How to Name Your Resume and Cover Letter

Tips for Naming Your Resume and Cover Letter Documents

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When you are applying for jobs, it's important to name your resume in a way that makes it clear that the resume is yours, not just any random candidate’s. The best way to do this is to use a file name that includes your name. This way, hiring managers will know whose resume it is and it will be easier for them to track and manage it; it’s also less likely that they’ll lose it, or get your materials confused with someone else’s.

Most importantly, remember that hiring managers and other people who will interview you are quite likely to see your cover letter and resume's file names, so make sure they are professional and appropriate. Now is not the time to pull out your AIM screen names from middle school. Save the joke names for your private social media accounts, and keep these file names simple.

How and What to Name Your Resume

Don't email or upload your resume with the name resume.doc, unless you want a harried human resources associate to save over your file with someone else’s. With a generic file name, there will be no way to distinguish it from all the other resumes with the same name. Instead, use your name as the file name.

If you name your resume janedoeresume.doc, Jane Doe Resume.doc, or Jane-Doe-Resume.pdf, the employer will know whose resume it is at a glance, and be able to associate it with the rest of your materials and application.

Consistency is important when naming your resume, cover letter, and other application documents, so use the same style throughout. You can also include the title of the position in your document name for your cover letter. You can use spaces or dashes between words; capitalizing words may help make the document name easier to read.

Avoid Using Version Numbers

If you are applying for jobs frequently, it's possible that you have several versions of your resume saved on your computer. Avoid including version numbers (e.g., John-Smith-Resume-10-1.doc) in your file name, and other cryptic codes.

You want to avoid giving the impression that this job is halfway down a long list of potential opportunities. A hiring manager who sees “resume-10” as part of your file name will wonder what resumes 1 through 9 looked like, and whether you’re just applying for every job in town. Instead, make sure all the information in the file name is pertinent to employers, typo-free, and easy to read.

Develop a filing system on your computer to keep track of the different versions of your resume, rather than using the file name for that purpose, and make sure that proofed, ready-to-go resumes are stored in a separate area from drafts.

Options for Saving Your Resume

It's important to send or upload your resume as a PDF or a Word document. This way the receiver will get a copy of your resume and cover letter in the original format.

To save your resume as a Word (.doc) document click on File, Save As, and type in the file name you are giving your resume, e.g. johndoeresume.doc.

Don't save your resume or letters as .docx files, because hiring managers without the latest version of Microsoft Word won't be able to easily open them.

To save your documents as a PDF, depending on your word processing software, you may be able to select File, Print to Adobe PDF. If not, there are free programs you can use to convert a file to a PDF. Saving your resume and cover letter as a PDF will ensure that the formatting stays the same, even if the employer uses a different word processing program or operating system.

Related: How to Email a Resume

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