a company's website. When you have a choice of only one download through an online job board, you have to decide which format to use. You might follow up with a LinkedIn submission after going through the preferred channel.

Solving the Problem

Rather than rely on a traditional job application, submit your resume after making a network connection. Your contact can give you the email address of the person responsible for hiring you. In the email, use the text as your cover letter and then attach both formats at the bottom of the correspondence. Mention in your cover letter that you also applied through official channels, but you wanted to reach out since your networking contact felt you were a good candidate for the job. Having a vital network proves more valuable than having a dynamite resume when it comes landing a job interview.

Your resume provides a snapshot of your career. The format of your submission does matter to some extent, but mitigate any concerns by submitting a PDF and MS Word file directly to the hiring manager. Remember to review your resume thoroughly before sending it along.


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  • Mira G.
    Mira G.

    Thanks for the advice

  • Brigitte  Q.
    Brigitte Q.

    This is great information and I utilize it whenever I am sending my resume although I've seen instances where the recipient will suggest I send a MS Word format; I always follow up with PDF just because of the reasons listed in the article. I try to stay current on issues such as this so now maybe I will find my dream career being 55+ myself.

  • Gloria Carter
    Gloria Carter

    grate tips thank you.

  • Sheila Mullen
    Sheila Mullen

    Thank you!

  • Leslie P.
    Leslie P.

    Very helpful. Thanks


    Very good! Thanks

  • Katherine Franklin
    Katherine Franklin

    Excellent points


    Great information. Thanks for sharing.

  • Rukmini R.
    Rukmini R.

    Very helpful, thank you!

  • Dale W.
    Dale W.

    Thank you!

  • willie t.
    willie t.

    Thanks, very helpful.

  • Raymond Lagacé
    Raymond Lagacé

    you would need to lock your PDF because there are online tools that convert PDF to DOC and then you can change anything in word doc then save back to PDF

  • Ruth Pryor
    Ruth Pryor

    Thanks for the valuable information

  • yosief e.
    yosief e.

    Thank you for your valuable information


    Thank you for all that information. Specially for the Resume format and de PDF

  • Gwen W.
    Gwen W.

    Very informative infomation

  • MD A.
    MD A.


  • eko budi s.
    eko budi s.

    Yes, I also use computers to store data and communications

  • Malinda R.
    Malinda R.

    Great summary !!

  • D B.
    D B.

    "That's because most computers can these types of files very easily due to the ubiquity of the programs."

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