What to Name a Resume File & Cover Letter (10+ Tips)

Resume Help

This tutorial covers issues about how to save resumes and cover letters, such as naming a resume file or cover letter, using dashes or underlines, and capitalization. What should the title of your resume and cover letter be?

There are numerous variations—

And if you select the incorrect file name and format, you will simply lose your chances of being invited to an interview.

Relax.

This guide will demonstrate:

How to Choose an Effective Resume and Cover Letter Title

Tips for resume file name characteristics like capitalization and hyphens

There are 20+ resume and cover letter name samples.

Which format should you keep your job application documents in after naming your resume and cover letter files?

What to Name Your Resume and Cover Letter File?

What should I call my resume?

If you only remember one rule, make it this:

Never save your resume with the filename resume.doc.

According to our HR statistics study, each job ad issued by an HR manager receives 250 responses on average. If you apply with resume.doc as an attachment, it will be deleted immediately.

Instead, select one of the following two options:

1. Job Title-Name-Document

Before the recruiter ever opens your CV or cover letter, this one tells them everything they need to know. Here’s how it appears:

RIGHT
Jessica-Thomas-Assistant-Manager-Resume.docx

You can also change the job title and the document:

RIGHT
Jessica-Thomas-Resume-Assistant-Manager.pdf

2. Document-By-Name

The former name convention is excellent, but it may become too long.

Example?

If your name is Hubert Blaine Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorff and you’re applying for the position of junior construction project manager, drop the job title.

This is how it appears:

RIGHT

Malcolm-Washington-Cover-Letter.pdf

Pro Tip: Always start your cover letter and resume with your name. When your documents are saved in a folder with those of dozens of other candidates, they will remain together (in an alphabetical sorting method), one after the other.

Tips on Choosing the Perfect Resume File Name

The wording of your cover letter and resume names isn’t the only thing to consider.

Capitalization, word separation, file format, special characters, and other features are available.

Keeping this in mind—

Here are some more suggestions for naming your resume and cover letter files:

Capitalize First Letters Rather Than Lowercase

Because I work a lot with URLs, I was a great believer in keeping everything lowercase. They have a lot in common with file names.

When working with URLs, there is an implicit rule to use only lowercase letters. This is because systems other than Windows (for example, Unix) consider uppercase and lowercase names as two distinct files.

So I went online and looked up resume titles and cover letter file names to get a rough sense of the job market.

And, surprise, surprise—

Many recruiters regard all-lowercase file names for resumes and cover letters as “lazy” and “annoying.”

To be on the safe side, use title case and capitalize only the first letter of each word.

Also, keep your resume and cover letter names consistent.

Words Separated in a Cover Letter and Resume File Name

A resume saved as Dwayne Adams Resume.docx (with spaces) looks OK on your machine.

However—

Many human resources professionals will post your resume to their company’s server or into an applicant tracking system (ATS).

When this occurs, spaces may be substituted by other characters.

Here’s how a resume file name appears as a URL:

WRONG: http://company.com/applicants/Dwayne%20Adams%20Resume.docx

Isn’t it ugly?

To separate words, always use a hyphen or underscore.

You can use either one, however the underscore takes an additional keystroke (Shift + hyphen instead of just hyphen). Keep in mind that a hyphenated surname may generate confusion.

Whichever choice you choose, be consistent across all papers attached (resume, cover letter, list of references, portfolio of past work, etc.).

Pro Tip: How about smushing all the words together and capitalizing only the initial letter of each word to eliminate the need for spaces? This is known as a “camel case,” according to Stanford. Though this resume file name style is better for humans to read, it frequently clogs the ATS.

Names with Special Characters in Resumes and Cover Letters

When naming a resume file, only use English alphabet letters (A-Z), numerals (0-9), and dashes or underscores.

Apostrophes, commas, and accents in the word “résumé” cause chaos on both the ATS and desktop computers.

In your resume titles and file names, leave out dates, times, and version numbers. These are only meaningful to you. It’s just a cause of difficulty for recruiting managers.

Saving Resume and Cover Letter Files in Microsoft Word, PDF, or TXT Format?

In most circumstances, you can save and transmit your resume as a PDF document.

PDF papers display correctly on whatever device used by recruiters, whether an iPhone or a Chromebook.

However—

Check the job description first, as the employer may have a different choice.

Consider the following two examples:

Please send an email with the subject “Web Content Assistant” to jobs@********.com, along with a cover letter and resume PDF.

However, this is also a possibility:

To apply for this position, please use the form below to upload your resume as a Microsoft Word document.

PDFs are still the most popular file type for saving resumes and cover letters.

How can I save a Microsoft Word resume or cover letter as a PDF?

Easy! Go to File > Save As > Browse in Microsoft Word. Then enter your name and select “Save as type” from the dropdown menu. There are various file types to choose from, including.doc,.docx,.pdf, and more.

Please keep in mind that you should not call your resume.txt. Though an unformatted Notepad file may be simple on the ATS or unusual for IT positions, recruiters go insane trying to figure it out.

Is it better to put your first name first or your last name first?

When naming your resume and cover letter files, use your first name first, followed by your last name.

Some hiring managers use a technique that sorts candidates based on their surname. You can’t, however, guess what their system is, therefore continue with the aforementioned.

Pro Tip: Are you preparing a resume in accordance with college guidelines? Most colleges, including CUNY, have their own protocols for resume and cover letter file names. Always start with your university’s webpage.

DON’T Follow Any of This Advice If…

If the job description states otherwise, all of the preceding advice is null and void.

While most job descriptions leave resume and cover letter titles up to you, a handful do have requirements.

Here’s an example from an online job posting:

At least two samples of your work from the following areas must be included in your application: sales letter, article, sales email, newsletter, or video script. Also, please name your resume as follows: Name Surname Sales Letter.pdf

Have you noticed that?

If you don’t name your resume and cover letter exactly as they request, you’ll come out as an applicant who can’t follow instructions.

And you’ll be kicked out of the applicant pool right away.

So—

Only use the suggestions in this article for cover letters and resumes where the job advertisement does not specify any specific requirements.

Key Takeaway

Here’s how you should name your resume and cover letter files:

Never use simply cover-letter.pdf or resume.docx as attachments.
Use your first and last name, followed by the job description, and finally the document type (e.g., resume, cover letter).
Use a dash or an underscore to separate terms in the cover letter title.
Unless otherwise instructed, save your resume as a PDF.
Above all, stick to the job description’s naming convention.