Every once in a while I get a question from a client about their resume’s formatting after their resume is complete. My unique process of writing live with the client throughout the resume development phase means that they watch their resume on my screen during its development. They know what it looks like and have had input in the product throughout the development phase. Whether they are in my Wausau, Wisconsin office or in New York or California (or Florida or Texas) or even in the United Kingdom, they have seen their resume.
Throughout the process, I send updates of our work so they do get to see it on their end too but sometimes when I send that final product, they are concerned because things don’t look the same. The first thing I check is the application they are using on their end to open it. I will get files in Google Docs instead of Word files back from clients.
Why Google Docs is not the same as Microsoft Word
I might reply, “The file you sent was a Google Docs file and I was thinking about our discussion yesterday about the box formatting issue. Many factors will affect how a document looks and feels. Google docs is a poor substitute for Microsoft Word. Formatting is not the same.”
Schools in this area are pushing for students to use Google Docs. The reason is financial. It is much cheaper to equip computers in schools with Google Docs than full blow Microsoft Office versions. In school, it probably doesn’t matter as much. A paper written in Google Docs is fine because formatting is low-end.
The WOW factor of resumes I create for clients comes from both my skills as a professional resume writer to create the right strategy to market the client and my ability to use Microsoft Word’s features to enhance and format the resume. It is also the reason that my clients continually win new roles. Though I produce my resumes in Microsoft Word, my clients also receive a PDF file. PDFs are a picture of the document and don’t vary from computer to computer. But most of the time when a client is having a file problem, they are opening the Word file in Google Docs.
What device are you using to read the resume?
I had another client perplexed that her resume didn’t look or feel anything like the one she had seen on my screen in my office. I emailed her back and asked what she was opening it on and with. Turns out she was using her iPhone and/or iPad… neither of these will open a Word document correctly. Microsoft Surface is a hybrid of computer and tablet and as a Microsoft product, it is more likely to have Word installed.
You do have to consider our changing world. Employers, recruiters, and hiring managers may look at a document on his or her phone or tablet if it comes to them by email. However, when they want to give it a serious look, they will open it in Word on a computer.
When you are applying online, the newer Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are now opening Microsoft Word files and not distorting them as they did in the past. Most will also take a PDF. However, you can also cut and paste a text (ASCII) version of the resume (ugly). Text versions don’t convert bullets and other characters into strange gibberish.
Remember these tips when you prepare your resume. The file type matters and the device matters. I still advocate for serious candidates to use Microsoft Word to prepare their resume. Other programs are a poor substitute.
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