PDF versus WORD format

Monday, June 23rd, 2008 - CV Examples, CV Tips, CV Writing, how to make a cv, How to Write a CV, Job Application, job search, tutorial


Which CV format

Matthew asks: It seems that companies are still hung up on insisting that resumes be sent in Word format. Even worse are the proprietary job sites that won’t let you do anything but paste it in text format which then corresponds to fields they’ve chosen – this has the unexpected consequence of coddling prospective employees by forcing them into a ‘rubric’ that keeps the chronology and skill set, but otherwise strips all context from their profile. While of course the simple facts of a person’s job history is important, whether you can format a document properly or present your professional history without omitting important details is important too. I have taken to submitting in PDF by default when there is no clarification one way or the other. I will only send in Word if they explicitly say so, and I’m honestly less inclined to even apply for jobs that only look at the fields that they have set up. What do you think? I understand the need to have a standard set of data fields to sort through lots of candidates, but other than the basics, the resume as a form of presentation is also important. I can’t tell you how many times I noticed resumes for prospective new hires that were in Word format but were very badly formatted. The result was often a fairly ugly, cumbersome document that probably looked fine on their home computer – but PDF’s eliminate that potential altogether. I know some will argue that PDF’s are not always easy to create for free – but that is rapidly changing, and if MS Office has the capability and most online web office suites do, then that’s about as mainstream as it can get. Maybe the job sites can build an applet within their site that allows you to convert as you submit? I’m curious to hear what people think, especially HR staff and recruiters.

In Answer:
From a technology and preservation of information view point, PDF has much to offer. But, your resume is about selling you, and if you make it more difficult for the Recruiter or HR person reviewing for the position, then they will reject you.

– Some posts ask for specific information. The fact you were asked to submit that and made it more difficult to include that information by using PDF is a problem
– Your CV/Resume may be perfect, but the Recruiter doesn’t want to send it out in their non-house format, with your contact details on so that they miss out on their billable fee
– OCR is not yet perfect technology!

Our inhouse management system has an OCR, but its five times as quick to process a candidates details when the information is in WORD over PDF.

Its your CV/Resume, selling you – so think about the person buying you as well.

Good Luck!

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