Star Wars or Star Trek? Quick, pick.
If you’re not a hardcore Warsie or Trekkie you’re probably thinking, what’s the difference?
It’s space people doing space things in space with glowy swords. Right?
Wrong. There are obviously no glowy swords in Star Trek.
Now, quick - PDF resume or Word resume? Pick.
Again, I’m sure you don’t see much difference. Hint: Word doesn’t have glowy swords either.
It might not seem like it, but there are big differences between the two formats and choosing the right one is critical.
So, which file format do you choose? Should you pick an MS Word doc or the PDF resume format?
This article will tell you how to decide which file format to use when saving a resume so that you can be sure that a hiring manager will read it.
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Resume Formatting - Word or PDF?
Why is a simple thing like choosing between a PDF resume or a Word resume so important?
Some companies can receive up to 250 resumes on average in response to a single job opening.
And they use software to help them sort through that mountain of resumes. Because let’s face it, recruiters are only human.
The software is called Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software, and it sorts resumes by relevancy, checking them for keywords from the job description.
If you put all the right things on your resume, ATS will rank it higher: especially, of you've put your best skills on your resume.
So, if you’ve taken the time to carefully tailor your resume to the job description by adding keywords to your resume, you’re already one step ahead of everyone else.
Hiring managers then read those resumes at the top of the ranking to choose who they are going to interview.
That means that hundreds of resumes will never reach a human person.
But what does all of this have to do with the file format you’ve chosen for your resume?
ATS software is not able to read special formatting. Therefore it is critical for you to email your resume right.
For example, some older versions of ATS software can have problems reading PDFs.
While the software continues to improve, you need to make sure you have an ATS-friendly version of your resume.
How do you know if your resume is going to have to pass through ATS?
Many large companies now use some form of the software.
Have you ever filled out an application online and then attached your resume separately? If yes, then ATS software probably scanned your resume.
If you are applying to a large firm with 100+ employees, there is a good chance that the company is processing your information with the help of ATS software.
And if you’re applying to a Fortune 500 company it’s more likely than not.
Smaller enterprises and startups are less likely to use the software, but that trend is changing.
The strategy to getting past the software is the same in almost every case:
- Your resume needs to match the job description.
- You need to use the best keywords for a resume.
- Plus, you have to make sure you know how to format a resume so that the software doesn’t automatically reject it.
Pro Tip: If you’re sending your resume as a PDF, make sure it is not saved as an image.
How do you know your PDF file is okay? Try to highlight, copy, and paste the text. If your computer can read the text then you’re good to go.
Feel like there's just too much to keep in mind when writing your resume? We've got you covered. Get our free checklist and make sure you always submit a resume that'll land you that dream job: 46 Things You Need To Do Before You Send Your Resume
Do you need information on how to format your resume to highlight your skills and achievements? Read our guide: 3 Resume Formats: How to Choose the Best One [Examples]
Here’s How to Choose Between a Resume in PDF or Word
So, what’s the best resume format - Word or PDF?
Well, that depends on how a company wants you to apply for a job. One isn’t necessarily better than the other.
So, the first thing you will want to do is to check if there are any specific guidelines concerning the format of your resume.
If the job description or online application gives you specific instructions, follow them. That’s all you have to do.
If you are sending your resume directly to a human being or there are no specific instructions, consider saving your documents in multiple formats (PDF, .doc, .docx) so that you can pick and choose which to send in different situations.
Here are the pros and cons of PDF resumes:
|Pro For The PDF Resume Format|
Virtually everyone can open a resume in PDF format on their computers.
Saving your document as a PDF ensures that the formatting will not get messed up when a user opens it.
Creating a PDF resume gives you more creative freedom (more on that later).
|Cons For The PDF Resume Format|
Some ATS software may have trouble reading PDF resumes.
If you’ve used a PDF resume format to make your resume more creative, ATS software may skip parts of your resume as it will not read graphics or text hidden in images.
Here are the pros and cons of submitting your resume in Microsoft Word formatting:
|Pros For The Word Resume Format|
Everyone has Word. Everyone. Well, unless they live in a remote part of the world in a cave with no access to computers. And in that case, you might want to send your resume via Owl ala Harry Potter.
ATS software can easily read a Word doc resume.
Many companies simply prefer documents saved as .docx, plain and simple.
|Cons For The Word Resume Format|
Your formatting can get seriously messed up if a hiring manager opens your resume in Word or with another tool other than Word.
Others have the ability to change or delete sections of your resume in a doc file either deliberately or accidentally.
You do not have the creative flexibility that you may feel you need to express yourself.
Let’s assume that your resume needs to pass a round of ATS before it lands in the lap of a human reviewer.
If you know there is a big chance that your resume is going to pass through ATS here are the rules about formatting:
- No charts, graphs, images, text boxes, or special formatting of any kind.
- Do not use special symbols to separate information unless they are standard symbols on a keyboard (- / *).
- Only upload a resume in a Word file (.doc / .docx) not your PDF resume, RTF, or JPG.
At times, you will not have to send a resume at all. The system will require you to cut and paste text from your resume into text boxes online.
In other cases, you will send your resume directly to a human. If that’s the case, you may want to send your resume as a PDF.
Especially if you want your resume to maintain formatting and if are applying for a creative job that requires your resume to reflect a particular skill set such as graphic design.
Why Sending a PDF of Your Resume Is Important
The best advice is to keep a file saved both ways - PDF and .docx - that way you can pull out either one in a given situation.
Here’s the thing. Handing in a resume for a job application as a PDF is a good idea if you want your resume to look exactly the way you’ve made it.
When a recruiter attempts to download a resume in a doc file, it can mess up the formatting enough to result in the accidental removal or rearrangement of content.
That’s why choosing the right format for sending a resume is important. Even if the ATS robots can read it - people need to have a good experience too.
Another thing about PDF resumes is that you can create them using software like Photoshop or InDesign, which gives you much more freedom in how you layout or graphically design your resume.
It’s a good idea for creatives to use PDF if they want to do something fancy with the design of their resume.
You can always copy and paste text from a PDF if you are going to fill in an online application and then send your full resume in PDF file formatting later when a hiring manager has invited you to do so.
Ultimately, it’s up to you, but it’s easy to export a Word resume in doc format into a PDF format and vice versa to have both.
With the birth of Applicant Tracking System software, it is now more crucial than ever to remember that tiny details such as how you save your resume are important.
It may not seem like a big deal, but if you send a resume that is not formatted to pass through ATS software, then there is virtually no chance of your resume reaching a human recruiter.
If you want to keep your resume in the running, make sure you’ve given yourself a fighting chance by creating both a Word resume and a PDF resume.
Still not convinced that one format is better than the other? Let us know in the comments, and we will do what we can to address your concerns. Thanks for reading!
Free Cover Letter Templates for Microsoft Word
A good cover letter can mean the difference between catching the hiring manager’s attention and languishing in job search limbo. But many job seekers find it hard to stare down that blank page. How do you summarize your most important qualifications in way that makes it clear that you’re the best candidate for the job?
Cover letter templates can help. A template will give you a "fill in the blank" format you can use to create your own letter to send with your resume when you apply for a job.
It will save you a few steps and help you structure your letter in a professional way.
Free Microsoft cover letter templates are available online from Microsoft Office Online, as a download for Microsoft Word users, or are available within your Word program, to use to create cover letters for jobs. Note that not all templates may work with all versions of Word, so check before you download. There will be a message next to the download button advising if there are restrictions.
Not a Microsoft user? Google Docs also has free template samples available for letters and resumes. Using any of these templates can help you to feel confident that you are properly writing and formatting your cover letter.
Free Microsoft Word Cover Letter Templates
There are a variety of templates available for Microsoft Word. Template options include general cover letters and both job- and career-specific cover letter samples.
For example, there are cover letter templates for professionals, temporary workers, and candidates who are sending in their resumes unsolicited.
Microsoft Word also offers a variety of different cover letter template designs, with resume templates to match. Note that if you choose one of these fancier template designs, you’ll want to choose a resume template to match.
It’s important to be consistent in your application materials, whether it’s matching your cover letter to your resume or choosing a font or format. Ideally, your experience should stand out to the hiring manager, not your stylistic choices.
To Access Cover Letters From Your Computer:
Open Microsoft Word, then click on:
Then, search for online templates by typing your keywords (e.g., “cover letter”) in the field provided.
How to Access the Microsoft Cover Letter Templates
If you don’t own a copy of Microsoft Office or a subscription to Microsoft 365, you can still access cover letter templates via Microsoft Office Online. These templates are free and editable online.
Visit the Microsoft Cover Letter Templates website, browse the cover letter templates, then click on the title to preview the sample. You'll need to sign up for a free account to edit the document.
Once you find a template you like, click Edit In Browser, then follow the instructions to customize and save your cover letter.
There are also sets, which include matching resumes and cover letters, available to use.
Use the Template to Create a Customized Cover Letter
Once you have downloaded or opened a cover letter template file, type over the text in the file to create your own, personalized cover letter.
The template will include all the relevant information that you need to include in your document. Simply change the generic version to include your personal and professional information.
It's a good idea to include additional details about your qualifications and experience. Take the time to match your qualifications to the job description. Include keywords related to your skills and achievements.
To customize your cover letter further, look for a contact person at the company, ideally the hiring manager or HR contact, and address the letter to this person. If you have an employee contact at the company who is willing to refer you, be sure to mention them as soon as possible in the cover letter. Employee referrals carry a lot of weight with hiring managers.
Double-check to make sure there is none of the template information left in your final saved version.
Carefully proofread for grammar and typographical errors before saving and sending your cover letter.
To avoid sending a blank template or the wrong version of your cover letter, choose a file name that’s easy to remember. It should always include your name, and may also contain the name of the position to which you’re applying. Avoid version numbers and cutesy nicknames.
More Templates for Resumes and Letters
More Microsoft Letter Templates
Microsoft letter templates are available as a free download for Microsoft Word users or are available within your Word program, to use to create a variety of letters. There are letter templates for cover letters, resignation letters, reference letters, thank you letters, interview letters, and a variety of business letters.
Microsoft Word Resume Templates
Microsoft resume templates are available as a free download for Microsoft Word users to use to create a resume. Microsoft Word resume options include basic resumes, job-specific resumes, and career-specific resumes.