Posted on 26 May 2010


YES! Your Resume’s File Name DOES Matter



Resumes are digital now. That’s good for everybody–easy to share, easy to search, easy to save, easy on the trees.  It’s all good. But in an attempt for job seekers to keep their resume files organized, people are forgetting that other people read not only the content, but the file name you give your sweet little piece of literary masterwork*. Be warned. Some resumes may get a bad-rap from the beginning because of a slip-up in the file name.

imageMy recommendation is a file name that actually sells you a little bit. For example, if you’re going for a project manager position and your name is Joe Cool, try out a file name like: “Resume–Joe_Cool–Talented_Project_Manager.pdf” and just see if you don’t get more bites on that little nugget of visual eye-candy of a hook!

Some real-world examples of either bad file names or pet-peeves of recruiters (ok, of me):

  • resume.doc – Really? I am a recruiter. Do you think I may, possibly, already have a file named that already somewhere on my system? I will have to rename your resume in order to save it (or rename some other file).  You may risk just getting deleted if you’re not a standout candidate.
  • 2009 resume.doc – This is worse than the previous one. Not only are you absent of creativity, you also haven’t updated your resume since last year.  Believe it or not, I have seen years in resume file-names dating back three years.
  • 2010 resume.doc – This one tells me that you look for a job at least annually.  This one is your current years’ attempt at a new gig.  I should tell facilities to not spend a lot on your office’s name-plate. You won’t be around long.
  • Micorsoft Resume.doc – If you’re applying for a job at a company (say, Microsoft), and you use that company name in the resume file name, please spell it right!
  • Apple Resume.doc — If you’re applying for a job at a company (say, Microsoft), please get the company name right!
  • anything.docx – “docx” is the new file format used in Microsoft Office 2007 or later. Some people don’t have that version of office and may not read your resume… or it may come out formatted very differently than you intended!
  • anything.doc – In fact, not every company uses Microsoft Word. You’d be much better off saving your resume as a PDF file, which is nearly universal in both availability to view and formatting fidelity.  Use something like PDFCreator (free) to “print” any document to a PDF file.
  • Joe_2010.05.0113.doc – You’re either seriously OCD organized, a librarian or an operating system. I don’t know what that says about you, but be aware.
  • Resume10_v3.doc – This doesn’t really matter to me what version your resume is, other than for some reason you keep changing it.  I don’t care, but you did lose an opportunity to share something about you in your file-name that might have made you a little more memorable.

*Please, please do not actually try and make your resume anything resembling a literary masterwork.

21 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Robert Merrill Says:

    Getting tons of resumes just called “novell.doc” (where I work).

    Giving them all a +1 because that’s even more vague than “resume.doc” Imagine how awesome that will be to find again on my computer when I am searching for your resume.

    role-play: “Let’s see… it was named something about (insert-your-company-name-here). I will just search my (company-name) computer and email for everything containing (my-company’s-name) and see what comes back.”

  2. Robert Merrill Says:

    Resume just received has title of “Copy_of_the_most_uptodate_resume_2_.doc”. Awesome.

  3. Robert Merrill Says:

    If you really are an Expert at something, do/should you say so in the heading of your resume?

  4. Robert Merrill Says:

    Just received a resume in WPS format. Yes, “Microsoft Works”. (Hint: A text file would have been easier to open) #resume #hfchat

  5. Robert Merrill Says:

    Yeah, just corrected an applicant’s miss-spelled name in his resume’s file name before submission to the manager. #RecruitersGetNoRespect

  6. Robert Merrill Says:

    “*Please, please do not actually try and make your resume anything resembling a literary masterwork.”

  7. Lauren Hopkins Says:

    I avoid the .doc and .docx issue by sending my resume as a PDF

  8. Robert Merrill Says:

    @GreekLauren Good job! Yes, PDF solves this problem most of the time. Find the “PDF Creator” program on SourceForge if you want a free PDF “printer” program… it sets up a “Printer” on your computer that, when you print to it, creates a PDF file of whatever you’re working on.

  9. Greg Johnson Says:

    As an executive coach, I see this all the time. Great common sense advice. Just a little bit can make you stand out in a positive way.

  10. Robert Merrill Says:

    @GregAboveTheRim Sometimes, it’s the littlest things! Remember that there are PEOPLE on the other side of the hiring process too… how would you like to be treated? Personal introductions by a trusted, shared colleague, being treated like a professional, custom attention to detail, respect for their time, even thank you letters… all of them can make a difference.

  11. Aga Nowosad-Kelly Says:

    That’s really good advice. Did not think that naming my resume would be so important. But i do get the point and will use that knowledge in the future.

  12. Robert Merrill Says:

    @AgaNKelly naming your resume may not make all the difference, but it does make some difference! Good luck

  13. Robert Merrill Says:

    After you actually WIN the interview, don’t blow it. Avoid these Nine Ways to Ruin An Interview: http://bit.ly/aqIzx0

  14. Lahesha Wms. Says:

    I’m guilty of using the instance where it’s APPARENT that I have OCD 🙂 My file names usually consist of a combination of the date, company name, position title, underscores, and my name!

    Thanks for this post…going forward I will definitely use the “sales pitch” type file name – never that about that!

  15. Robert Merrill Says:

    Sounds like a good plan of attack to me 🙂

  16. Lee Says:

    Excellent advice; we see anywhere from 10 – 100 CVs (resumes) every day.  From our point of view, trying to locate 1 CV from a folder of 100 without the client’s name wastes a lot of time.  

    Seems like such a small issue but small things such as this, can make such a difference for job seekers by making the recruiter’s job easier.

  17. Jim Durbin Says:

    Be careful.  Most recruiters hate pdf’s because they can’t be formatted into ATS files.  If you’re sending it, send one doc and one pdf.  
    Also, if you have a Mac, searching by name pulls up the document even if it’s not in the file name. 

  18. Robert Merrill Says:

    Great points, Jim. Macs are apparently smarter than PCs…. though most corporate HR likely are still on the latter.

    Also, it seems that most modern ATS systems I am using seem to do a reasonable job with parsing PDF files as long as they are “printed” or “saved as pdf” from whatever application made them. If you print it on paper, then SCAN it into a PDF file (what?) or some other black-magic way of getting a PDF, then, yeah, you’re gonna have problems.

    If you’re not sure, send two copies. Chances are high at least someone can READ one of the files, which is really the point.

    Just yesterday, someone sent me a “wps” file. Really, I can’t read that file format, folks. There are 10 computers in North America that still can, and I didnt think they were on the Internet.

  19. Runnin_Ute Says:

    Let’s see….

    Brad Merrill Resume.doc or .pdf usually. Although I will sometimes include either co name or position name. On my cover letter it is always the following: position company name.doc or .pdf I probably should use initials or name somewhere in it though. I was thinking about that yesterday when sending one out.  (nice thing about .doc is all versions of Word will read it – both before MSO 2007 and after. And conversely even if I have MSO 2010 I can save as a .doc file)

  20. Robert Merrill Says:

    Just got a resume titled “name – desired_title – emailaddress” brilliant.

  21. Viola Says:

    LOL! I was always sending my CV named “crystal fair.docx”, and never had a feedback. 🙂

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