How to Select the File Format for Your Resume

resume with summary

It is often the last thing you think about when writing a resume, but the file format you select for your resume is extremely important. If you send your resume in a format that is impossible or simply difficult for the employer to open, he or she may toss out your application.

How to Select the File Format for Your Resume

According to employer surveys, 99% of employers want a .doc (a Microsoft Word file) or a PDF file of your resume.

However, there are a number of factors to consider when selecting your resume format.

Follow Any Directions

The file format an employer wants may vary based on the company's applicant tracking system (ATS). For example, some tracking systems are not compatible with PDF files. The employer may also ask for a particular format depending on how you are submitting your resume – posting it online or emailing. If you are posting your resume online, there should instructions on which file format to use and how to upload your resume. Some job listings even specify in which format you should email your resume.

It's very important to follow the instructions in the job posting. Don't send a different file format or your resume may not be viewable and/or may not even be reviewed.

Be careful about saving your resume as a .docx file, which is the default in the latest versions of Microsoft Word since 2007.

While .docx is becoming more and more common, not all applicant tracking systems can read them, and your resume may come out garbled. Instead, save your resume as a .doc file.

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.

Under “Format,” select “Word 2004-2007 Document (.doc).”

Naming Your Resume

Whatever format you choose, make sure the title of the resume file is clear and straightforward for the employer. Unless the job application advises otherwise, use your name as the file name (i.e. JaneDoeResumed.doc.), not simply the word “Resume.” Here's more on how to name your resume.

Don’t Give The Employer Extra Work

The goal is to make it as easy as possible for the employer to open your resume and learn about your qualifications. Therefore, follow directions carefully, and keep your format and resume title as straightforward as possible.