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Should You Submit Your Resume as a PDF or Word Doc? 5 Rules to Follow

By | Regina Borsellino |

You’ve found the perfect job opening for you. You’ve written and tailored your resume so that it shows exactly why you’re the best person for this job. But when you go to actually submit it, you hit a dilemma: What file format is best? Should you upload your resume as a PDF or as a Word document?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a universally correct answer. Some job search experts recommend PDFs while others swear by Word. But the best answer would probably be that it depends on where and how you’re sending your resume. And there are a few rules you can follow to make the right choice for your specific job application situation.

Rule 1: Follow Any Application Directions

“You always want to follow instructions,” says Muse career coach Emily Liou, founder of CultiVitae and former in-house recruiter for Fortune 500 companies and headhunter for staffing agencies. If a company asks for a certain file type for your resume, listen to them. They are the authority on what they’re looking for, so if they ask for a PDF, give them a PDF, and if they ask for a Word doc (a.k.a., DOCX), upload a Word doc. By ignoring what the company is asking for, you risk them not being able to (or choosing not to) read your resume. You’re also giving the impression that you wouldn’t pay attention to details or follow directions as an employee.

Liou points out that if you’re working with a third-party recruiter, you should follow their directions as well. “They typically require you to send a Word document because they want to redact your personal contact information when submitting your resume to their client,” she says. If you send a PDF in this case, the recruiter might not be able to edit it the way they need to.

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