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Once you’ve put the final touches on your resume and are ready to apply for a job, the big question becomes, do you save and send it as PDF file or a Word file? There are advantages and disadvantages to using both, and it largely depends on how it is being submitted. Before you decide, consider whether your resume will likely be sorted first by a computer, or if it is going directly to an individual. If it is going into human hands, a PDF can be beneficial; if it will be scanned by a computer, Word may be the way to go.

Here are a few pros and cons for each format:

  • Saving your resume as a PDF ensures that all formatting remains the same regardless of whether a potential employer is opening it up on a Mac, PC, laptop, tablet, or other device.
  • Word files are readable by all ATS, so the program can easily pick out keywords and phrases; this is still an issue with PDF files, but many employers are updating ATS software to read PDF files more easily. There may still be flaws, however.
  • PDF image files (when you scan your resume and save as PDF) are often not compatible with ATS. Use the original Word file, go to “Save As,” and change the document type to “PDF” to convert the file instead if you’re going this route.
  • PDF files are less vulnerable to viruses than Word documents.
  • If you are using Word, choose to save as a .doc, not .docx. Not everyone is using a newer version of Word, so .docx files are not always compatible.
  • Recruiters may prefer a Word file because they often remove identifying information or add their logo before passing along resumes to employers.
  • PDF files are a good way to go if you are passing your resume along through a direct contact because you know it will not be altered in transit.

However, before you worry yourself about which format to use, check the job application. Some employers specify what file type they want or can accept. If they ask for a PDF document, send a PDF document. If they want you to copy and paste, then copy and paste. If given the choice, it is often safer to use a Word file because you know it will be readable by ATS.

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