What Format Should I Use For My Job Application?

Job Application
Image by http://bit.ly/1KnMwVt

Looking fr a job? We have already addressed the topic of creating the perfect job application in great detail. Check out the article of how to create the perfect job application for a summary of everything you need to know about writing your resume, biography and what questions to expect and ask in a job interview.


But what comes in between writing your application and being invited to an interview?


Exactly: you have to send your application! If your application is required to be sent via mail, all you have to do is to print your cover letter, resume, and attachments and put them—neatly!—into a portfolio. But what if you are required to send your application via e-mail?


Choose The Right Format For Your Job Application

Of course, what matters all and foremost is the content of your resume. The format to send it to your potential future employer is, oftentimes, the very last thing you think about. That doesn’t mean that you can ignore the matter. A file that is difficult or impossible to open is almost guaranteed to be tossed out—unread!


With the vast number of document files out there, which one should you choose then? Doesn’t the document my word processing program gives me suffice?


The answer is: no. Assuming that your future employer is able to open .pages (Apple Pages), .odt (OpenOffice Writer), .hwp (Hancom Office) or .docx (Microsoft Word) files can become problematic. In most cases you can not know which program the person you send your resume to is using and thus which files they can open without a problem or without your formatting screwing up completely.


Application Tracking Systems

Many companies use so-called application tracking systems (ATS) for their recruitment process. The compatibility of files varies across these systems though. Some do not even support the widely used and accepted PDF format.


If you are asked to upload your resume online, there are often specific guidelines provided that also tell you in which format you should upload your documents. Some companies even provide a preferred document file format when they request you to send your resume via e-mail.

Thus: No matter what program you used to type up your resume, save it or convert it to the format requested by the employer. They will have a good reason as to why they need the documents in this specific format.


Common Document File Formats

In most cases, you are requested or expected to send your application as a PDF or Microsoft Word document.


PDF documents have the advantage that they contained a fixed layout. This means that the formatting will always look exactly the same no matter with which program you open the file. It even stays the same when printing.



Microsoft Word has two very common extension for it’s documents: .doc and .docx

Even if you have the newest version of Microsoft Office, we advise you from saving your writing as .docx documents. These files are still relatively new and may not be compatible with the Microsoft Office version of your employer or with the ATS they use. Instead, use the older and more widely accepted .doc file extension.

In newer versions of MS Word you need to go to File > Save As to save your document as .doc, but even when you are using LibreOffice or OpenOffice you can choose this option.


Additional Notes

Once you chose the requested or best possible format for your resume, there are only minor things to consider. One is the name of your document. While you may have only one document on your hard drive that is titled as “Resume”, the employer receives many files with this very name every day. Make it easier for the employer to find and recognize your resume by using your full name in the file naming.

E.g. JackJohnsonResume.doc or Resume_JanetWaters.pdf


The rule of thumb is:

Make it as easy as possible for your employer to read your resume!