pdf resumeYour resume is all ready to go. You’ve spent hours updating it, highlighting your transferable skills, quadruple checking the document for typos and now comes the ultimate question for every newbie job seeker. How do I submit it? Do I send it as a Word doc or as a PDF?

It might not seem like it, but there are big differences between the two formats and choosing one is as crucial as deciding what skills to put on your resume.

The answer is really a little more complicated, but for most career coaches, hiring managers, and recruiters who specialize in resume reviews, it’s always PDF. Always.

What’s the reasoning behind this strict response? When you send your resume in a word processing format, you leave yourself exposed to the possibility that someone might accidentally alter it. Although inadvertently on their part, you want any interested party to have the ability to review the original, polished, error-free copy. A PDF cannot be altered like a Word doc can.

Quick Tip: If you’re sending your resume as a PDF, make sure it is not saved as an image. And, if you can highlight, copy, and paste the text, and your computer can read the text then you’re good to go.

Now, on the other hand, there are some coaches that feel there are pros and cons to both formats. It’s all in how you’re submitting them.

And there’s the complication! The fact is, some companies can receive up to 250 resumes on average in response to a single job opening. And, although ATS tracking systems aren’t as much of an issue as they used to be, they’re still used. Hiring managers then read those resumes at the top of the ATS ranking to choose who they are going to interview.

Problems can occur because the software might not track or scan keywords from a PDF file as well as they do on Word documents. This would mean that, regrettably, your application would simply fall through the cracks and never make it to an actual human. While the software continues to improve, you need to make sure you have an ATS-friendly version of your resume.

So, what’s the best resume format – Word or PDF? Well, that depends on how a company wants you to apply for a job. One isn’t necessarily better than the other. The first thing you will want to do is check if there are any specific guidelines concerning the format of your resume. Most job descriptions or online applications provide specific instructions, follow them. That’s all you have to do.

Now, if you’re sending your resume directly to a human being or there are no specific instructions, you might consider saving your documents in multiple formats (PDF, .doc, .docx) so that you have the option of choosing which to send in different job application situations.

Ultimately, it’s all up to you, but it’s very easy to export a Word resume in doc format into a PDF format and vice versa to have both.