Should You Send Your Resume as a PDF or Word Doc?

Elizabeth Openshaw
Elizabeth Openshaw

9 min read

Thinking man looking at dual monitor set up.

You have your resume written, formatted, and tailored just the way you want it. You’re nearly ready to send it out to impress recruiters and hiring managers. But as it’s time to click save, you stop and ponder. Which resume format, Word or PDF, are you supposed to use?

You want to get your resume noticed — but for the right reasons, not the wrong ones. Don’t panic — we’ve got you covered! 

In this post, we will share all the latest advice, and by the end, you’ll have all the details you need to make an informed as to whether you should send your resume as a PDF or Word doc. 

Before we get started, though, there is one unbreakable rule to bear in mind:

Use the file type specified in the job advert

Not all companies will specify which file type they want. However, if the job posting includes something along the lines of, “please send a resume as a PDF attachment to,” then it goes without saying that you should send your resume as a PDF attachment to that email address.

Read the job advertisement thoroughly to see if the employer prefers a certain file type. You should always send the format that the employer is asking for. Failing to do that means that, at best, they’ll think that you can’t follow a simple instruction or, at worst, that your resume will be unreadable to them. 

In the rest of this article, we’ll pick out the pros and cons of which resume format, Word or PDF, to choose if the job posting doesn’t provide specific instructions.

What are the most common file types for resumes?

The most common resume formats are:

  • Adobe PDF

  • Microsoft Word

  • Google Doc

  • TXT (Plain Text)

Of these options, the top two — PDF and Word documents — are by far the most common, so these are the two we are going to focus on within this article regarding the best resume format of Word or PDF to use.

Your best option for a resume: PDF or Word?

You’ll find plenty of Word and PDF resume examples available online that include Microsoft Word, PDF, Google Docs, or TXT, although we recommend consulting with a professional resume writer before you decide to use any of them. That’s because many of these can be more style than substance and simply aren’t suited to being scanned by the applicant tracking systems used by organizations. Such templates may do your application more harm than good.

When you’re considering which file format to use for your resume, bear in mind that each format is best suited to different purposes.

The best format for a job application

When applying for a job online a few years ago, the best format to send and upload your resume in was usually a Word document. This format is the most easily read by the majority of applicant tracking systems, also known as the ATS.

With it being increasingly common for companies to invest in sophisticated ATS software that will parse your resume in any format, you can be confident that virtually all ATS scans can accurately read a .doc file.

Most job openings now specify that both MS Word and Adobe PDF file formats are acceptable when sending over a resume.

So why take the risk of potentially getting overlooked because of your file format by choosing another type? ZipJob’s resume experts recommend submitting your resume as a Word document most of the time. You just can’t go wrong with this format!

The best file format for attaching your resume to an email

On the other hand, many job seekers pass out their resumes like business cards while job searching. If you’re sending a direct message to someone and attaching your resume, you could consider sending it as a PDF. This preserves your formatting to ensure that your resume looks the same on everyone’s screen.

However, take note: sending a resume PDF does NOT mean that it’s a good idea to use a creative or graphic resume format. The ATS, hiring managers, and recruiters all prefer traditional, single-column resumes that can be quickly scanned and understood. 

If you aren’t sure which resume format to use, this guide walks you through the three most popular resume formats for American and Canadian employers, covering chronological, functional, and hybrid-type resumes.

Below are some additional tips for choosing the most suitable file format for your resume. 

What to know about sending a PDF resume 

Many job seekers prefer sending a resume PDF, as it keeps the formatting the same for whoever views it, and it’s compatible across most operating systems.


There are some of the benefits to sending your resume as a PDF file: 

  • You know the layout that the reader sees will be exactly as you created it.

  • The reader won’t be distracted by Word’s wiggly underlines for spelling and grammar errors; not that you’d make any, but sometimes proper nouns, like employer names, can get picked up if they don’t appear in the dictionary.

  • The reader can’t make any changes to your text.


But there are also some problems with sending a resume PDF:

  • The employer or recruiter might want to make a note or highlight on your resume; if you’re sending your resume to someone for a review, the “suggest edits” feature on Word is quite valuable, and sending your resume in a PDF form removes that option.

  • A PDF can be locked — great for security, but not so great if the password doesn’t arrive with the file.

  • Although this issue is now rarer as ATS programs have evolved, some ATS may have difficulty with accurately reading a PDF file.

Should you send your resume as a PDF?

Many job seekers ask, “Does ATS read PDF?” A PDF file is acceptable to many employers — but you’re better off sending a Word document if you’re sending it to a company that uses an ATS — which is over 99% of Fortune 500 companies in 2024.

Unless you’re sending your resume to a REALLY small company, the chances are they’ll use an ATS at some point during the recruitment process. If you’re sending your resume to a recruitment agency, a Word document is often preferred because it’s easier to make edits.

Expert Tip

33% of people decide whether or not to open an email based on the subject line. We have some handy hints on the subject in this blog to ensure your email is opened every time.

What to know about sending a Word resume

A Word document is the easiest file type to edit, which gives it a huge advantage. It’s also really easy to keep your Word document neat and organized, giving it a strong advantage over other files.


A Microsoft Word document is the safest bet when submitting your resume. ZipJob recommends normally submitting a Word document because:

  • Surveys consistently show that employers and recruiters prefer a Microsoft Word document over resumes in a PDF format.

  • A Microsoft Word document is easily opened on most devices.

  • An ATS can scan a Word document much better than other types of files.


The problems associated with sending your resume as a Word document are few but include: 

  • It’s possible that the recipient can make changes to your resume — whether on purpose or by accident.

  • It may look messy if there are lots of words that are highlighted as spelling or grammatical errors. 

Expert Tip

To avoid this happening, take the time and effort to thoroughly proofread your resume. You can do this by using a spellchecker, reading it from back to front, and even asking a trusted friend or colleague to go over it to get that fresh pair of eyes.

Should you send your resume in Microsoft Word?

Do employers prefer PDF or Word? Sending your resume in Word is the safest bet. In short, it’s the format that most employers prefer for resumes, and it can easily be screened by ATS.

How to save your resume as a PDF or Word document

Assuming that you’ve written your resume in Word, all you need to do now is click “File - Save As” and then choose where on your computer you want to save it. Then, add the file name (more on that below!) and select the file type. You can do this by using the drop-down menu in the “Save As Type” field and choosing either “Word Document” or “PDF.” 

To convert a Google Doc to a PDF or Word format, click on “File – Download” and select either the Microsoft Word or the PDF option. 

Applicant tracking systems and your file format

ATS is a type of software that the majority of companies use to screen your resume. The resumes that the ATS identifies as a good match for the position are then highlighted and recommended to the hiring manager.

Over 76% of resumes submitted aren’t even considered, and a simple thing, such as an incorrect file type, may be one of the many reasons why. Other resumes can be scored poorly by the ATS for a lack of keywords, experience mismatch, or complicated formatting. Always send a Word or PDF document to ensure that your resume performs well with ATS. 

Final note: what to name your resume file

The name that you give to your file is an important factor to consider when sending out any job search documents. Your resume should be named as a combination of your name and the word “resume.”

  • ScottBrettResume.doc

  • SBrettResume.PDF

  • SBrettSalesManagerResume.PDF

Recruiters or hiring managers may sometimes need to search the database for your resume. You want to ensure that they can find your resume easily when they type in your name. It also looks more professional than naming your resume “My Resume” — they’re likely to receive hundreds of resumes with that file name! Make their job easier, and make yourself stand out, with a well-considered and easy-to-find file name. 

It’s time to send your resume out into the world!

Your file format is just one of the important factors to consider when sending out your resume. So, should your resume format be Word or PDF? Although resume PDFs are becoming more widely accepted, submitting your resume in a Microsoft Word format is still the safest bet. Though, as previously emphasized, check the job application for any guidance on which format is required, and send it in the one that is specified. If there’s any doubt at all, send a Word document that’s simple, easy to read, and specifically tailored to your career goals.

Now that you’ve saved your file, all that’s left to do is to send it out and land that interview! 

If you’d like an expert opinion on your document before you apply for your dream job, why not send it over to ZipJob for a free resume review? Armed with some advice on how to improve your document, you’ll soon be fully booked with interviews and well on your way to your next role.  

Recommended reading:

This article was originally written by Jen David and has been updated by Elizabeth Openshaw

Elizabeth Openshaw

Written by

Elizabeth Openshaw, Editor & Content Writer, Elizabeth Openshaw, Editor & Content Writer

Elizabeth Openshaw is an Elite CV Consultant with over 12 years of experience based in Brighton, UK, with an English degree and an addiction to Wordle! She is a former Journalist of 17 years with the claim to fame that she interviewed three times Grand Slam winner and former World No.1 tennis player, Andy Murray, when he was just 14 years old. You can connect with her at Elizabeth Openshaw | LinkedIn.

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