What’s the Best File Format to Submit Your Resume?

Do we need to care about resume file formats?

This is one of the least considered factors when it comes to the perfect resume writing, but perhaps the most important and the most relevant. If you submit your job application with a hard copy resume, then you will not have this problem ever. But here, we’re talking about the soft copy version of your resume.

In the modern world, almost all companies are using ATS to track the applicants and streamline their hiring process. Therefore, no one is going to apply for a job with hard copy resumes. Everyone has been instructed to submit their resumes online. Here comes the real problem. What is the best file format to save your resume or the job application cover letter to land your dream job – fast?

When finding a solution to this problem, we have to think differently. That means we need to make sure that the file can be opened by the recruiter with no problem and also, we need to be sure that the resume file format is supported by the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) as well. That’s why you need to pay more attention to the resume file format and cover letter format.

However, it is better to save/submit your resume and cover letter always with a universally supportive resume file format.

reason to save your resume in PDF file format

Best file formats to save your document?

There are various ways in which we can save a resume or cover letter. Let’s look at each file format and check all the pros and cons.

1. PDF File Format (Portable Document Format)

This is the best resume file format recommended by 99% of top recruiters. It is also renowned as the safest file format to send through emails. The reason for this is that you can submit the relevant document to the recruiter or the recruiting agency without altering the original content. The other important thing is that a PDF file format is compatible with any operating systems like Mac, Windows etc.

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  • Compatible with any operating system such as Windows or Mac.
  • It reduces the risk of sending viruses with the file.
  • No one can change or modify the document after you submit it.
  • The document looks more professional and clean.


  • Make sure that the PDF can be read by an ATS. Otherwise, you will not be able to beat ATS and you will never get a job opportunity.

2. Word Document (.Doc or .Docx)

If you make your document in Microsoft Office or Google Docs, you can save your resume in .DOC or .DOCX file format. This particular format is popular for resumes when sent as an email attachment. Some recruiters also encourage the applicants to submit their resume and cover letters in the DOCX format. So the recruiters can edit your document if they need to make any comments about yours.

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  • It’s very readable even to an Applicant Tracking System (ATS).
  • It’s the most popular file format for resumes and cover letters.
  • Can be easily opened in any kind of device.
  • If the company uses resume screening software such as ATS, resume in word format is a very safe option.


  • Some recruiters do not recommend this file type as it has some virus risks.


Resumes and cover letters in HTML format can be introduced as a new trend in career search. It can be easily published on a website or easily sent as an email attachment by creating a resume or cover letter in HTML-format.

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  • Resume can be posted on a website.
  • The reader can preview your resume in the email browser without downloading it.


  • You may require separate softwares to view the document.
  • Some browsers may not support HTML.

4. Hard Copy

Even now everything is going digital, some recruiters still prefer to read resumes in hard copy format. Still, they are not comfortable with soft copies. Perhaps it is because the recruiters need to keep remarks on the candidates’ documents. Usually, hard copy resumes are requested by small-scale companies which do not use resume screening software to shortlist candidates. If the particular company uses software such as ATS, they will request you to submit the resumes either in PDF or Word format.

5. Text Format

A resume in text format is ideal for ATS scan as it contains only plain text without any graphical materials. The biggest advantage of having your resume or cover letter in text format is that you can send it within the email body. Though it is best on ATS, we can’t guarantee it for the human eye because it is not visually appealing.

Things to consider about your resume file when posting resume online

When you apply for a job through LinkedIn Easy Apply they clearly point out that you should only submit your resume as a DOC, DOCX, or PDF. They also show the maximum file size of a resume. Accordingly, if you are applying for a job through LinkedIn Easy Apply, make sure your resume size is less than 2 MB.

It is also important to include an updated version of your resume. We have written an article on how to tweak a resume according to the job you are applying for. We invite you to read that also before submitting your resume via LinkedIn Easy Apply.

Resume submimtting screen in LinkedIn Easy Apply

Similarly, other online job boards and even employment websites have specified the file format in which your resume should be submitted. Read those directions carefully and create your resume accordingly.

How to name your Resume or Cover Letter?

Once you have chosen the best file format, the next task is to decide the name for the file. You should put a clean and clear name for your document.

If it is a resume, save it with the word resume followed by your first and last name. In between the names you can use underscore if you prefer. For example:

  • Jacksonsmithresume.pdf
  • Jackson_smith_resume.docx
  • JacksonResume.pdf

Similarly when you save your cover letter include at least your first name or last name as a part of the file name. See the below examples:

  • Janesmith_coverletter.pdf
  • coverletterjanesmith.doc

What to avoid when Saving your Document?

Never save the document in an image file format such as PNG, JPG, JPEG. Because an ATS can not read the text on an image.

Why do we need to care about ATS?

Our best advice to you is to save the document in both PDF and .docx file formats as it will give you the opportunity to present any resume file format in a given situation. Though saving and naming a resume or a cover letter is a simple and easy task, it can make a great contribution to your job search even without you knowing it. Therefore, don’t take this point lightly.