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Should I Submit a Resume as a Word Doc or PDF?

Your resume is proofread and ready to go! Now, it’s time to submit it. But what format should you send in? Let’s find out.

Two Main Types of Formats

A Word Doc and Portable Document Format (PDF) are the two main types of formats that employers expect. One isn’t necessarily better than the other. It’s really just a matter of preference. That said, they each have their own pros and cons.

Word Doc

Virtually everyone uses Microsoft Word. It’s the universal document format. So you can pretty much guarantee that any employer you send your resume to via a Word Doc will be able to open it.

It can also be easily read on Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software. With so many employers using ATS platforms to filter through resumes by keywords and other criteria, this can potentially increase your chances of being found. And this is important when there are dozens or even hundreds of other applicants.

The main issue with a Word Doc is the formatting can sometimes get messed up if a recruiter opens it with a tool other than Word.


Because most employers can access Google Drive, nearly everyone can open a PDF file on their computer or device. It’s nice because they’re not even required to download anything, and it can be viewed with a single click within an email. This means that employers don’t have to deal with the threat of viruses, which is a plus in their eyes. Another benefit is the formatting is always retained with a PDF, so you don’t have to worry about the information getting messed up on an employer’s end.

The primary drawback is that certain ATS software may have difficulty reading a PDF. In turn, your resume may get lost in the shuffle, making it harder to catch the attention of a recruiter. However, HireRight points out that most modern ATS platforms are now capable of reading PDFs. So it’s not a huge deal.

Which One Should I Choose?

First and foremost, pay attention to any resume formatting instructions on the job posting. Many employers will only accept a specific type of format. Otherwise, most experts give the slight edge to PDFs. Why?

They tend to look better, and you don’t have to deal with formatting issues. This means it’s easier to stand out from the competition. It also takes less time, which makes it easier on the employer.

Word Doc versus PDF is a classic debate when formatting a resume. Understanding the subtle differences between the two as well as their pros and cons should help you make the right choice.

Let the experts at Axiom Staffing Group help accelerate your job search. Contact us today!