When you’re job hunting, your desktop is likely full of documents with a unique resume file name to keep them distinguishable. But when it comes time to submit your polished resume, what should the final file name be?

The way you name your resume file can tell a lot about you, including your interest in the position, qualifications, and personality. We asked career experts to weigh in and give their advice on naming your resume file. 

Keep reading to learn:

  • How to name your resume file.
  • Why your resume file name matters.
  • What to avoid when naming your resume file.

Table of Contents

How to name your resume file

Before you press submit on your application, look at your resume file name. While it may seem like an meaningless detail, Aiyaz Uddin, founder of TheStaffingCircle says it’s anything but. 

“Recruiters and hiring managers can see the name of your application documents, including resumes and cover letters, in various places throughout the hiring process. This means your file name acts as your first impression, potentially influencing whether your application gets noticed or tossed aside.”

There are a few acceptable naming conventions to choose from.

  • FirstName_LastName_JobTitle.pdf
  • FirstName-LastName-JobTitle.pdf

Your file could also be a Word document. Both are acceptable formats.

Remember that your resume file name is always visible, whether your resume is going to the hiring manager’s inbox, applying through a job portal, or submitting your resume from LinkedIn

Tips to write a good resume file name

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 applicant tracking system, or ATS, they use will scan resumes for the job.

Every time you apply for a role, your resume goes into the ATS, which houses your resume for hiring managers to organize.

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:

  • John_Smith_SEO_Expert_Resume.pdf
  • Janet_Jobscan_Resume_Expert_Resume.pdf
  • Jane-Doe-Life-Coach-Resume.pdf

Tip 4: Separate words with hyphens or underscores

To make your resume file 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 tailor 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.

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 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.

For example:

screenshot of a resume file name

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:

screenshot of the match report showing the feedback from the resume scanner on the resume file name

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.

Make your resume stand out and get noticed

Upload your resume to see what’s missing and get a free match rate.

View full results and optimize your resume

Why does your resume file name matter?

Your 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:

A polished resume file name is a good first impression

You don’t have to wait until the hiring manager opens your resume to leave a good impression. A resume file name can display:

  • Professionalism
  • Memorability
  • Organization

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.

“A clear and concise file name reflects attention to detail and professionalism,” Uddin explains “making a positive first impression before recruiters even open your resume.”

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.

If you’re standing out among the rest of the applicants with file names like “resume.docx,” you’re more memorable to the hiring team. 

A polished resume file name also has another benefit: it puts you in the hiring manager’s good graces right off the bat. Uddin shares his insight that “when dealing with numerous applications, recruiters appreciate clear file names that make sorting and searching efficient.”

When you apply for jobs among hundreds of other applicants, a clear resume file name benefits:

  • Targeted applications
  • The applicant tracking system (ATS)

Including the job title in your resume file name targets your application for the role you’re specifically applying for, which can increase relevance.

Your file name could impact how your resume is read by an ATS

When the hiring manager inputs keywords into their ATS search, resumes with these keywords rise to the top. Uddin shares that this can also apply to file names. 

“Some ATS use keywords from file names to filter applications, so including relevant terms can boost your visibility.”

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. 

With a clear, easy to understand file name, it’s easier for the hiring manager to retrieve and revisit later. 

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.docx
  • Resume.version2.docx
  • Resume-2023.docx
  • Resume-latest version.pdf
  • Resume_current.pdf
  • johnsmithresume.pdf
  • John|Smith|Resume.pdf
  • Janet-Parker-SEO content creator, blogger, and travel enthusiast.docx
  • Hilary.pdf
  • 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.


How should you name your resume file?

According to Uddin, when in doubt, use the following best practices to help you name your resume file appropriately:

  • Include your full name: This identifies you clearly.
  • Mention the job title: Shows relevance and targeted application.
  • Use relevant keywords: Align with the job description and potential ATS filters.
  • Keep it concise and professional: Avoid jargon, emojis, or excessive capitalization.
  • Maintain consistency: Use the same format for all application documents.

Example: John_Doe_Resume_Software_Engineer.pdf

What file should a resume be in?

A resume is typically submitted as a PDF or Word file. PDF is a universal file format that preserves the formatting of your document and ensures it looks the same across different devices and operating systems. 

It also helps maintain the layout and design integrity of your resume, preventing any unintended changes that may occur when opening the file on different computers or software applications.

Submitting your resume as a PDF ensures that:

  • Formatting is Preserved: Your resume will maintain its original layout, fonts, and styling, regardless of the device or software used to view it.
  • Compatibility: PDFs can be opened and viewed on almost any device or operating system using free PDF reader software such as Adobe Acrobat Reader, making them accessible to recruiters and hiring managers.

You can also submit your resume in other formats such as Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx). However, read the job description closely to see if there’s a preferred file format for resume submissions.

Should my resume be a PDF?

A PDF is an ideal way to submit your resume. Here are several reasons why:

  • Protection from Alteration: PDF files are typically “read-only,” meaning they cannot be easily edited or altered. This helps to prevent unauthorized changes to your resume content or formatting.
  • Ease of Printing: Recruiters or hiring managers may want to print your resume for review or to share with others. PDFs ensure that your resume prints consistently and accurately, preserving its visual appeal.

While some employers may request resumes in other formats such as Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx), providing your resume as a PDF unless instructed otherwise is generally considered a best practice in the job application process. It helps to ensure that your document is presented professionally and consistently across different platforms and devices.

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Kelsey Purcell

Kelsey is a Content Writer with a background in content creation, bouncing between industries to educate readers everywhere.

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