You think you have your hands full with your resume, your cover letter, your application in general. So it may be crazy to realize that when a future employer downloads your files to read, you’re then competing not with other applicants’ resumes, etc., but with their resume filenames. It's true! The game starts as soon as you hit "send."

Here’s how to make sure you have a good filename for your resume.

1. Include Your Name

It seems silly titling a file with your name when it’s your file in the first place, but always title your job materials as though you were titling it from the recipient’s point of view. You leave out your name, and your file is likely to be lost in the shuffle. Plus, having your name directly in the file means your name is being seen, even when the file isn’t being accessed! Anytime the recipient opens that folder or looks for another file, there’s your name.

2. Keep It Snappy

You don’t want a run-on filename. Keep it under 24 characters and spaces—plus the .doc extension. Many computers only show the first 24 characters, so avoid getting elided or truncated on their screen.

3. Follow the Rules

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Letters and numbers are all fine, plus a few standard keyboard symbols (not / or .) You can (and should) capitalize where correct; that’s particularly useful if you have a long name and need to omit spaces to save space. You can also use dashes.

4. Include the Word "Resume"

Just as your name is important, so is the descriptor of the file itself. John-Smith-Resume won’t win any poetry awards, but it just might get the job done. Remember, you won’t get anywhere if you name your resume “Resume” without any other identifying features—like your name!

5. Leave Out the Version Numbers

Your future employer doesn’t need to know that this is Carol’s Resume version 4. A simple Carol Jane Resume.doc will do—and much more elegantly.

Bonus tip: Always save and convert your resume into PDF for each new job you apply to. That will ensure that your formatting remains the same on any machine. And makes it easier to archive which versions of your resume you sent to which employers when.

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