Starting a New Job

Complete Guide: How to Name a Resume File and Cover Letter

October 26, 2021

A resume is often the first impression you give to a prospective employer, and it's vital to make that impression a good one. The file name you give to your resume and cover letter is essential because it can encourage a hiring manager to open your document and organize it more easily. Understanding how to name your resume and cover letter can improve your application process. In this article, we discuss how to name a resume file so they best represent you to employers, and share helpful tips to consider during your job search.

Related: Writing a Cover Letter (With Tips and Examples)

How to name a resume file and cover letter

If you're wondering how to name a resume file and cover letter, there are several things to keep in mind. Hiring managers receive many types of job applications every day. If you name your file resume.doc or coverletter.doc, your files may look generic. Many hiring managers sometimes ignore these types of files because they assume they are generic templates rather than custom documents that stand out and highlight your skills and abilities. Instead, it's better to opt for one of these file names:

Name-Document

Name your resume and cover letter files based on your first and last name. For example, Jane-Resume and Jagmeet-Cover-Letter would both be appropriate file names for a job application. You may not want to include the job title since you may include that information in the body of the resume and cover letter.

Related: What To Put in a Resume

Name-Job Title-Document

If you decide to include the job title, you must include the word document at the end of the file name. For example, Jane-Administrative Assistant Resume.doc would be suitable for a candidate seeking that job title. This way, your file may stand out among the many others and hiring managers know whose documents they're reviewing.

Formatting your resume or cover letter

Naming your resume and cover letter files is only part of the process. The next step is to make sure that your files have the correct formatting. Here are some helpful tips to consider when preparing to send a digital copy of your resume:

Follow capitalization

Most people use lowercase consistently when naming files. This is because URLs use lowercase letters, and computers ignore uppercase letters when sorting files. Capitalizing the first letter of each word when naming your resume or cover letter files, like Jane-Resume or Jagmeet-Cover-Letter, can make your file more visible. Sticking to title case helps employers identify your files without spending time reading the whole name. Follow this formatting when naming both your resume and cover letter file, and aim to keep them both consistent.

Use the right file extensions

In most cases, candidates use file extensions like .doc, .txt or .pdf when naming their files. A PDF file is always a safe bet for a resume because PDF files retain the original document's formatting. Check the job description to see if they prefer differently formatted resumes or cover letters so you can follow their specifications and increase your chance of making the shortlist for interviews.

Always use an underscore or hyphen to separate words

You can use spaces between words, but this is not recommended. When a hiring manager downloads your file, their system might replace these spaces with other characters, such as the percentage symbol, which can affect readability. This makes it difficult for them to read your file. It's better to use an underscore or hyphen to separate words, such as Jane_Resume. Remember that whichever option you're using, use the underscore or hyphen consistently throughout the file naming of both your resume and cover letter. Always choose simple spacing instead of special characters like #, $, or %.

Related: How to Email a Resume

Use your first name first

Naming your resume or cover letter file using the first name before the last name is a time-tested technique that hiring managers have seen before. For example, Jane Doe Resume is better than Doe Jane Resume. This way, hiring managers can know your name without spending extra time figuring out your file.

Choose short file names

Your resume or cover letter file name doesn't need to be long. Name your files using the most relevant keywords so hiring managers can identify them quickly when looking for specific resumes. This also helps them find your file faster. Include your first and last name in the file names and the most relevant keywords.

Tips to remember while naming files

here are some tips to consider when naming your resume or cover letter file:

  • Include abbreviations. It's always better to use standard job titles, like administrative assistant or customer service representative, instead of using abbreviations. Abbreviations such as adcoms and cust serv rep may confuse hiring managers who don't know what you mean.
  • Use letters. Digits like 1, 2, and 3 can be easily mistaken for letters, so omitting them from your file name conventions keeps all your files easier to read, and easier to read for potential employers as well.
  • Use your full name instead of prefixes or suffixes. Avoid using prefixes and suffixes such as Mr., Mrs., or Jr. in your file name because these may make your file look odd. Instead, use your full name in the file name, such as Jamie-Moran.pdf
  • Avoid using all caps. Your resume or cover letter file name benefit from using lowercase or title case. Using all caps, like JANE-DOE-RESUME, may be mistaken as spam by the hiring manager.
  • Include the city and state when using a suffix. If you include a suffix in your file name such as -London, add the city and province to clarify that this is an attachment for a job located in London, Ontario.
  • Use the same name for both documents. When sending both a resume or cover letter, it's best to use the same file name. This makes it easier for the hiring manager to find the files when looking through their email.

Related: The Best Fonts for Your Resume

Always read the job description

Always check the job description before writing your resume or cover letter to see what they are looking for. There is a good chance that the description includes instructions on the formatting and structure of a resume, such as how many pages and what kind of font to use. If the company requires specific formats, stick to them. If the job description doesn't include any instructions, you can stick to using the standard file extensions, using underscores or hyphens when naming your files, and inserting your name first in the file name. For example, a job description might say:

Send your application a maximum of two pages, with a font size of 12 and margins of at least one inch. U**se the same format in your resume, such as Times New Roman and 2-point spacing. Please send the document in the following format: Name_Surname_Resume.doc.

FAQs about how to name a resume file

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about file naming conventions when sending your resume with a job application:

What is the difference between a resume and a cover letter?

A resume is a list of your previous jobs and education, while a cover letter contains information about why you're interested in the job and what makes you the best candidate for the role. Cover letters are typically one page long, and tell the hiring manager more about your personality, while highlighting your most relevant skills and accomplishments. It's a good idea to understand the difference between these two documents so you can draft each one according to its requirements.

Do I need a cover letter for my resume?

Most employers request a cover letter when applying for jobs. It's a formal letter that describes why you're interested in the job and what skills you offer. It's not necessary for your resume to be in the same file as the cover letter, it's best to send these two documents as two separate files. Ensure you follow the same file format as your resume and review any specific requirements before sending, but your cover letter can typically follow the format: FirstName_LastName_CoverLetter.

How do I organize my resume and cover letter?

It's beneficial to organize your resume into sections. Each section includes a short summary of your experience displayed in a table format, with the most relevant experience presented first. For example, if you worked at five different companies throughout your career, you would want to list your most recent position on top. Organize your cover letter into short paragraphs that fit on one page and are concise and easy to read.

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