HBO or Netflix?

PDF resume or Word resume?

The struggle is real.

You have chosen the best resume template. Updated your resume, highlighted your best negotiable skills, and ran it through a spell check.

Now the only question is how do you submit it.

After you have got your resume ready, do not send it right away! Stop and check the final formatting.

Is it in a PDF format or a Word format?

The answer is not at all complicated, and we will help you make the best decision.

Why is Choosing PDF or Word so Important?

Companies receive a lot of job applications for an average job opening. To sort these thousands of applications, they use certain software. Because, well, recruiters are also humans!

This software is called Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). They sort the resumes by relevance by assessing them for keywords against the job description.

If you include all the relevant keywords on your resume, ATS will rank it higher.

To stand out, you should carefully tailor your resume to fit the job description. Add the right keywords to your resume to be above everyone else.

Hiring managers usually go for the names that appear on the top of the results.Therefore only certain people can grab the interview.

So where does the PDF resume and Word resume fit in?

The catch here is that:

ATS software is not able to read special formatting. Therefore, it is critical for you to choose your PDF or Word format wisely.

Email your resume right. Do not forget to include the correct format to the hiring manager.

Also read: What is the best way to email my resume?

How Do You Make Your Resume More ATS-Friendly?

Some older versions of ATS software have problems reading PDF containing special characters. It is also sensitive to specific resume fonts. You need to make sure that you have an ATS-friendly version of your resume.

But how do you know if your resume will pass through ATS or not?

Many large companies are most likely to use some form of ATS. If you are applying to a large firm, there is a good chance that the company is processing your resume information with the help of an ATS.

Smaller enterprises or startups are less likely to use the software. However, do not take the chance. If there is a big possibility that your resume is going to pass through an ATS, we have got some amazing hacks for you.

Remember the following rules about formatting:

  • No charts, graphs, images, text boxes, or special formatting should be used.
  • No special symbols to separate information. Unless they are standard symbols on a keyboard (- / *).
  • Upload a resume in a Word file (.doc / .docx). If you're going for a PDF, make sure it contains no special characters. The same goes for .doc file as well.

Find out more: How to make an ATS-compliant resume?

PDF vs Word for Resume

Is the best resume format pdf or word?

Well, both formats are equally good enough in their ways while applying for a job.

Simply ensure that resume file format is the one mentioned in the job description and contains the right information in the right way.

Using PDF

Can the ATS read PDF?

The answer is a simple yes!

If you are using a PDF resume format, keep in mind the following points:

  • A PDF resume can not be altered.
  • If you are emailing your resume directly to the hiring manager, choose a PDF resume.
  • Sending your resume in PDF ensures that your formatting remains consistent throughout.
  • PDF format is secure, virus-free, and compatible across all platforms.
  • Sending a PDF assures that your employer receives your resume formatting exactly as you see it on your screen.
  • On virtual platforms, everyone can open a resume in PDF format on their screens.
  • Creating a PDF resume gives you more creative options to explore. However, the more creative aspects of your PDF resume can be skipped by the ATS. It will not read graphics or text hidden in images.
  • You can easily create PDF resumes using software like Photoshop. It gives you a lot of freedom in your layout and graphic design on your resume.

Export your resume as a PDF with our online resume builder.

How do you know if your PDF file is okay?

Highlight, copy and paste the text. If your computer can read the text, your format is alright.

Hiration pro tip:
If you are sending a PDF resume, make sure it is not saved as an image.

Using Word


  • Choose a Word doc if do not want to face the complicated nature of ATS tracking systems.
  • If you are applying for a role with no referrals or previous internal connections, submit your resume via Word to get rid of the ATS obstacles.
  • If you are applying to large businesses, use Word Format. Big recruiting agencies generally prefer Word format. This is because of the database systems they use to save, store, organize and distribute your resume!
  • Everyone in the computer world has Word access.
  • ATS software can easily read a Word doc resume (provided you haven't used special characters)
  • Many companies prefer documents saved in a .docx format.


  • The formatting gets jumbled up if your resume is opened in a tool other than Word. This can result in the accidental removal or rearrangement of content.
  • Others can change or delete sections of your resume in a doc file. This may happen deliberately or accidentally.
Hiration pro tip:

Recruiters generally remove the candidate’s contact information from a resume before forwarding it. So that is another reason to submit your resume in a (.doc or .docx) Word format!q

Before sending your resume in Word, remember to turn off Track Changes and delete all comments. You should also make sure that document properties like Author Info and Title are correct.

Also read: Best resume templates in Word format

Choose the Best Format for Your Resume

Resume format PDF or word ... which one to use?

You can use both!

Applying to Online Jobs

If you are applying for a job online, check the job posting. It usually provides information on how to send your resume.

They include instructions on what format to send your resume. Some require plain text, while others require resume format PDF or word as an attachment.

No Format Specifications

If no information is provided in your job listing, you should email or call to ask which one is preferred. If for some reason you can not ask the company, it is advisable that you send your resume in PDF format.

Do mention that Word format is available if required. You can also send your resume in both formats.

Should I Send it in Resume Format PDF or Word

Sending Both Word and PDF is an option that does not have a rule that needs to be strictly followed.

You simply need to send it in the format the recruiters specifically ask you to send or just take a call on your own.

If you have the option of attaching it in resume format PDF and word, go for it. This allows the hiring managers to go with their preferences.

Quick Save Checklist

As you save your final resume format, STOP before you press send.
Remember to keep these points in mind:

  • With the advent of Applicant Tracking Systems, it becomes more important to know how to save your resume.
  • If you send a resume that is not formatted well, it may not pass through ATS. Then it becomes virtually impossible to reach a human recruiter.
  • If you're confused about resume format PDF or word, keep both your PDF and docx resumes handy.

Always remember that formatting a resume in word is as good as pdf resume.

So if you are still wondering ... should I send my resume as a pdf?

Go to Hiration career platform which has 24/7 chat support and get professional assistance with all your job & career-related queries. You can also write to us at and we will make sure to reach out to you as soon as possible.

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