Choosing the best file format for your resume

Whether you create your resume on a PC or MAC, there are numerous word processing software programs available to accommodate your style and preferences.  However, each of these programs produce a unique file extension.  For example: Microsoft word uses .doc and .docx, WordPerfect uses .wpd and Notepad uses .txt.  The program you decide to use isn’t important, but the type of file you submit to an employer is!  So what is the difference and why pick one file format over another?

File extensions offer information such as the type of data contained in the file and the program used to write it.  You may have tried to open a file before and been interrupted by a pop-up asking you which program you would like to use to open it.  This could be because you have multiple programs capable of reading it, or more commonly, your system does not have the same software and does not recognize the file extension.  Chances are, whichever program you pick, the information will not display as intended by the original author.  This is exactly the issue you want to avoid with a job application.

What if you pick the wrong file format?

For Example: if you write your resume using Microsoft Word 2016, when you save your file, the software will default to using the standard .docx file extension.  When you send this file to another person, their computer will read the file extension and attempt to open the document using Microsoft Word 2016.  But what if they don’t have Micorosft Office 2016?  Well, if they are using a current version of WordPerfect, they may be able to open the document, but chances are, the information will not be displayed as you intended.  The formatting may be mixed up because of incompatibilities between the two programs.  Even worse, if they are running Microsoft Office 2010 they will not be able to access the file at all!

This is the type of confusion you want to avoid.  When you are applying for a position it is your responsibility to ensure your resume is submitted in a readable format.  Employers receive countless applications for each job posting and will not take the time to track you down to request another format.

What is the best file format for your resume?

So, what is the safest way to submit your resume to ensure that it can easily be opened and read?  In short, always convert your resume to a Portable Document File (PDF) before submitting it to an employer!  Microsoft Reader (the software used to open and view PDF files) comes standard on most new computers and devices and can also be downloaded for free.  Therefore, you don’t need to worry about the type of software the employer uses.  As an added benefit, because PDF documents are read-only, you will have the peace of mind knowing your document cannot be edited by anyone else before being printed by the employer.

Ready to get started?  Check out our article on how to convert your resume from .docx to PDF.