Getting your resume filename and file format right for LinkedIn

PUBLISHED 3 May 2023 - UPDATED 15 Aug 2023

When you apply for a job on LinkedIn, the content of your resume (or CV, as we call it here in the UK) is of course vitally important. But it's also worth giving consideration to the filename and file format you use.

I am not a recruiter, but I have occasionally used LinkedIn to advertise job vacancies when working in-house - and then been responsible for sifting through the applications. So the advice in this article is very much written from first-hand experience! Here are three tips to choosing the right filename and file format for your CV or resume on LinkedIn.

Use PDF rather than Word format

When a recruiting company posts a job vacancy on LinkedIn, they can choose to receive applications 'by email' or 'at an external site':

LinkedIn Applicant collection dropdown

If they choose 'by email', the application process takes place entirely on LinkedIn itself - and it's this style that requires the candidate to attach their resume to their application.

This form of application is also called Easy Apply - not just because the applicant stays on LinkedIn, but also because LinkedIn will auto-complete many of the fields for them (such as their contact details). You can tell at a glance when a vacancy is set to 'Easy Apply' because the application button says 'Easy Apply' rather than just 'Apply':

Easy Apply button on LinkedIn

During the Easy Apply application process, the applicant will be prompted to upload their resume from a local device - or choose a file they uploaded previously as part of another application:

Upload resume on LinkedIn

Once the recruiter receives an application, they will be able to view it privately on the 'View applicants' page. If the resume is in PDF format, they will see it displayed here in a little scrolling panel. But if the resume is in Word (.doc or .docx) format, an icon is displayed instead:

Resume icon on LinkedIn

This means the recruiter will need to take the additional step of clicking the 'Download' button to see the resume. And it gets worse! With Word resumes, the 'Download' button doesn't even appear until you hover over the icon; with PDF resumes, it's visible all the time.

To be fair, the PDF resumes are quite difficult to read on LinkedIn - so in almost all cases the recruiter will click to download them anyway. But using PDF format at least gives the recruiter a nice visual overview of your resume (which I'm sure is very pretty). So to ensure the best recruiter experience, opt for PDF format over Word format.

(PDFs have other benefits too: they are more likely to retain their layout and formatting, for example. With Word documents there's always a risk that the recruiter will open it with a different version of the software and something will go awry. I'd recommend using PDF format for your resume wherever you can, not just on LinkedIn.)

Don't call the file 'CV' or 'Resume'

When the recruiter clicks Download and saves the resume to their own machine, the file will still have the same filename that the applicant gave it.

Quite possibly the recruiter will be downloading a large number of resumes at once, or at least a large number to the same folder. If a resume has a generic name like 'CV' or 'Resume', the recruiter will need to rename it - both to be able to keep track of who it belongs to, and to stop it being overwritten by another file with the same name.

So it's far better to include your own name (first name and last name) in your resume filename: something like 'James Clark CV'. This might seem like an obvious hint, but when I was recently involved in recruiting for a role I would say 30% of the applicants used a generic name.

Be careful with months and years in the filename

Another tip is to be careful with months and years in your resume's filename. If you're like me, you'll name each version of your resume after the month you created it: 'James Clark CV Nov 2022', for example. This lets you see at a glance how old each version is, and which is the newest.

But if you apply for a job in April 2023 and attach a resume called 'James Clark CV Nov 2022', the recruiting manager will know you haven't updated or tailored your resume for their role. They won't feel special, and you'll have lost the chance to make a good first impression.

This mistake is particularly easy to do when choosing a resume you previously uploaded to LinkedIn as part of another application. LinkedIn lets you upload and download resumes, but not change the filename. So if you want to do that, you will need to:

  1. Download your resume
  2. Rename the file
  3. Upload the new file
  4. (Optional) Delete the old file

And if you do want to do the final step, deleting an old resume, you can't do it as part of the application process. Instead you'll need to go to Jobs > Application Settings > Upload Resume. Click on the 'three dots' menu icon alongside one of your resumes, and you'll find an option to delete it:

Delete resume on LinkedIn

So either avoid using months and years in your filename entirely, or include them and double check they are up to date. Of course, if you tailor your resume for the job you are applying for each time, there shouldn't be a problem.

One last thing: if you are in the process of applying for a job right now - best of luck to you!

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James Clark
Hi! I'm James Clark and I'm a freelance web analyst from the UK. I'm here to help with your analytics, ad operations, and SEO issues.
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