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How to Save Your Resume

One of the most common questions that I hear is the easiest to answer. How should you save your resume? It may seem like a minor detail, but there is a proper way to save your resume. Below are the basics of resume files and how to save them.

File Type

The file type refers to the application in which you save your resume. The file types for resumes include: MS Word, PDF, and plain text. Each of these file types is for a particular purpose (See below). If you select the wrong file type for a particular scenario, your resume may not be readable or acceptable.

Resume by Purpose

There are different ways in which you will submit your resume: Email upload, upload on website, copy and paste in text box on website, or presentation in person.

  • Almost all employers and recruiters prefer a resume attached to an email in an MS Word format.

  • Before submitting an alternate format (Google Docs or Pages), be absolutely sure the recruiter or employer can accept that file type. Many can't and they won't always reply to tell you that the file is unacceptable.

  • When uploading your resume on a website, follow the instructions regarding the file type preference.

  • Always use a plain text (also known as text only or ASCII) resume when copying and pasting your resume into an online text box.

  • Your printed presentation resume may be printed using any application, provided the printed copy is pristine.

File Name

Save the resume with a logical file name so the hiring employer can identify you. In other words, saving it as “My Resume,” “Analyst Resume,” or “Resume for IBM” is not wise. Instead, make your resume easy to identify by naming it “Smith, Kara-Resume.” Recruiters and hiring managers are flooded with resumes that are labeled, "Resume." It is easier for someone to forward your resume to a colleague if they don’t have to stop save and rename your file. Besides being basic branding, it shows you are thinking about making things easier for the other person.

PDF or Not

Not. Here’s why. Many people send PDF resumes because they like the fact that their resume will appear the same on the receiver’s screen as intended. That may be true. However, many recruiters and employers use ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) and not all ATS can read PDF files well. For that reason, only send a PDF resume if the employer or recruiter specifically asks for a PDF. If you are a fan of the PDF, investigate the employer's career page or recruiter's site to determine the file type preferences. You might be able to use it, but be sure before you try.

If you have questions about how to save your resume, feel free to ask me.

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