What Resume Format Is Best for an Email Attachment?

It's 2012. Why do most employers still want you to send them a resume format in Word 2003? And why Word? Doesn't a PDF resume look better?

And what happened to the idea that a resume shouldn't be sent as an email attachment? There was a time — just a few short years ago — when only Plain Text resume formats were advised for sending via email.

Well, a lot has changed... technology has improved. We can now send a resume email attachment and be pretty much sure that it will arrive in good shape. And that attached resume can be processed by human resources without a hassle... as long as we follow a few rules.

Why Employer's Like Getting a Resume in Word

Most employers prefer getting resumes formatted in MS Word because Word documents can easily be put into an ATS (recruiting database system called an Applicant Tracking System) for keyword search, storage, sorting, and distribution. Most ATS's can't search PDF's so you want to send a Word version of your resume.

What Resume Format in Word Should You Use?

Send your MS Word resume as a .doc (not a .docx) version. In other words, don't assume the recruiter or manager is using MS Word 2007 (or later), which generates a .docx file. All these years later, many are still using earlier versions of Word. By saving your resume in an earlier version (with the .doc extension), you ensure that it can be opened and read by someone using any version of Word on either a Windows or Mac platform.

How to Convert Your Resume to Word 2003

Here's a quick guide for making sure your attachment is in the correct version.

If you're a Word 2007 or later user, save your resume document to an earlier version. Here's how:
1. Click the Office Button (the colorful logo in a circle found in the upper left corner of your MS Word 2007 window).
2. Select Save As.
3. Select Word 97-2003 document.
That will convert the document to a .doc file, which can be opened and read by any employer, no matter which version of Word he uses and whether he uses a Windows or Mac platform.

If you use a version of Word that's earlier than 2007, you don't have to do any conversion. Just attach the .doc file of your resume to your email.

Don't Want to Fuss With Converting Your Resume Format?

I don't blame you for not wanting to go through the steps for converting your format. The easy way around it is to start with a document in Word 2003 so you don't have to convert later.

That's what I do even though I have later versions of Word. I like to work in the earlier version that gives me the .doc extension from the git-go. In fact, all the resume templates in my Ready-Made Resume Builder are in Word 2003 so they're ready to be attached to email or uploaded online.

Do You Need a Resume Formatted in Plain Text?

You probably don't need a Plain Text resume. Most online systems have no problem accepting resume formats in Word and most email systems can transfer a Word formatted resume without any (or much) problem. Once in awhile you may encounter an issue or get a request from an employer to send a Plain Text resume. If so, follow these steps: Convert Your Resume to Plain Text.