PDF Resume or Word Resume: Which Do Australian Employers Prefer?

How to decide on the right resume format.

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Irene McConnell
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December 8, 2020

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If you have been on the job hunt in Australia recently, you may have noticed a seemingly random phenomenon. Some job ads will specifically request that you send your resume in Word format, while others are equally emphatic in asking for a PDF resume format.

Which resume format should you default to when the employer does not provide instructions?

While recruiters and hiring managers probably do have preferences, the preferred format, unfortunately, will differ from company to company. If in doubt, it’s always best to consult a career professional for resume formatting advice.

To help you in the meantime, I will:

  • Tell you which resume format you should default to in Australia
  • Tell you about the pros and cons of PDF and Word resume formats.

The PDF Resume Format.

Pros:

The biggest advantage of a PDF is that it ensures that formatting is consistent across any computer or device. You can rest assured that the resume you produced will be seen as it was intended by a recruiter or hiring manager.

This enables you to be more creative in terms of graphic design, resulting in a slicker, more professional presentation.

Cons:

The main issue with PDF is its occasional incompatibility with Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). ATS is an AI-powered software that scans a resume for keywords in much the same way a recruiter would, creating a shortlist of candidates.

Although it is not as much of an issue now, some older Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software can have trouble scanning resumes in PDF, particularly if there are complex graphics or texts embedded in images.

Additionally, Australian recruiters often need to edit your resume before sending it to an employer, to remove your contact details and insert their logo.

PDFs aren’t as easy to edit, so this may work against you in terms of whether a recruiter can be bothered to convert your PDF into a Word document in a time-poor environment.

(Related: Key Differences Between Cover Letters And Resumes).

The Word Resume Format.

Pros:

The main advantages of Word are that everyone has it and it is the most compatible format with ATS.

Recruiters can easily amend resumes before sending them off to their clients, and they can also add comments and track changes if they want.

Cons:

Word’s editability is also its weakness.

A Word document on your computer may look completely different on another device. Some resume fonts may not even convert into legible text on someone else’s computer, and margins often show up in different sizes.

It is also possible that changes can be made to your resume without your knowledge, intentionally or unintentionally.

Final Australian Resume Format Tips.

As a general rule, always follow the instructions outlined in the job ad.

If the employer doesn’t specify a preferred resume format, use PDF format If you are sending your application to a person. In doing so, you’ll minimise risks associated with formatting anomalies.

Use Word format when sending your resume through LinkedIn, a company website or an online jobs portal, to increase its readability by Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS).


– Irene
 

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