You see the selection offered on almost every online job application, “Submit your resume as a DOC or PDF”. Most people have a copy of both a DOC and PDF resume. You probably do as well, so how do you know which one is best to submit?
The answer is a little more complicated than most realize
Reasons for submitting a PDF resume
A PDF resume removes the possibility of your resume accidentally being altered by unknown parties during the application process. You do not want to give strangers the ability to edit all the hard work you put into your resume. This way, people who receive your resume will get the polished resume you want them to see all of the time. In addition, a PDF resume will guarantee the formatting and design of your resume will remain unchanged.
Reasons for submitting a DOC resume
It is hard to argue with any reasoning based on “fear of what strangers might do with your resume”, but there are reasons to use DOC files, too.
Most importantly, applicant tracking systems have an easier time scanning all the words in DOC files. Some ATS software may have a difficult time scanning your PDF file, which means your PDF resume may fail to reach an actual person. Of course, as software improves this will no longer be an issue but for now, the problem still exists. Only about 80% of all ATS software can handle PDF while nearly 100% can handle DOC files.
It is a good idea to have a PDF and DOC version of your resume. PDF’s will be better for sending to people you know, will be virus-free and much better looking in format than a DOC file. PDF’s are great resumes to send to referrals and they will look the same each time.
A DOC file is a better choice when using online applications that will go through an ATS of some kind. You want to make sure all the important keywords are scanned properly. DOC files are also size-friendly for those online job application websites that have size limits on file attachments. If your PDF is too big, it is great to have the same resume on DOC.
At the end of the day, you are going to need both because finding work requires a combination of networking with people and applying through online job applications.