Word or pdf resume

Is It Better To Send a Resume as a PDF or a Word Doc?

There are many important elements to a job search, from networking to resume writing, interviewing, and salary negotiation, so selecting the right type of resume file to submit to a potential employer can often be an afterthought or overlooked entirely. However, choosing whether to submit your resume as a PDF or Word doc is an important consideration.


resume on computer


Which file type is better for my resume, PDF or word?

In many ways, knowing if it’s better to send a resume as a PDF or a Word doc depends on the situation, which we’ll examine below. At the end of the day, though, every job seeker benefits by having a version of their resume saved in both file types – that way, you’ll have the flexibility to use your PDF resume or your resume .docx.

The first step to deciding whether you should submit your resume as a PDF or a Word doc is critical but also very simple: read the application instructions provided by the employer. Many job postings specify how the hiring manager/recruiter would like to receive resumes, so if they request the resume be sent as a PDF, that’s what you should submit.


But what if they don’t specify a resume file type? What if they say to send the resume in PDF or Word?

When in doubt, use the Word doc.

Word documents are the preferred resume file type for applicant tracking systems (ATSs) because they are easier to parse than a PDF, so if you are applying for a job through an ATS, make your resume a .docx (or .doc).  PDFs do have a lot of benefits: anyone can open them, they work on Macs and PCs, they’re read-only files, and they maintain the intended formatting. However, there are also a couple of big drawbacks as far as the ATS is concerned: PDFs make text extraction (AKA, parsing) difficult and they are easily corruptible.


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Why don’t PDF resumes parse as well as Word docs?

Here’s where things get a bit technical. ATS companies use parsing software to “read” the resume. This parsing software basically goes through the document from top to bottom and pulls out the material into different categories like contact information, work experience, education, etc. This is why your resume’s formatting is so important – if your resume is not formatted well, the parsing software can struggle to identify and categorize your information properly.

Many times, the parsing software that is “reading” the resume will struggle with PDFs because a line break gets inserted at the end of every line. This means that sentences can get split up unintentionally and keywords can be overlooked. For example, say an employer is looking for someone with customer relationship management skills. You’ve included that in your resume, but “management” is on a separate line from “customer relationship.” If your resume is a PDF, the ATS may not find “customer relationship management,” and you may miss out on an interview.


When should I send my resume as a PDF?

There are two scenarios where a PDF resume is preferable over a Word doc. First, if you are using an employment website that allows you to make your resume searchable, then uploading your PDF resume will ensure your formatting is displayed as you intended.

The second scenario where sending your resume as a PDF makes the most sense is when you are communicating directly with the hiring manager or recruiter. When sending the resume as an attachment in an email, go with the PDF version because it’s read-only and you know the recipient will be able to view the document with your formatting intact (remember to review those application instructions though – if an employer requests that you email your resume as a Word doc, don’t send them a PDF instead).

To sum up:

  • Should I send my resume as a pdf? If you’re emailing it directly to the hiring manager/recruiter, and they don’t ask for a Word doc, then yes. Otherwise go with the Word doc.
  • What if an employer says to submit the resume as pdf or word? Use the Word version of your resume (.docx or .doc) just to be safe.
  • Is it better to send a resume as PDF or Word? The preferred ATS resume file type is a Word doc, so make your resume a .docx or .doc to get the best results from the parsing software.


Now that you know which situations call for a PDF resume and when you’re better off using a Word doc, make sure that the content of your resume is strong enough to generate interest from employers. Whether you’re creating your first resume with little to no experience or you’re a seasoned professional making a career change, iHire can help you create an interview-winning resume

by: Freddie Rohner
July 29, 2022

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