What should the names of your resume and cover letter be?
Numerous versions exist—
Additionally, selecting the incorrect name and file type may obliterate your chances of being invited for an interview.
In this manual, we’ll demonstrate:
- How to select names for your resume and cover letter that are effective.
- Guidelines for resume file names, including capitalization and hyphenation.
- There are more than 20 names for resumes and cover letters.
- Following the selection of appropriate names for your resume and cover letter files, decide the format to save your job application documents in.
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Make sure your CV and cover letter are in order before sending them to recruiters. View our guides here:
- Writing a Resume: A Step-by-Step Guide
- How to Write a Cover Letter That Gets Results
- Making a CV That Gets You an Interview
Okay, let’s start.
What to Name Your Resume and Cover Letter File?
What should my resume file be called?
If there’s one thing to keep in mind, it’s this:
Never save your resume as just resume.doc in the file name.
Our HR statistics analysis shows that each job ad submitted by an HR manager typically generates 250 responses. If you attach a resume.doc to your application, it will be lost right away.
Instead, pick one of these two possibilities:
1. Name-Job Title-Document
Before the recruiter ever opens your CV or cover letter, this one tells them everything they need to know. This is how it appears:
You can also switch up the job title and document:
The previous naming scheme is excellent, but it might become excessive.
Lose the job title if you’re Hubert Blaine Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorff and applying for the position of junior construction project manager.
This is how it appears:
Pro tip: Always put your name at the top of your resume and cover letter. In this manner, your documents will stay together (in an alphabetical order) when they are saved into a folder along with those of dozens of other applicants.
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Tips on Choosing the Perfect Resume File Name
Not only should you pay attention to how your resume and cover letter are named, but also how they are written.
In addition to capitalization and word separation, there are also unique characters and file formats.
That being said—
Here are some further tips for naming your cover letter and CV files:
Capitalize First Letters vs. Using Lowercase
Since I frequently work with URLs, I was a staunch advocate of using lowercase letters only. They share a lot in common with file names.
There is an unwritten rule that you must only use lowercase when working with URLs. This is due to the fact that operating systems other than Windows (like Unix) consider names in uppercase and lowercase as two whole different files.
I therefore conducted an online search to have a general understanding of the names of cover letter and resume file files.
All-lowercase file names for resumes and cover letters are perceived by many recruiters as “lazy” and “annoying.”
The conclusion is that you should utilize title case and capitalize only the first letter of each word to be safe.
And be sure to use the same name on your CV and cover letter.
Separating Words in a Cover Letter and Resume File Name
A resume saved as Dwayne Adams Resume.docx (with spaces) seems fine on your machine.
Many HR professionals will put your resume in an applicant tracking system or on their company’s server (ATS).
Spaces could therefore be replaced with other characters in such situation.
A resume file name converted to a URL looks like this:
So, if you want to separate words, use an underscore or hyphen.
Either one is OK, although using the underscore requires hitting Shift + hyphen rather than just hyphen. Just be aware that a hyphenated last name could be confusing.
Regardless matter the decision you choose, maintain consistency throughout all attached papers (resume, cover letter, list of references, portfolio of past work, etc.).
Pro Tip: Consider combining all the words and capitalizing only the initial letter of each word to eliminate the need for spaces. Stanford identifies this as a “camel case.” Although this resume file name style is simpler for people to read, it frequently slows down the ATS.
Special Characters in Resume & Cover Letter Names
Use only English alphabet letters (A-Z), digits (0–9), dashes, or underscores for naming resume files.
Apostrophes, commas, and accents in the phrase “résumé” cause chaos on both desktops and ATS software.
Pro tip: Avoid using dates, times, and version numbers in the names of your resume files. Only you have any meaning for these. It only causes uncertainty for hiring supervisors.
Saving Resume & Cover Letter Files in Microsoft Word Document, PDF or TXT?
You can typically submit and save your resume file as a PDF.
On an iPhone or a Chromebook, the recruiters may view PDF papers without any issues.
Prior to applying, always review the job description because the employer can have different preferences.
Consider these two instances:
Please send an email to jobs@********.com with the subject line “Web Content Assistant” and a PDF of your resume.
But it’s also possible that:
Please use the form below to submit your resume as a Microsoft Word document in order to apply for this position.
The most popular file type for saving resumes and cover letters is still PDF.
How to save a Word resume or cover letter as a PDF?
Easy! Navigate to File > Save As > Browse in Microsoft Word. Then select “Save as type” from the selection menu after selecting your name. Various file formats, including.doc,.docx,.pdf, are available.
Note: Avoid naming your resume file with.txt. Although an unformatted Notepad file could be simple for the applicant tracking system or peculiar for IT positions, recruiters have a hard time understanding it.
First Name First or Last Name First?
Use your first name first and your last name second when naming the files for your resume and cover letter.
Some recruiting managers use a technique that arranges applicants by surname. You can’t estimate what their system is, though, so stick with what was said above.
Pro tip: Do you follow the requirements for producing a CV for college? For resume and cover letter file names, most colleges have their own conventions, like this one from CUNY. Always start by visiting the webpage of your school.
DON’T Follow Any of This Advice If…
If the job description specifies otherwise, all of the foregoing advice is null and void.
Many job descriptions have guidelines in place, while the majority let you choose the names of your CV and cover letter.
Here is an illustration from a job posting I located online:
Two writing samples from one of the following categories must be included with your application: sales letter, article, sales email, newsletter, or video script. Please also give your resume the following name: Name Surname Sales Letter.pdf
You will come out as a candidate who can’t follow instructions if you don’t name your resume and cover letter according to their instructions.
And you’ll be automatically eliminated from the applicant pool.
Only use the tips in this article’s cover letter and resume examples when the job description is ambiguous.
Additionally, a strong cover letter that complements your CV will set you apart from other applicants. You can create one using this cover letter builder. Here’s what it might resemble:
The names of your cover letter and resume files should be as follows:
- Never just write a resume.docx or cover letter.pdf.
- your first and last name, the document type, and then, if applicable, the job description (e.g., resume, cover letter).
- Use a dash or an underscore to separate terms in the cover letter’s name.
- Unless otherwise instructed, save your résumé as a PDF.
- Above all else, adhere to the naming convention specified in the job description.
Do you have any inquiries regarding the names of resumes, cover letters, document formats, or file naming conventions? You may have learned an alternative way to name resume files. Thanks for reading; let’s talk in the comments section below.