Resumes; Word doc or PDF?

I initially created my resume as a PDF file, as it was noted by a few articles and sites that I’d read that formatting can be disrupted when Word docs are uploaded sometimes to job application forms. Then I submitted my PDF resume to a resume review service and they said NOT to use a PDF because Applicant Tracking Systems have a harder time extracting information correctly from them and that I SHOULD use a Word doc. On top of that, some application forms I’ve encountered give no PDF options, only Word doc or .txt files, etc.

So what gives? Do the ATS programs really have a hard time reading PDFs, or is there some trick to formatting the PDF to ensure accessibility by those programs?

Upload whichever the site wants. It’s that simple. Most engines should be able to handle either format as long as it’s a text document - I’d suspect the PDFs that give trouble are (ARRRGH!) scanned-image ones.

Use a simple font without too many variations. Don’t bother a whole helluva lot with formatting except to keep it organized. Nearly all applicant searches these days are done by automated keyword search and matching. Think of it as REO - Resume Engine Optimization.

I can see this because there’s no guarantee a PDF is machine readable as is…it may be just a printed image in need of OCR. Whereas, a word document would already be readable without that step.

Make the best of both worlds.

Create your master document as a Word .docx file.

[ul]
[li]Do not user other document formats such as .doc or .rtf as they cannot create acceptable accessible documents.[/li][li]If you want to ensure accessibility, do not use the built-in Word Accessibility Checker. While it “works”, it does not follow the required technical standards for accessibility found under WCAG 2.0, or Section 508 (for US federal government). Only Microsoft knows what it does and Microsoft has a long and inglorious history of not meeting standards. (Whatever you do, don’t listen to Microsoft about accessibility. They have failed at it for more than 20 years. )[/li][/ul]
Once you have your final Word document, you can create an accessible PDF from it.

[ul]
[li]However, the only tool that is able to create a fully accessible PDF is Adobe’s full version of Adobe Acrobat Pro DC. All other PDF creators cannot create accessible PDFs that meet WCAG 2.0 or 508.[/li][/ul]
The best sources for creating accessible documents in the US are the federal government and universities. Be aware that most how to guides haven’t caught up with the real world and seem to be stuck on Word 2010. So if you are using Word 2013, or later, pretty much the 2010 information remains accurate. Here are three excellent sources:
[ul]
[li] https://www.ssa.gov/accessibility/files/The_Social_Security_Administration_Accessible_Document_Authoring_Guide_2.1.2.pdf (PDF warning)[/li][li] http://www.hhs.gov/web/section-508/making-files-accessible/[/li][li] https://helpx.adobe.com/acrobat/using/create-verify-pdf-accessibility.html[/li][/ul]
Now you can submit a Word document or PDF document as circumstances require. Just remember if you make a content change or update to your master Word document, you have to follow all of the same steps in order to recreate a new accessible PDF.

Most ATS should have no problem reading either document. The key with PDFs is it must be an actual accessible document, and not a scanned image document. A scanned PDF contains no OCR information.

Thanks for the information!

[quote=“Duckster, post:4, topic:761139”]

[li]However, the only tool that is able to create a fully accessible PDF is Adobe’s full version of Adobe Acrobat Pro DC. All other PDF creators cannot create accessible PDFs that meet WCAG 2.0 or 508.[/li][/QUOTE]

Not even Adobe Acrobat Standard DC? What about the standalone, non-cloud-based versions of Adobe Acrobat (Pro or Standard)?

This does make sense, but still… I apologize if I’m veering into GD territory…

Suppose my resume makes it past the first winnowing, and a human actually looks at it. Don’t I want to grab his attention? I have found various formatting tricks that will show the information in a manner that is very easy for a human to figure out, yet fits on less than two printed pages. I fear that this format will be difficult for machines to parse, but if I write plainly, then the printed version will be tediously long.

How do I find an effective middle ground?

Write something that even an idiot can read, and only idiots will want to read it.
Write a resume that even a machine can read, and only machines will want to read it.

Acrobat Pro, version XI or later.

Holy shit, Duckster, that’s some great info in post 4 - thank you!

Tip on getting an application past the initial automated screening:
Copy and past the job description at the end of your resume, set font size to 1 and text color to white.
Doesn’t take up much space, is extremely unlikely to be noticed, and almost guarantees that your resume contains any keywords necessary to pass the initial screen :D.

Sneaky… I like it :slight_smile:

This was a [del]SEO[/del] marketing trick used on the web for a while so as to artificially raise a site’s rankings with search engines. Google and other search engines apparently changed their algorithms where any site that did this was banned from search results.

Word docs are device-dependent. They can change (fonts, formatting) if the receiver has different printer drivers loaded. PDF files usually do not have this problem.