PDF or Word: What Is the Best Resume Format?

May 23, 2024
10 min
best resume format

Choosing the right resume format for a job is a seemingly small decision that can determine how hiring managers view and handle your CV.

Many applications aren't even considered due to simple issues like submitting the wrong file type. To guarantee compatibility with Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), which are widely used by companies to screen applicants, it's essential to select the correct format, be it a PDF or Word resume. Only applications that the ATS identifies as suitable are forwarded to the hiring manager.

In this article, we'll compare how well PDF to Word perform as resume formats, cover their pros and cons, and guide you through the document conversion process.

PDF vs Word: Overview of the most common job resume formats

So, should you submit your CV in Word or PDF format? Let's compare the two.

Presentation & impact
Software variations can affect document formatting and appearance.
Preserves formatting across all platforms, enhancing professionalism.
File size
Files with images and formatting may be larger.
Generally smaller.
ATS compatibility
Easily scanned by most ATS.
Works best with text-based PDFs.
Viewing access
Requires Word-compatible software.
Viewable with any PDF reader.
Editing access
Easy to edit.
Editing requires specific software.
Less secure, easily altered.
More secure, hard to alter without special tools.
File sharing
Potential compatibility issues.
Widely accepted and easy to share.

When to submit your resume as a PDF file

When you're job hunting, choosing a professional resume format is essential to make a strong impression and advance to the interview stage. To help you decide, let's examine the advantages and disadvantages of using PDFs.

Pros of the PDF format for resumes

  • Formatting consistency. When you upload your resume as a PDF, you're ensuring that it maintains its original layout and appearance on any device or platform. That reduces the risk of formatting errors that could create a negative impression.

  • ATS compatibility. Most modern ATS systems can effectively scan and read PDF resumes as long as they don't contain complex formatting. This means your text-based PDF is likely to be processed accurately.

  • Professional appearance. PDFs maintain a polished look because the formatting remains unchanged. Additionally, it avoids the red underlines that often mark spelling errors in Word documents, which can mistakenly flag correct industry terms and proper nouns.

  • Security. You can password-protect your PDF file to make it read-only so that hiring managers won't be able to edit it, either accidentally or intentionally.

  • Accessibility. Your resume can be opened on different devices and operating systems, making it easily accessible to hiring managers.

Cons of PDF as a resume format

  • Change tracking. Unlike Word documents, which offer built-in tracking features, it's hard to monitor modifications made to your resume.

  • File size. PDFs tend to be larger compared to Word documents.

  • Editing. Making changes to your resume can be challenging, but you have options. You could use an online resume editor, built-in software, or a third-party app. resume pdf or word

When to send your resume as a Word document

Considering whether to submit your resume in Word? Let’s explore this option.

Pros of the Word format for resumes

  • ATS compatibility. Files compatible with ATS software ensure seamless analysis during the recruitment process, thus enhancing the visibility of your resume. Word documents take the lead in this case.

  • File size. Word docs typically occupy less space than PDFs, which is beneficial when there are restrictions on file size.

  • Editability. You can send a Word file to friends or career advisors, asking them to edit your CV before submission since this format allows for easy editing, collaborative feedback, and suggestions.

Cons of Word as a resume format

  • Formatting. Word documents often display formatting inconsistencies across various devices and software, potentially compromising the appearance and readability of your resume.

  • Security. Without proper security measures, your document can be changed by others without permission.

Key considerations on resumes: PDF or Word?

Before you hit the submit button on your job application, it's crucial to consider several factors regarding your resume format and delivery.

Pay attention to job posting guidelines

Always check the job listing for any specific instructions. If the employer specifies a preferred file type, ensure you comply with this requirement.

Understand how ATS works

While it may not be possible for you to find out which exact ATS a certain company is using, it's helpful to understand how these systems work in general. Most ATS can read PDF files if the formatting isn't overly complex.

Fill in all the fields required

Double-check for inconsistencies and ensure your information is presented accurately in the system. When writing a resume, be sure to proofread it to catch any errors in format or layout. Make any necessary edits.

Keep the resume editable if needed

If you want to allow others to edit your resume, PDF isn’t the best choice. Send it in a Word format. However, for the final submission, convert your file to the format specified in the job description.

How to edit a PDF resume using PDF Guru?

How to edit a PDF resume

Our tool offers a simple and efficient way to edit your resume. Here's how to do it:

  1. 1

  2. Log into your account and navigate to the Edit PDF tool.
  3. 2

  4. Upload or drag & drop your document into the designated area.
  5. 3

  6. Make necessary changes to your PDF file: modify text, replace images, etc.
  7. 4

  8. Review your document thoroughly.
  9. 5

  10. Click Done, choose your desired format, and then Download.

PDF Guru also offers several tools to simplify your document management. You can compress, sign, merge, split, and annotate in just a few seconds.

How to convert a Word resume to PDF?

Did you know you can save your resume as a PDF file after creating it in Microsoft Word? Here's how you can achieve it in a few clicks.

  1. 1

  2. If the file has already been saved, go to File > Save a Copy. If it's a new file, choose File > Save As.
  3. 2

  4. Click Browse to pick where you'd like to save the file.
  5. 3

  6. From the drop-down menu, choose PDF.
  7. 4

  8. Hit Save.

Use PDF Guru as a resume converter

Our tool is a one-stop shop for your document conversions, from Word to PDF or PDF to Word. It quickly changes file formats while maintaining their formatting and quality.

And what if you used PDF or Word for a resume and got that scary “your file is too large” alert? Well, here is a quick solution — our Compress PDF tool can quickly reduce size of your file while preserving its original quality, ensuring your document is ready for submission.

As an online resume editor, PDF Guru continually expands its functionality and knowledge base to improve your proficiency in managing documents. If you have any questions or suggestions — contact us at support@pdfguru.com.

So, what’s the best resume format?

Typically, it’s PDF. This file type keeps the formatting intact, ensuring your CV looks professional and consistent across devices. However, some companies prefer Word files, so always check the job listing requirements first.