JOB APPLICATIONS: Why this simple mistake could cost you, your dream job!

Do you make lots of job applications but struggle to get interviews?

Recently I’ve had several clients come to me exhausted!

Burned out from submitting job application after job application and receiving close to zero interview offers.

You may have experienced this yourself — putting all that effort in and having nothing to show for it. Not to mention, the massive blow this can have to your confidence.

Well, the solution for these recent clients was simple and almost immediately they started to seeing more interview offers.

And it really is a simple fix!… It’s document type.

You see most people mistakenly think they should submit a PDF document for every job application.

So why is this wrong?

It’s all to do with the use of ATS by most recruiters and many companies.

ATS stands for:


It is the software used to capture submitted applications and automatically search on keywords to narrow down to the most relevant applicants. This is all done within the software before the employer ever sees anything.

So, while optimizing your application for appropriate keywords is vitally important. The first hurdle is actually making sure the ATS software can read your application and find the keywords. If you don’t do this, it won’t matter how good you are, you’ll be rejected by the system and the employer may never know about you.

This is why document type is an important consideration.

Most ATS software has trouble reading PDF documents and can reject an application made this way because it can’t read it — heart breaking I know!

The best format is actually a Word document.

So, if you think your application will be going through an ‘application tracking system’, or you’re not sure — submit your application in Word format.

job application online

A good rule of thumb is if you are uploading to a website then use a word document, and if you are emailing your application then use a PDF.

Why this difference?

Uploading to a website usually means the use of ATS software and you already know that you should always submit a word document to ensure the software can search your application.

However, if you are sending via email typically your application will be looked at by a person and PDF is easier for a person to look at and ensures if printed it prints properly for review.

OK, that covers when to use Word or PDF.

Doc vs Docx

There is one more important point regarding your Word document applications.

Make sure you submit your job applications in doc, not docx file format.

This is super important.

Some application tracking systems in use are a bit old, they may not be able to read the modern docx file format. So use the doc format to make sure your application is being considered.

You can easily do by this by saving a copy of your word document to the doc file format.

To help, I’ve done a quick and dirty 'how to' video on this.

Get Noticed or Be Beautiful!

word or pdf

Now, I must mention, I have had some clients that are reluctant to do this because they have beautifully formatted resumes and some of the formatting can be lost when saving to the less sophisticated doc format.

If this is you, you have two choices — you can either use a simpler format for your resume and get your dream job or submit a beautifully format resume and risk getting nothing.

I think when I put it like that , I know which option you will choose!

So if you are feeling the pain of silence from all your job applications this simple adjustment could be the very thing that opens doors to your dream job.

Thanks for reading and if you liked this post please share it.

Boost your chances of finding your dream job. Check out this post on why adding soft skills to your LinkedIn profile is a must and how it helps you stand out.

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