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Today there are more office productivity programs than ever before, and this can cause problems when it comes to submitting your resume to potential employers. What if the file type you submit is incorrect? Since employment is the ultimate goal, having knowledge of each file type (and which one you should use) is essential.

1) What is a file type? File types are, at the simplest level, a particular way that information is encoded for storage in a computer file. Popular file types include .doc, .docx, .Pages, .pdf, .txt, .odt, and more.

2) What software produces each file type? Microsoft Office (specifically Word), the world’s most popular office productivity suite, can produce a wide range of file types. The most popular are .doc and .docx. Word can also produce .txt, .rtf, and .pdf files. Apple iWork produces .Pages files. Open Office (the free alternative to Microsoft Office) produces .odt files.

3) Which file type is best? While each file type has its advantages and disadvantages, which type is “best” is irrelevant. Your resume should be prepared in the file type that is most likely to be usable by employers. It would be a shame to be qualified for a job, and have an excellent resume, yet employers are unable to even open your resume because you chose the wrong file type. I recommend using a PDF file because both Microsoft Windows and Mac OS computers typically have built-in PDF reading capabilities.

4) File types to avoid. Most employers do not have Apple iWork, so avoid submitting your resume in the .Pages file type. Similarly, most employers do not have Open Office either, so do not submit an .odt file. In fact, opening an .odt file in Word (and opening a .doc/.docx file in Open Office) will probably ruin your formatting, turning your resume into a mess. Finally, avoid submitting a .docx file. Microsoft’s .docx file, introduced when Office 2010 was launched, is unopenable by older versions of Office without installing an additional plug-in.

In summary, make your resume appeal to the masses. Choose a file type (PDF) that is nearly guaranteed to open properly on all systems. As an added benefit, PDF files look identical on every operating system, so you do not need to worry about your formatting being destroyed due to system incompatibilities. Unless an employer requests a specific file type, PDF files are the safest option.

By Drew Roark