Jobscan recently tested some of the most widely used applicant tracking systems or ATS. We found that when file names are visible to ATS, they’re the first thing that recruiters see.
The way you name your resume file can tell a lot about you, including your interest in the position, qualifications, and personality.
Choosing a bad file name can give recruiters the wrong impression. It can also lead them to dismiss your application straightaway.
Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen! In this article, we’ll teach you how to name your resume file so your application stands out and makes recruiters want to get to know you better.
Table of Contents
- Why your resume file name matters
- How to write a good resume file name (with examples)
- Examples of poor resume file names
Why your resume file name matters
Your resume file name may be the last thing you think about when writing your resume, but it matters more than you think. Here are three reasons why:
1) Your file name could impact how your resume is read by an ATS
Your file name might affect how your resume gets read by an ATS. This software helps companies manage the hiring process by collecting, sorting, and analyzing resumes.
When you send a resume with a file name that ATS has trouble reading, it could create a file name with words mixed up or that’s hard to read.
2) Your resume file name hints at your qualifications
Put yourself in the recruiter’s shoes. What would you think of a candidate who sends in a resume with a file name that looks like this: “Resume(1)”?
You might think that candidate is careless, unqualified, or simply not interested enough in the job to bother to name their resume file correctly.
On the other hand, a well-named resume communicates strong interest, enthusiasm, and a keen attention to detail.
3) A good resume file name sets you apart from other candidates
The way you name your resume file can make it easier for recruiters to differentiate you from other candidates, even before they go through what’s inside the document.
It also makes locating your resume faster, so when your application comes to mind, recruiters can quickly access your file.
What’s more, using a file name with unique details about your qualifications or personal brand can help make your resume easier to remember.
How to write a good resume file name (with examples)
Here are seven tips on how to properly name your resume file:
Tip #1 – Follow the instructions stated in the job description
Some job ads aren’t specific about how they want candidates to name their resumes, but when they are, be sure to follow those instructions to a tee.
These instructions are usually to help recruiters review resumes more efficiently. But in many cases, they’re there because that’s how the ATS they use will scan resumes for the job.
Not following file naming instructions may cause your resume to be ignored or not seen at all by recruiters.
Tip #2 – Include your first and last name
The best way to set your resume apart is to include both your first and last names when naming your resume file.
For example, instead of writing, “Resume.pdf”, write, “John_Smith_Resume.pdf”. (If you have a common name like John Smith, you might also want to include your middle name as well).
This way, recruiters can quickly tell the difference between your resume and those of other candidates.
Tip #3 – Make your file name reflect your personal brand
If you are a seasoned professional with lots of expertise and qualifications, building a personal brand can help you stand out from other candidates.
This is particularly beneficial to those in creative industries or full-time freelancers who are always trying to attract potential clients and projects.
Here are a few tips on how to do it:
- Tell recruiters what you’re good at. Pay attention to how people describe you or what people say are your strengths – and then briefly yet descriptively include it in your resume file name.
- Have a clear value proposition. What is it that you can do that will make you a great asset to the company? If you’re applying as a fitness instructor, for instance, you might want to include “Fitness Coach” in your file name.
- Give a sneak peek at your story. Your personal branding is a story about you: your career journey, passions, accomplishments, and more. Your file name can give a brief preview of what you’re about.
Some examples of personal branding in a resume file name are:
Tip #4 – Separate words with hyphens or underscores
To make your resume file name clear and readable, separate words with a hyphen or an underscore.
Refrain from using any other special characters, like an asterisk or dash. These characters may result in ATS parsing errors.
Also, avoid combining all the words together, such as “JohnSmithResume.pdf”. Recruiters may have a hard time reading your file name like this.
In addition, although using all lowercase letters won’t affect how your file is analyzed by an ATS, capitalizing the first letter of every word makes your resume file name easier to read.
Tip #5 – Exclude version numbers
You should always customize your resume to fit the job that you’re applying for. Because of this, you’ll most likely end up with several versions of your resume.
However, you should NOT show recruiters that you’re sending them one among many of your resume versions.
Resume file names that display the resume version, such as “Resume_2023_1” or “Resume-Sales-2” don’t look good from a recruiter’s perspective. Instead, convey that you’re submitting a resume that’s tailor-fit to the job.
For example, you can name your resume “John-Smith-HR-Manager-Resume.pdf”.
Here are other ways to manage resume versions:
- Keep a master resume file. Keeping a master file that contains all your work history and background will ensure that you don’t lose any information as you create several versions of your resume.
- Include the company name. Indicating the company name is another way to customize your resume file while making it easy for you to manage resume versions.
- Indicate the current year. Including the year can also further customize your resume and make it easier to keep track of which version is most current.
Tip #6 – Keep your resume file name short
Your resume file name should be short yet descriptive. You don’t want it to be so long that recruiters won’t be able to read the whole name when viewing the file.
To do this, make sure your file name is only around 24 characters.
You can also check whether your file name is too long by viewing the attached file in your email. The entire file name of your attached resume should be visible.
Tip #7 – Name your additional documents the same as your resume
If you’re submitting additional documents, such as a portfolio or cover letter, you should name them the same way you would your resume.
Follow the format “FirstName_LastName_Portfolio” to make your file names consistent.
Doing this will ensure that any additional documents you send will be successfully parsed by an ATS.
Bonus Tip – Use a suitable file format for your resume
To make sure the ATS can correctly parse your resume, always save it as either a .doc, .docx, .rtf, or .pdf file. Any other file type may affect the readability of your resume and cause parsing errors.
Also, avoid using graphics, tables, charts, and other design elements in your resume. These can confuse the ATS, if they aren’t formatted correctly. It’s best to play it safe and not use those features at all.
To make sure that your resume’s file name and file format is ATS-compatible, consider using a tool like Jobscan’s resume scanner.
The scanner works like this: paste your resume and the job description into the tool and click “scan”. You’ll then receive a Match Report.
The Match Report gives you personalized feedback based on best practices for writing a resume, including file name and format.
Here’s an example of the “file type” section of the Match Report:
Make the fixes suggested by the Match Report to give your resume the best chance of making it into the hands of a hiring manager and getting an interview.
You can try Jobscan’s resume scanner for free here.
Make your resume stand out and get noticed
Upload your resume to see what’s missing and get a free match rate.
Examples of poor resume file names
Now that we know how to properly name your resume file, here are some examples of resume file mistakes to avoid:
- Resume-latest version.pdf
- Janet-Parker-SEO content creator, blogger, and travel enthusiast.docx
- Final Resume.pdf
Remember that your resume file name may not be the deciding factor for whether you get hired, but using one that’s clear, descriptive, and specific can boost your chances of standing out and making the right impression.
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