Resume PDF or DOC: Choose the Best File Format for Your Resume


Creating a resume is not as easy as it might seem at first glance. There are a vast number of options and recommendations from HR professionals. You may doubt from the choice of the writing structure to “should I upload my resume in pdf or word “questions.

It doesn’t matter if you buy your resume, use the resume writing services, or create it by yourself. In any case, you should stay on top of new trends if you are job hunting.

For this purpose, we decided to create an open guide on how to choose between resumes pdf or word file formats. In this article, you will find all the PDF and DOC pros and cons, and the answers to relevant questions about writing resume papers.

What Do the Recruiters Notice First When They Receive Your Resume?

Resume file format

When you get a file via email, you hardly ever paid attention to its format, right? You just download it, open it, and start to work. We are so used to operating on the Internet that we do not pay attention to such details. What is the difference in what format to send or receive files?

For us, most likely (depending on your profession), there is no distinction. However, for a recruiter, this is a critical point. So, if the vacancy description says that only DOC or DOCX files are accepted, nobody will even open your PDF paper.


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Last job position

The previous workplace shows skills and practical experience. A correctly written description will indicate your achievements and level of specialization. Based on this data, the personnel officer will immediately understand whether you are suitable for this vacancy or not. The recruiter may also be interested in your reason for dismissal: the employee was fired or decided to leave by choice.

Companies & Brands

The name and reputation of the company in which the candidate worked before the dismissal. Information about the scope of the organization and its business status can also affect the decision of the HR manager.

For example, if for the last two years, you have been working hard in a little-known firm, this will not make a proper impression. But if you had a monthly internship in Google or Apple, this data will 99,9% provide you with an interview invitation.

General work experience

If the duration in the last place was short-lived, the recruiter might pay attention to the total length of career experience. How long did the potential employee work at other companies? Were his/her professional duties related to specialized education? Did the person manage to build a career? And much more…

Description of the work experience in your resume document is an essential part that plays a key role for human resources specialists.

Professional keywords

In several medium-to-large companies, the first who usually considers your papers is the special program – Applicant Tracking System (ATS). The task of this program is to scan your document on work experience and keywords. Resumes that will not meet the requirements of the company will be rejected automatically.

How to get through the ATS filter? The task is challenging! Sometimes, it’s best to entrust this job to a resume writing service. But if you create a document by yourself, then try to use (as much as possible) words presented in the vacancy description.

What File Type Should My Resume Be in?

Try to choose whether to send resume in word or pdf format? As we mentioned above, the easiest way to find out is to read the job description carefully.

The announcement may say: “provide resume files in .pdf format only.” Then the choice is obvious, and you 100% know what the employer expects from you.

Sometimes, you may even be asked to insert a small piece of the resume text into the email, and attach no files. It is quite a rare situation, but possible. In this case, do not attach the resume file, even if you already have one. It is necessary to follow the instructions!

What to do when you have a choice? In this case, you should choose the resume format PDF or DOC by yourself. Read on. We will analyze each of them, and will try to figure out the best format to save resume.

Submit Resume as Word or PDF?

The Word Document format is considered the most popular and usable among users. It is the standard file format created by Microsoft company. The reputation of this format directly depends on the Microsoft Word text program popularity. 

So, the history of the DOC format began with the Microsoft Word program (a simple text editor, at that time). Since then, each new version of Microsoft Word brought with it a new version of the DOC format, which always a little bit differs from the previous one. But for some reason, Microsoft did not care about backward compatibility. It means that a file created and formatted in the latest version of the Word editor may look different in all previous ones. In other words, if the recruiter has an outdated version of Microsoft Word, your resume may look dissimilar. 

However, if you choose to send resume as WORD or PDF file, the DOC has several advantages:

  • saves all information about text formats and styles
  • with high probability can be read on the recipient’s computer
  • one of the most common text editors
  • other text editors can import this format
  • preferred by recruitment agencies because it allows them to improve or brand documents 
  • easily scanned by ATS systems
  • most HR services prefer .docx files

DOC or DOCX for resume? What the difference? 

The DOC format obeys all Microsoft text editors by default. The DOCX will not be reflected in 2003, and earlier versions of Microsoft Word. Its support begins with Microsoft Word 2007. But chances that the personnel officer will use the 2003 version of the Word is very very small. Therefore, you can safety use this file format for your resume files. 

Should You Send Resume as PDF?

The main difference of the PDF format is its machine and platform independence. It means that any resume of this format can be opened in any operating system, remain the same look. Thus, deciding between to submit resume in WORD or PDF, the PDF file will 100% open on any device of the recipient, even on the phone. 

If to google “should I send resume as pdf,” you can find a lot of pros: 

  • saves all information about the document format
  • readable on various computer platforms
  • many programs can work with it
  • it is an open standard
  • PDF resume is usually virus free

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Cons of PDF and DOCX Resume Formats

We already know that each format has its advantages. So, before to send resume as PDF or DOCX, let’s look at the cons of each.

PDF format disadvantages:
  • Not all ATS systems can process PDF files.
  • Some ATS systems may skip part of the information in a PDF file.
  • Now all recruiters download files to read, so if they do not have PDF reader, they will skip your resume.
DOC format disadvantages:
  • Valuable resume information may be incorrectly changed or accidentally deleted.
  • May contain viruses.
  • The file design can be altered if the document is opened via different programs.

Best File Format for Resume

The whole process of working with electronic documents can be divided into 3 main stages – creation, transfer, and storage. The Microsoft Word processor is a clear leader as it is installed on almost every office computer. Word is easy to use and it has excellent functionality. So, it is a perfect format for file creating. When the full-fledged editor for creating PDF files simply do not exist.

But for storing and sending resumes, the PDF format is way better than DOC. Firstly, because it is platform independence — secondly, it has free programs for viewing. Also, PDF files are always virus-free.

As you can see, it’s not so easy to find one perfect format for your resume file. Thus, we can draw the straightforward conclusion that it is best to create resume files in the DOC format and then convert to PDF for storage and forwarding. However, if you still doubt whether to attach resume as PDF or WORD, reread the job description. Most likely, you find the answer there.

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