Should I Send My Resume as a PDF or Word File Format?

The question of whether to send your resume as a PDF or Word file has become more important over the last few years. Many job seekers prefer to send their resumes as a PDF because the formatting is not likely to get scrambled when the document is transferred from one computer to another. However, some employers don't like getting PDFs and don't even bother to open them. So you need to consider who you are sending your resume to and which format works best for them.

When to Send Your Resume as an MS Word File

If you are sending your resume to an employer who uses an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to manage collecting, sorting, and reviewing resumes, it's best to send the MS Word format of your resume. Not all ATS's are the same and some cannot read and process a PDF document. In an ideal world, if you sent your resume as a PDF and the employer could not process it, she would contact you to request that you resubmit your resume as a Word doc. But that's not likely to happen (unless you know someone at the firm who would do you that favor). Most employers have enough applicant resumes pouring in that they just toss the ones that aren't formatted to their specs. To be sure you don't fall into that unfortunate group, send your resume as an MS Word doc.

When to Send Your Resume as a PDF

There are two circumstances when you should send your resume as a PDF:

  1. If the employer specifically request a PDF resume.
  2. If you are sending your resume to someone you know who will let you know if they have trouble opening it once they get it.

What If You Don't Know Which Resume Format to Use?

If you don't know what format the employer expects and you can't find out, send your resume as an MS Word file rather than a PDF. And, for heaven's sake, if the employer states "No PDFs" or something to that effect, don't send a PDF! Employers like job applicants who follow directions, so show them you can do that by sending the format that works for your potential next boss.

More on Resume File Formats

You might also want to check out these resources:

Good File Name for Resume: How to Make the Most of It
Here's how to write a file name for your resume document so it's easy for a potential employer to find when it's on his hard drive. Learn the right way to include your name and job title, and to use the correct punctuation.

The Best Resume Format
Does having the best resume format really matter? You bet it does! A good resume format makes it easy for an employer to see — in a few red-hot seconds — that you have the qualifications to do the job — and do it well!

100+ Great Resume Examples
Here's my ever-growing collection of resume samples grouped by career type, format used, and problem solved. Each resume was either written or reviewed by a member of Susan Ireland's Resume Team. Browse through them to find ideas for making your resume the best it can be.

Susan Ireland Resume Author Susan Ireland is the author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Perfect Resume and creator of Susan Ireland's Ready-Made Resume Builder.