Why Does My Resume Need to be in Microsoft Word?

There are two kinds of recruiters and they ask for your resume in Microsft Word for two separate reasons:

  • One kind of recruiter works for an outside agency that gets paid by a client to find candidates for a particular position. This recruiter gets paid only when the position is filled. This type of recruiter may take off your contact information and send the resume to the client. This is to make sure the client doesn’t contact you directly. The recruiter wants to make sure he/she gets paid! That’s why these outside recruitment firms prefer an editable Word document.
  • The other recruiter works within a company, and is typically using an applicant tracking systems (ATS). These systems often don’t do well understanding the PDF format. If you submit your resume in Microsoft Word, the system lets the recruiter search your resume for keywords, and view them easily.


Presenting your work experience section in columns, or creating fancy text boxes and graphics and non-standard fonts.

Taleo and other ATS systems may mangle it so it may actually look hideous.

  • Bullet points are fine.
  • Don’t take your margins all the way to the edge. Leave some white space.


When you save the file, do File…Save As… Then from File Format dropdown, select Word 97-2004 Document (.doc)

This makes your resume “backward compatible” so if a recruiter is using an older version of Word, it still works.

How to Save a Word File, File, Save As...



If your resume is not in Microsoft Word right now, take a few minutes to create a simply formatted Word doc.

Best of luck!

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