Doís and Doníts of Resume File Formats Print E-mail

Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC

File formats - those letters after the dot in the name of the computer file. Document files come in all sorts of "flavors" depending on how they are saved and even the type of software used to create them. Most Word documents have file extensions of .doc or .docx. The .docx file was a new extension that came along with Word 2007. There are also text files (.txt), Works files (.wps), OpenOffice files (.odt), WordPerfect files (.wpd),  and rich text format files (.rtf). And those are just the ones for documents! There are all sorts of file extensions for audio, video, and graphics!

So, which file format do you use for your resume? The best bet is to stick with a normal .doc or .docx file format. Most recipients can open these files and they can be uploaded with few problems as long as they are not heavily designed with a lot of visual whizbangs. To make absolutely sure your resume makes it safely into the database and out again to the hiring manager's computer screen, an e-resume formatted into plain text format is the best choice. A text file is very compatible and doesn't give resume databases indigestion. It's not pretty, though. In fact, text files are ugly to the human reader but since they are primarily written for the benefit of the database design elements take a back seat to readability.

Steer completely clear of protected document format files (PDF files). Some people feel it is important to preserve the visual appearance of the resume onscreen and use a PDF file. The problem is resume databases digest PDF files about like a cat digests hair balls - not well. Most resume databases will reject PDF files and most recruiters don't like them either. Simply because your document file looks amazing on your screen, don't assume it will duplicate identically on upload to another computer screen. A basic file format is the wisest choice.