Sending your electronic resume may sound like the simplest part of the job search, but choose what kind of format for your resume can be the key to a successful job hunt. There are 2 different types of format you can choose: Word and PDF. How do you know which one is right for any given situation? Sometimes the employer will ask specifically for a particular format, but it’s not always so clear cut.

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Here, the pros and cons of each format are detailed so you can make an informed decision and present your resume in the best possible format for your situation.

1. Word
Microsoft Word is currently the most popular format for submitting a resume as an email attachment. Many job ads specifically say, “Email your resume in Word.”


  • Word is standard in most businesses.
  • It retains its basic formatting so the resume will look the same on the receiving end as it looked when you sent it.
  • 100% readable by ATS (Applicant Tracking System) which is widely used by large corporations.


  • High virus risks.
  • Compatibility issues (e.g., different versions of Word, PCs vs. Macs, etc.) can cause formatting glitches or prevent recipients from opening the attachment.
  • Custom fonts issues –  when using custom fonts in word won’t look the same when recipients opens it.

2. PDF (Portable Document Format)
Emailing a PDF resume gives you 100% assurance that the employer will see your resume exactly as you formatted it, no matter what program you used to create it.


  • Eliminates virus risk.
  • Compatible with both Macs and PCs.
  • No one can change the resume once it’s saved in PDF.
  • Recipient see your resume exactly as you formatted it.


  • The recipient must have Adobe Acrobat Reader (a free download) to open and view PDFs.
  • Not 100% accepted by ATS (Applicant Tracking System)
Whichever format you use, take one final step before you send a resume to an employer: Send the resume to yourself first in your chosen format to see how it will look. If you see some weird characters or it’s missing some of the special text effects you had when you wrote the resume, make the appropriate adjustments so that the employer will have an easy-to-read copy.


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