PDF Vs Word? Which File Format to Use for your Resume

PDF Vs Word? Which File Format to Use for your Resume

Choosing one amongst PDF Vs Word resume format is as important as furnishing the relevant skills in a professional resume. From easing the process of scanning for hiring managers as well as automatic tracking software, correctly formatted resume is a surefire way to win any job.

Our best and worst reasons to pick one format from PDF or Word resume will help you decide the perfect format that makes your resume compelling and impressive.

PDF Vs Word –  Resume Formats

Creating an up-to-date professional resume in the best format captivates the hiring manager’s attention and proves your competency for the position offered. The golden point to choose your format from PDF or Word Resume is based on your audience.

While one formatting style makes you an outstanding professional by organizing facts in a professional format while the other format lets you unleash your creativity with images to special characters.

There are four electronic formats for sending your resume to the recruiter-

1. Plain Text

A resume without any special effects such as font styling, headers or centering of the text, Plain Text Resume uses ASCII characters that are useful when sharing on a web portal directly. Although Plain Text resume works well with searchable databases, it lacks the visual appeal to outwit other competent resumes.


A coding language that is excellent for directly sharing in your resume in an e-mail to web portals, HTML lets the reader browse your resume sans downloading. However, recruiters need specific remodeling software or even browsers to convert your HTML format of the resume to make it universally readable.

3. PDF

The best merit of formatting your resume in PDF is the guarantee that the hiring manager will see the resume exactly as you designed it, regardless of incompatible software or versions. The biggest demerit of PDF formatting in resumes is that requires Adobe Reader to open or process it.

4. Word

Considered the best format for Applicant Tracking Systems to Hiring Manager’s Eye, Word Formatting in a resume is preferred for its multiple stylizing and modeling options. Word is considered the standard format for resume applications, as it is easy to forward or print as well.

The sole con of formatting your resume in Word is the incompatibility with Mac iOS and different versions of Word itself.

Pros and Cons of Using PDF Format for Sending Your Resume

The formatting option of Portable Document Format (PDF) is recommended for designers and creative professionals as it gives a chance to make the resume visually unique.

Pros of PDF Format in a resume

  • Easy Access: As you can open a PDF Formatted CV on any computer or browser, it will prove easy for the employer to ingress your resume from anywhere.
  • No Virus Risk: PDF is ideal for companies that do not prefer downloading attachments as PDF eliminates the risk of Virus. When you send the resume in PDF format, there never are links to external attachments!
  • Compatible with iOS and Windows: Regardless of the operating system hiring manager uses and yours, the PDF resume builder will make it easy to read your resume without any disparities.
  • Ample Creative Freedom: PDF resumes can display graphics to unique formatting and fancy typefaces without messing up with the receivers’ default formatting.
  • Guaranteed to Look as you want it to: When a resume is formatted in PDF, it displays the same format as you saved the file in. In short, accidental or intentional changes cannot be added to your resume, once you finalize it.

Cons of PDF Format in a resume

  • Applicant tracking system Incompatibility: As ATS does not recognize the keywords in a PDF format, there are high chances that your resume will not be considered relevant.
  • Software Errors: Unique formatting and creative graphics are skipped by ATS-like software in a PDF resume file and show up as a broken resume.
  • Inaccessible Readability: As your recruiter needs Adobe Acrobat Reader to access or even check your qualifications on a PDF file, it may be rejected as spam when the former software is unavailable.

Pros and Cons of Using Word Doc for Sending Your Resume

Formatting your resume in docx is ideal for any job application. The universal type of MS Word formatting complies with most standard recruitment processes and candidate data import software such as Applicant Tracking Software.

Pros of Word Format in a resume

  • Universal Compatibility: Word document is the standard resume format accessible with electronic gadgets including mobiles and computers.
  • ATS Compliance: Resumes made in MS Word format are easily accessible by ATS applications and software to find relevant achievements and skills crucial to the job offered.
  • Limited Creative Freedom: With a word document, you can stylize your resume with different typefaces to formats including Bold and Italics in fonts.

Cons of Word Format in a resume

  • Different Versions can make the file Inaccessible: Word resumes do not retain the formatting options of the creator unless the version of MS Word used by the creator is same as the receiver. The same rules apply to resumes when opened on iOS than Windows.
  • High Virus risk: As email attachments are not a preference for all recruiters owing to the high-risk of contracting electronic viruses, word resumes can be rejected.
  • Unintentional deletions: It is possible to modify and alter your resume file in a doc format by the receiver, accidentally or deliberately.
  • Negligible creative flexibility: Word offers different typefaces and visual alternatives to format your resume, but there is no creative freedom to include graphics as it messes up with your resume model.


Unless the recruiter has specified specific resume formatting options, it is important to asses resume samples pertaining to your specific job role before finalizing on an option.

Currently, hiring managers use a mix of technology and trend to rate and review resume format models. While PDF guarantees extravagant creative freedom, Word guarantees your resume gets read and added to the Candidate Database by ATS used by 90% employers today. Unless your employer has provided specific resume formatting guidelines in the job application, it is recommended that candidates choose the universally compatible Electronic Format- Microsoft Word.

Good Luck!

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