The .pdf Resume — Does It Help or Hurt Your Job Search?

While people who use a .pdf resume think they benefit from doing so, they often actually shoot themselves in the foot. 

.pdf Defined

.pdf stands for portable document format.

It allows resumes to be opened on different systems without formatting glitches and it prevents anyone from making unauthorized changes to the document.

In other words, .pdf gives users total control of their resumes. And don’t we often dream about having total control?

The Problems with a .pdf Resume

The problem is, total control, in any aspect of life, tends to choke the vitality out of whatever a person attempts to control. That’s certainly the case with resumes. While a .doc resume is a living, breathing, interactive document, a .pdf resume isn’t.

The “pro-control, pro—pdf” argument often contains an implicit or explicit assumption that other people, whoever they are, might change a resume in some sort of nefarious, damaging manner.

Consider this — maybe there are people who want to help your career by improving your resume. As a search consultant, I might:

  • Ask you about a piece of missing information and then add it to your resume (clearly highlighted as my addition) because I know my client wants to see it.
  • Notice a question your resume raises but doesn’t answer. I ask you about it and note the answer (again, clearly highlighted as my addition) on your resume.
  • Add a comment about something I particularly like.
  • Etc.

If you have sent me an interactive .doc resume, I can annotate it to improve my client’s understanding of your background.

If you have sent me a locked up .pdf file, you’ve tied my hands and prevented me from helping you.

Now I have to ask you for a Microsoft Word resume (again) and then come back to my mission of helping you after I receive it. Later. After my attention has shifted.

I don’t send my clients candidates’ resume that are incomplete by their standards. It’s my job to anticipate and answer their questions.

They need to be able to look at your resume once and make an interview/no interview decision. Done. Final. Move on to the next step in the process.

When the Recruiter Gets a .pdf Resume after Asking for a Word Resume

One more thing, when recruiters specifically ask for .doc resumes and they get .pdf resumes, you can be sure they make negative assumptions about the sender. They wonder about topics such as:

  • Cooperation.
  • Attention to detail.
  • Willingness to respect processes.

The Wrap

Please think about what I’ve written the next time you’re deciding which type of resume format to use.

Oh, and that “total control” thing? Just an illusion. Check out the comments below.

Note: This post has upset some readers. I welcome your comments. Kindly keep them constructive and within the bleeding edge of civil discourse.

I write executive resumes and LinkedIn profiles. Save time. Get hired. Email me at donnasvei@gmail.com for more information.

Image: Fotolia/patryssia
Updated June 2017

© 2013 – 2017, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.

Shares

Comments 33

  1. Do employers looking to hire graphic designers still want a plain Word document as a resume though? Is this the exception?

    Jenn,

    That’s a terrific question. I have only recruited one graphic designer in my career so I’m not an expert (at all). On that search, I wanted to have easy access to portfolios and I cared a great deal both about how they were presented and the work samples they contained. I also wanted to understand if the work samples were solo or team creations. Where they were team creations, I wanted to know which elements the applicant had handled.

    As to your resume, I think it probably is an exception to the “rule.” I put rule in quotation marks there because the real rule is to know the norms if you’re in a specialized market and then use your judgment as to the best way to present yourself.

    I would love to hear what people who read graphic designers’ resumes and then make go/no interview decisions on applicants have to say about this.

    Thank you for asking Jenn.

    Donna

  2. I believe that we would definitely be an exception to that rule.

    Tim Sullivan
    CEO
    activePDF, Inc.

    Tim,

    Best. Comment. Ever.

    Donna

  3. I really value your perspective on things, so I hesitate to comment on this advice. It is good advice, as your blog is the gold standard on how to do things the right way. I think the job seeker should know the whole story before deciding to avoid .pdf altogether. The .doc or .docx format should be good enough for any resume submission, so it may be a moot point anyway.

    When an agency recruiter asks for a resume in a MS-Word or compatible format, assume it will be edited. Most of the time, the job seeker’s personal information will be edited out and the agency contact information substituted in its place. This is to prevent an unscrupulous company from going directly to you rather than through your chosen agent. There should be no problem with this concept since the 3rd-party recruiter has your best interests at heart and should be trusted to present your qualifications to their client in the best light. The key: Don’t send an editable resume to anyone you don’t trust.

    Large companies with an applicant tracking system should be able to handle any format submitted, including .pdf. Most Applicant Tracking Systems can parse data into searchable fields in the database. Job seekers should be concerned that their resumes are readable after submission, and most of the good ATS systems will let you review it. If bullets and other resume parts look like Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, you may want to send a plain .txt file. You spend a lot of time making the resume perfect, so don’t let an ATS make you look bad.

    The bottom line is that it really is about trusting a bit of yourself to the people who will receive an electronic version of your resume. Send a .doc, .docx, or .rtf formatted file and forget it. If you don’t trust them, you shouldn’t be applying there anyway.

    Hi Tom,

    First, aw shucks, gosh, THANK YOU!

    Next, you’re right, trust is the key. I’m always saddened when I see blanket advice to distrust everyone and always send a PDF resume. Hence this post. Thank you for adding this critical point and refinement to my post. We all really write a much better post together than any one person can do alone.

    Donna

  4. Take home message: If employers ask for a resume in Word format, send ’em one.

    OK, I’ll do that. Otherwise it’s PDF.

    * Smile * Donna

  5. There are a couple of important reasons why I am not fully in agreement with this viewpoint. Having been a Recruiter myself in Canada’s première firm specializing only in retail and as a retailer I am not in agreement with the following: “maybe they are people who want to help your career by improving your resume. As a recruiter, when I read a resume, I might want to add a piece of missing information. ” A recruiter’s role is not to change or edit a candidate’s resume and in fact, it is considered unethical to do so. This is personal information and only the candidate should edit their info or a specialized resume writer….with the candidate’s permission. We can coach candidates to produce resumes that are more impactful from a format and content perspective, but to actually play in them is a not the right approach. Secondly – the reason most firms require Word format from the candidate is for the purpose of of watermarking their firm’s logo when presenting the resume to a client company. We always watermark then PDF the resume received and then send to the client along with the profile notes. The PDF is not dead: it is a locked document preserving the integrity of the information and privacy.

    Hi Christina,

    Thank you for adding another perspective.

    Clients hire me for, among other things, my judgment. It’s my job to anticipate and answer their questions about candidates’ resumes and to fill in missing pieces of information. The resume isn’t a pass/fail exam. It’s a decision support document. If I can make it more informative, I do. When I annotate resumes, I add my notes in red and type “Annotations in Red” at the top of the resume. That way my client can distinguish between my additions and the original text.

    Also, I work on exclusive, retained searches. Thus, I have no need to watermark resumes. Given what you and Tom Bolt have added here, I’m thinking about writing a post about the different types of search firms and the different types of exclusivity arrangements that companies and their recruiters use.

    Kind regards,

    Donna

    See: 5 Ways Job Seekers Can Vet Recruiters http://buff.ly/14cXzg2 < Describes fee and exclusivity arrangements that recruiters often have with their clients.

  6. Good post, Donna.

    Another issue that I’ve heard is that, although the major ATS systems can scan PDFs, not all of them can. Or they can import text from Word, but need to do OCR on PDF.

    What’s your experience with this?

    Thanks for another thoughtful post.

    Andy

    Hi Andy,

    What Applicant Tracking Systems will and won’t do varies by system. The consensus seems to be that a .doc file is the safest way to submit a resume to an ATS. Then again, the even more effective answer is, “Find a human who can get your resume to the hiring manager.”

    Thank you for your kind words. It’s always nice to see you online!

    Donna

  7. Thanks for sharing insider views. My question might be a bit technical: do search firms have Acrobat Pro or only Reader for processing PDFs?

    If the former is typically used, then one won’t have to worry about not being to annotate or watermark

    Hi Frank,

    Interesting question. I’m sure it varies by firm with many (most?) only using the reader. But what you’re also saying is that PDF is not the assurance of TOTAL CONTROL that just about everyone thinks it is.

    Thank you,

    Donna

  8. Come on, this is a joke. Recruiters need the CV in Word format so that they can remove the contact information and prevent the recruiter to contact the candidate directly. As simple as that.

    Alessandro,

    That certainly happens. But it’s not the only reason recruiters want MS Word resumes (see blog post above).

    It’s a good idea to know your recruiter and their reputation before sending them your resume. See: 5 Ways Job Seekers Can Vet Recruiters http://buff.ly/14cXzg2 (written 6/3/13). If you can’t trust them, why would you share your resume with them? Beyond that, do you really want to work for a company that would work with an unethical recruiter or one that would try to beat a recruiter out of a valid fee? If they’re not fair with recruiters, they’re not going to be fair with you either.

    Donna

  9. If you are working with a recruiter, or with a company who is submitting your bid as a part of a proposal response, sending a Word resume is important, and in turn, the recruiter has an obligation to consult with you on any substantive changes. (Some don’t, and thereby can involve you in telling an untruth about your experience, if they word-spin to get a match and thereby introduce inaccuracies.)
    If you are sending your resume directlty to the hiring organization, pdf would be the sensible format to use, because it controls how your resume will appear at the far end. pdf is the right choice in any situation where you want to lock in exactly what you formatted and said.

    Hi Jennifer,

    Good to see you! Thank you for your perspective. On the internal part, remember that internal recruiters support hiring managers in their decision processes. Thus, they like to annotate resumes also. It’s very helpful to have all the information on one document.

    Donna

  10. A PDF isn’t always about preventing others from making edits, it can also be used to ensure the recruiter sees the document as it was meant to be viewed. A PDF maintains the original document’s format and font, something Microsoft Word can’t always deliver. Depending on the reader used (Adobe Reader or other), the recruiter can make comments or notes and annotations. I do agree however that if the request is for a particular format, such as a Word .doc or .docx file, that is what you should submit.

    Hi Stephanie,

    OK. So here I am, Joe Recruiter.

    This email comes sailing in. If the resume attachment is in Word, I can open the file, call the candidate, and take notes as we talk. Seamless.

    If it’s a PDF file, I can’t just open a writable file, I have to open it in Adobe Reader, which I’ve never done, so I have to Google how to do that and fiddle around, then I can call the candidate, and take notes as we talk. Because when I just open the file, the thing is not editable. It’s an annoying, dead, non-interactive file.

    Thoughts? Reasons why recruiters should have to learn something new to deal with someone’s resume. “Hi, I’m Joe Candidate, and the first thing I’m going to expect from you is that you learn something new and change.” That’s great if you’re an 11 on the client’s scale of 1 to 10 but, if you’re an 8, it won’t you get far with most recruiters. Just sayin’.

    Thank you for your comment. I know it’s well intentioned and it gave me a platform to talk about not only writing your resume to your audience but making sure that your audience can use your resume once you send it to them.

    Donna

  11. I’m in agreement with Christina, Jennifer, and Stephanie here – the integrity of the original document is a higher priority to me than the ability of a third party to make edits without my agreement. If I’m sending a resume to a company you can bet that I’m using a .pdf format, as it’s the only way for me to be (reasonably) sure that what I see on my monitor is what they’ll see on theirs. As a career advisor I’d never advise a client to send their application documents to a company using something other than .pdf unless the posting explicitly requested something different, for that very reason. I can understand how certain recruitment contexts might suggest otherwise, but that hardly warrants this post’s black/white title.

    Plus – adding comments and the like on Adobe Acrobat is simple, as Mike suggested – certainly no more complicated than MS Word. Lastly, if interactivity is the basis of your argument for MS Word, why not suggest google docs?

    Hi David,

    Thank you for your comment. Google Docs would be a terrific idea if it was in nearly universal use. Just like PDF files would be great if they were in nearly universal use and everyone knew how to mark them up.

    Also, applicants would benefit from getting real with the idea that the people who read their resumes might (very high likelihood of this) find them deficient in some way and choose to add information to them. We’re not talking about taking information away. We’re talking about adding it. Truthful information. Helpful information. We don’t write, “This applicant sucks,” on resumes. We just don’t forward that applicant’s resume to the hiring manager.

    Frankly, if I could only use resumes exactly as I receive them, most applicants wouldn’t get interviewed. These aren’t the Dead Sea Scrolls. They’re working documents. Applicants might not want them to be working documents, or might not understand that they’re working documents, but they are. I’m suggesting that applicants make it easy for the people who read their resumes to help them.

    Besides, this safety factor? False sense of security. I can always convert a PDF into a Word file and mess with it however I want. And I mean “however I want” in a good way. I’d just rather receive the Word file in the first place.

    Donna

  12. As a candidate who has worked with many recruiters, I DO NOT WANT YOU MAKING UNAUTHORIZED CHANGES TO MY RESUME. These are my skills, my experience. I will be interviewing with the client, not you.

    What I do appreciated is your feedback. If you see a deficiency in my Resume, TELL ME about it. I will fix it. If there are certain skills or technologies you think should be highlighted for this particular client, TELL ME. But remember, if I have to change my resume in a significant way, the job is probably not well suited to me.

    I understand that you’ll want to prevent the client from contacting me directly to cut you out of the picture, and for that reason, I’ll send you the Word file you request (as converted from the original Pages, Google Docs, or OpenOffice file), but only when you specifically request it and when you have talked to me about the role.

    Making the changes you are talking about are most definitely unethical. I would never work with a recruiter doing that. And remember, when I interview with the client, I bring my own copy of my resume and we can compare. We will both be aware of your modifications, and they will reflect poorly on you and I.

    Hi Daniel,

    Thank you for your perspective. Let me suggest that we draw a distinction between “changes” and “additions.” I’m not “changing” what you wrote about yourself. I’m adding additional information and my own comments.

    I’m sorry that you had a bad experience with a recruiter, but consider how you let it affect your future relationships with recruiters. Do you really want to stand out as (1) needing this much control and (2) demonstrating that you can be difficult to work with? Recruiters notice how easy or difficult applicants are to work with. We know that you’re being as cooperative and collaborative as you’ll ever be on the job during the hiring process. These types of behaviors are HUGE tells for us. If we find you difficult to work with, we tell our clients. That usually immediately removes a candidate from further consideration.

    One more thing, it’s not uncommon for recruiters, especially at more senior levels, to not even present your resume to their clients. They draft a brief about you and submit that.

    Let’s get past the idea of resume as magical document and work together to see if you’re a good fit for the job at hand or not. That often involves letting go of a little control.

    Donna

  13. The brief is great. It’s clearly a document written by the recruiter and presented by the client. It should have all the additions and other information you’ve mentioned (and the results of reference checks that you have done).

    But the Resume is different. It is a document created by the candidate to reflect their skills and experience. If the recruiter has to make changes (especially without the candidate’s specific approval and input), there’s a much larger chance that you’re putting them in the wrong role. Nobody appreciates being setup for failure.

    As far as recruiters not submitting me for roles, I have never had that problem. I live in a market that is well served by recruiters and I have them competing on an hour-to-hour basis to bring new roles to my attention so they can submit me (I work with a number of recruiters and generally go with the first one to bring a role to my attention). Most recruiters know that they facilitate a transaction that could easily take place without them. They need to add value to the process to survive.

    Recently, a recruiter came to me with a good role with a great company. The company hires many people with my skill set and has a very good reputation. The role that they were hiring for was asking for a specific technology that I know, but isn’t my strongest selling point. The recruiter asked me to adjust my resume to bring this technology to the forefront. I thought about it and declined, because emphasizing a second-level skill (or exaggerating) would take away from my overall resume and start me off on the wrong foot. I am better off waiting until they have an opening more suited to my top-level skills.

    You’re lucky to have a skill set that’s in high demand Daniel. Donna

  14. Donna,

    Daniel said elegantly what I was going to. Your responses were defensive at best.

    You should not be adding anything to a resume, either. My resume should be only mine. If you’re making a brief or it, or adding information, do it separately. What is in my resume is what I want to show the world, and how I want it. If you’re not comfortable with the quality or content, talk to me or move on. Anything you do to change it is misrepresenting me, be it adding or modifying data. Send your own notes independently.

    I’ve had a lousy recruiter change my resume. The employer I spoke about certain experience, and when I said it was minimal, they said my resume highlighted it. I checked what I sent to that staffer, and there was barely a mention of it. They insisted they did not change it. This was the last time I sent a recruiter a Word copy of my resume, and it will be any time I deal with recruiters in the future.

    Too many recruiters are trash. Another told me to take a job and not tell them I had barely any of the skill they wanted, and just get up to speed quickly. If you’re not one of the “bad” ones, great- but there are too many that give your profession a bad name, and until there’s less unethical practices in the field, telling others that the way they protect their interests is not needed is misguided.

    -J

    Thanks J. I actually send my clients both the original and the annotated resumes.

    And yes, I’ve found some of these remarks personally offensive. I deleted one that added nothing to the conversation and left the rest up because they’re shining an interesting light into the relationship between recruiters and candidates.

    What’s becoming more interesting to me here than the format of a resume is the vitriol directed toward the recruiting community. Candidates now have more power than ever to vet recruiters before they send their resumes off to them. Are people checking recruiters’ LinkedIn profiles to see what type of backgrounds and recommendations they have? I put my LinkedIn profile URL on my job postings so applicants can see exactly where their resume is going. No one has to swim with bottom feeders. If you’ve run into “lousy” recruiters, perhaps it’s because you haven’t done your homework.

    And I’ll ask again, why would anyone want to work for a company that hires a recruiter that candidates can’t trust? If you can’t trust their representative, why would you trust them?

    Donna

  15. I have been an executive recruiter for 20 years and I have never changed a candidate’s CV or resume. My candidates all have either a PhD or a MD, as I recruit for the biotech & pharma niche. I think if my candidate with a PhD in Chemistry from Harvard can’t get his CV right on his own then he is not a good candidate for my client. Of course we all make typos and I will occasionally point these out. As for filling in missing information, I write a report for each candidate I submit with all my thoughts- both pro and con. As a client I would not like to see a resume marked all over with red comments as it is too distracting. It also mentally would conjure a negative picture.( Think red marks on a test from your teacher). We don’t want a candidate to start off on first glance with a negative image, do we?

    Hi Ellen,

    It’s good to see you here. Interesting, I don’t point typos out to candidates and I don’t “fix” their typos in any way. That’s data about how closely they copy edit important documents before they go out the door. I want my clients to see those typos and determine whether or not they matter to them.

    My comments do things like document the candidate’s explanation of a gap in his/her job history, list current salary and bonus as provided by the candidate, document the candidate’s explanation of why they left a job, etc. As to the color red, it provides a sharp contrast and thus clearly shows the information I’ve added to the resume. I’ve tried green and blue but they don’t pop as well. Remember, I also send a clean copy of the resume to my client. Thus, they can choose to read either one or both.

    Beyond sourcing great candidates, my job is to develop and provide information to the hiring manager for decision support. If a candidate’s resume doesn’t provide all the information I know they want, or if it raises questions, it’s my job to provide that information. Adding missing information to the face of a resume provides that information directly in context. It’s also the most efficient way to convey the information. BTW, I’ve never had a client object to receiving an annotated resume — and I’ve been recruiting since 1987.

    Kind regards,

    Donna

  16. Hi Donna – When I first read this I was perplexed about why you or anyone else would want to make comments directly on a person’s resume. I realize you are resume writer and thought perhaps that is how you provide edits back forth when working with clients. If so, that process wasn’t obvious to me…

    From the perspective of a person submitting their resume in the context of applying for a position at a company and/or sending their resume to a 3rd party firm to be represented by that firm to the firm’s client(s), I don’t believe there would be a need for ANYONE to manipulate an applicant’s resume. Aside from an agency presenting the resume content under their letterhead (blinding the candidate’s name and contact info) there would be no other reason to have an editable format.

    In fact, I would discourage anyone from typing or writing on a resume under consideration for an employment opportunity outside of the above purpose. If any modification is needed, the resume owner (applicant/candidate) should provide additional explanation, clarification or updates on the document itself or the inquiring party should note any comments on a separate page.

    Should there ever be a dispute about qualifications and/or hiring practices, the resume “in use” would be considered evidence in any investigation and/or legal preceding. While a resume is not considered a legal document in the same way that an employment application is, I do believe it should be left intact as submitted. Adding comments, notes, corrections or interpretations should not be necessary and I would strongly advise against this practice unless the resume owner is present and personally authorizing and initialing the changes to their information.

    As to whether PDF or MS Word is preferable, I would almost always recommend PDF unless specifically requested to send MS Word or PDF is not accepted by an ATS or other online system.

    As a person that includes limited, yet precise formatting in the resumes I prepare, PDF ensures that recipient is able to view the document as it was intended to appear. Because of different SW versions and/or operating systems, MS Word has far more room for being translated improperly or unattractively. And, even some printers will alter how the hard copy appears from the soft (screen) version.

    ~KB @TalentTalks

    Hi Kelly,

    Thanks for your comment…have you read through the comments that precede yours? There’s been quite a conversation. Hopefully a detailed read will make things clearer. BTW, I’m both an executive search consultant (over 400 searches completed) and an executive resume writer.

    Kind regards,

    Donna

  17. I’m a bit surprised that there isn’t cleaner process for taking notes on a candidate other than writing them within Microsoft Word on the actual document. Maybe there’s an opportunity for an aspiring entrepreneur to disrupt the industry 🙂

    For my part the reason why I use PDF, and get frustrated when a Word document is asked for, is a similar reason to what Stephanie had mentioned earlier in the string. Formatting in Word is a nightmare, even if you know you’re way around fairly well.

    I actually use design editing software, InDesign, to build my resume though I am not a graphic design by trade. It gives me better control, not over the security of the document, but to make sure it looks exactly the way I want. To Stephanie’s point, PDF maintains that integrity.

    I do have a Word document backup with all of the same information. It doesn’t quite fit right. The breaks don’t flow as well. It’s not as balanced. It’s not accurate to the perception of myself that I want to get across to employers. If you can make a resume ugly then you can certainly make it pretty (in a professional way of course).

    Hi Josh,

    Thank you for your comment.

    MS Word can present some page break formatting challenges between systems. They don’t bother me. I know that happens.

    For me, wanting MS Word documents really boils down to only wanting to look at one document and having all the information needed for decision support in one place. Screens are getting smaller all the time. Thus, it’s often not convenient to look at more than one document at a time.

    Three axioms that will benefit any job search:

    1.Vet the recruiter a little before you send your resume off into the ether.
    2.Comply with the requested process.
    3.Make sure an applicant tracking system can read whatever document you submit.

    Donna

  18. Hi again,

    I found a couple of your comments interesting:

    “If it’s a PDF file, I can’t just open the file, I have to open it in Adobe Reader, which I’ve never done, so I have to Google how to do that and fiddle around…”. You should only have to double click the attachment, just as you would a Word doc. Typically, Adobe Reader is a standard install on business computers.

    “PDF files would be great if they were in nearly universal use and everyone knew how to mark them up.” True, not everyone knows how use the various features available, but PDFs are as universal as Word. Adobe Reader is free, unlike Microsoft Word. With Word docs you always have to save them in a compatible format (.doc not .docx) to ensure the recipient can actually view the file. With a PDF, it’s automatically readable in any version of Reader; what you may lose are some of the newer features.

    Personally, I’ve found that the “applicant tracking systems” invariably mess up the formatting despite the file uploaded, both Word and PDF resume versions.

    Just my two cents,

    Stephanie

    Hi Stephanie,

    Thank you for commenting.

    There’s no trouble opening the PDF format from an email attachment with a double click. It’s readable that way. It’s just not markable. Hence my headline that it’s “dead” — as opposed to interactive. When you double click a Word file from email, it’s readable and markable.

    I’ve got to think that companies using applicant tracking systems care more about processing mountains of data at low cost than they care about formatting because you’re right, the systems do mess up formatting.

    Kind regards,

    Donna

  19. Having just been made redundant I started the rounds of visiting recruitment agencies and asked this very question – PDF or DOC(x)? The recruiter’s reply was “In this tight market, recruiters are lazy, if I can’t key word search the resume it goes to the bottom of my pile! Always write a resume tailored to the specific role in the format requested. I don’t want to or need to do any extra work to accommodate the wrong format”.

    Maybe its not a professional attitude but with possibly hundreds of applicant for a job, minor things will count against you. One thing I always do though is save each resume as a new file in a new directory before sending it out – I don’t want anyone looking at the change history to see what I applied for previously.

    Grant,

    Thank you for this. We recruiters process volumes of data. We have systems. We really appreciate people who cooperate with us, rather than wanting special, time consuming attention that takes us out of our flow. If someone needs special attention, it’s at least a red flag to us. Worst case scenario, per what you wrote, it’s an instant deal killer. Ouch!

    Donna

  20. Do you think it’s perfectly fine to send two copies of my resume? A PDF and a Doc one? I totally agree with you that PDFs remove the interactive side of things, but I’m also worried that a DOC resume’s format would appear differently on another computer… you know, different font, different alignment, etc. I don’t want to mess it up.

    Dee, Yes. Perfectly fine. Terrific idea! Thank you, Donna

  21. It seems as if your only real argument here is that one cannot mark-up a PDF (which is actually not a completely true statement, depending on what version of Adobe you are utilizing). So what would you prefer to send to a job; a Word document that has weird underlining in it because the program lacks the ability to understand certain margins and spaces as stylistic choices (that is, of course, unless you create individual tables and tabs for everything) or a cleaner PDF document that has none of the above? I guess making comments directly to the Word comment is a viable argument; however, as many have mentioned before, the basic Adobe contains a comment tool.

    I understand the point of someone wanting to edit the document, but really, how often would that happen unless you’re specifically sending it to someone who you know will likely edit it for you.

    In regards to automatic tracking systems, most of them state the types of files that are acceptable and more times than not, will not accept an upload of an unacceptable file type. Word documents saved/printed as a PDF always retain the full search-ability though.

    Moral of the story – Follow the directions and/or requests from the company or person you are sending your resume to?

    Hi Jan, Yes on “moral of the story.” Thank you, Donna

  22. What are your thoughts on receiving the PDF resume (the one that is meant to look good) and receiving a plain text doc with no formatting (as it won’t look the same on my PC as your anyway)?

    Hi Erik,

    Plain text docs are for computers, not people. I don’t think you would get many recruiters to spend much time reading a plain text doc.

    Kind regards,

    Donna

  23. I’m a programmer and I work on Linux machines only. I don’t have Word.

    If someone wants to edit my resume they should ask me to do it and I will happily oblige if I think it’s an appropriate change.

    I DO NOT want recruiters changing my resume without telling me. The ethics of that are a bit grey.

    Hi Jack,

    Let’s flip the calendar back to the days of hard copy resumes. Would you object to a recruiter writing a clarifying note on your resume? That’s all I’m talking about. I don’t change anything. I add comments that help my clients understand what they’re reading.

    Donna

  24. I can only speak for my career experience but I have found that recruiters only want Word versions so they can strip out contact information preventing you from being contacted directly (thereby negating the need for the recruiter) One very recent and very clear example of this was:

    1) Applied for a job (senior exec, global brand bank)
    2) Sent my CV (pdf)
    3) Recruiter asked for a word version “because the formatting was coming out wrong”. I knew this not to be true but the role was very attractive so I complied.
    4) Got through to the final panel interview where they had my CV throughout with the agency covering sheet and the only thing that was missing was my contact information, including my LinkedIn URL (they were kind enough to provide me a copy at the end of the process which I checked forensically)

    Interestingly, the entire panel had checked out my LinkedIn profile anyway (thanks to the who’s looking component) from which spawned a LOT of questions. They’d even reached out to former colleagues and acquaintances whom we shared connections to help validate career delivery claims so it was a very interesting new dynamic. Ultimately, I turned down the job because it was more promise than guarantee of delivery but it did prove one thing.

    Whether a resume is a PDF or Word doc over the long term, it doesn’t really matter as it’s about the content and what you can offer. Over time, personally, I think a CV “document” as a concept will slowly fade into use by niche use cases. This view opinion is largely fueled by that last interview and the likes of services such as LinkedIn, websites and other (emerging) social media avenues such as Klout which combines public and private information which can can get supported and endorsed.

    It’ll be interesting to see what happens in coming generations.

    Thank you Dean. LinkedIn is the “go to” place for checking people out. That’s why it’s good to have a profile that’s even more compelling than your resume. LinkedIn is a great place to do Resume+.

    Kind regards,

    Donna

  25. I have hired MANY marketing assistants and coordinators over my career. I’m always shocked when someone submits a Word resume to me. The first thing I do is reveal hidden formatting and see exactly how they formatted that resume. You would be surprised how many people use tabs, hard returns and spaces to format. I rarely see anyone properly using styles in their resume. To me, these are not proficient Word users. I won’t interview these people. These positions require a high level of computer knowledge, and if you can’t properly format a resume, you can’t do this job. At least with a PDF they can hide those flaws for a while.

    Interesting Margaret. Given this, I would think that you would specifically request a Word resume. 🙂 Donna

  26. I work in the communitacions area and I design my resume using InDesing. As someone said before it allows me to design it in ways word cant. For me word is too limited, but I do have a simple version in word. However, I’ve never been asked for it. And I hope they dont. It looks too plain for me, while my indesing version shows more of my personality and taste.

    Also, I find funny you call PDF not interactive. The way I do it, most info in my pdf resume is hyperlinked, which means if you click my university info you go to my faculty web page, if you click my twitter info, it takes you to my twitter…same with my blog, companies ive worked for, proyects…

    If you ask for my word version you will be missing a lot about me just for the shake of your innconvenience adding comments in pdf, which can be done (as said in other comments)

    I hope I don’t come up as rude (english is not my first language) but you are putting your convenience first, and it shouldn’t be like that. PDF works fine and has more pros than cons for everyone. Taking you a bit longer to be able to comment on a pdf should not stop you or make you think pdf is dead. Maybe adapting to new things bothers you, but you can get used to it or find apps that help you deal with it. There’s many pdf editors out there for iphone, android and even browser. They are free. Use them and problem solved!

    Not rude at all Ana. Thank you for the helpful information. Donna

  27. Hi,

    I also don’t agree in total. It depends where you apply! In South Asia there is many firm who ask you for your CV (asking for an opportunity with them) and they use it without your consent for EOI, Business Proposals and Bidding to qualify themselves. Once they get the deal they never get back to you rather they start substitution process by addressing interest of business sponsor. And when project goes in trouble you can also be pulled off because you are in file. Specially when this is Government sponsored Projects. Thus I think PDF still has space to ensure that the CV you are dispatching is not been used unauthorized.

    Thank You.

    Hi Om,

    That’s reprehensible. However, if you read the comments, you’ll see that the .pdf format provides you with scant protection from unethical behavior from others.

    Kind regards,

    Donna

  28. Acrobat Reader, Preview, and Okular all support commenting and annotation in PDFs.
    Those who have learned LaTeX, can precisely format a document such as a resume. While I have “total control” as you put it when creating a document in LaTeX, I’m more interested in the fact that the format does not frequently go all out of whack when I have to copy and paste sections.
    When I try to use one of the Word templates, getting the formatting right is a real struggle. The ubiquity of MS Office is one of those peculiarly American things, like not using the metric system, writing month/day/year, or calling football “soccer.”

  29. My CV is written in LaTeX so a word document is not going to come out of that. Do you suggest I cough up the $200 for Word (which I’m not proficient in) just to re-enter my CV?

    If a recruiter asks you for a Word document, I would give them one. You can probably find someone on O-Desk to do it for your for five or ten dollars.

    P.S. I would love to see your resume. If you would like, please email me a copy at donnasvei@gmail.com.

  30. Hi Donna,

    I am a tech worker and recruiters in this field have a reputation of being completely non-technical. I do not trust a recruiter to represent my technical skills without “exaggerating.” If I have a good recruiter who is working directly for a hiring manager, my resume will skip the HR screen and I will want to write my own resume in that situation.

    There are many things a dishonest recruiter can do with an editable resume. Making my resume a PDF is an easy way to make sure the recruiter can’t edit email address so the client can’t contact with me.

    [BTW, my PDF resume converts BEAUTIFULLY to text, I made sure of it 🙂 ]

    Hope you understand,
    Joe

  31. Hi Joe,

    Thank you for this. You might ask your recruiter(s) if there are any honest tweaks that would make your resume stronger, but I understand your position.

    Donna

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *