Sending a job application as a PDF

Use a professional format to make a professional impression by preparing and submitting your job application in PDF.

Searching for a new career challenge usually involves a great deal of work and effort. Researching interesting employers and job opportunities is not the only thing that costs a lot in terms of time, patience and nerves. The actual application process itself also demands a certain amount of commitment and perseverance. Sparsely worded job postings and varying requirements as to what needs to be submitted can make the job search difficult even for highly motivated candidates. Forewarned is forearmed. So if you want to avoid the stress involved in running the job-hunt gamut, you need to prepare yourself now for the challenges that lie ahead. The question of content is not the only critical issue. Even the format you choose for your job application package can have a major impact on how smoothly the process goes, and more importantly, on how successful your efforts turn out to be. Cover letters, transcripts, letters of recommendation, resumes, CVs and statements of employment must not only be correct in terms of the information they contain, but be presented in a form that is at once appealing and of high quality.

It’s never too early to sort out and prepare those stacks of unorganized certificates and records from your working past. And if you want to make a compelling first impression with hiring officers, then you’ve got to consider how to get them your application in a manner that is as secure, convenient and flawless as possible. The days of photocopies, envelopes and postage stamps are long gone. Now that you’ll be submitting your job application online or as an e-mail attachment, you need a format that meets today’s standards and requirements. Preparing and sending your application in Portable Document Format is one of the most-promising ways of getting that job interview.

PDF is the industry standard

Information-technology-based project organization and communication are used to coordinate the day-to-day work in almost every industry and branch of business today. In larger corporations, the information pertaining to plans, procedures and actions are almost exclusively recorded and transmitted electronically. E-mail is used as a binding means of communication at all levels in the corporate hierarchy. To make sure that this flood of data doesn’t lead to nowhere, and despite the enormous variety of software and formats that are available, certain standards have established themselves to ensure that electronic documents are received just the way the senders prepared them. Over the past two decades the Portable Document Format has become not only the mainstream solution for accomplishing this, but the de facto industry standard as well. Whether for in-house or outside consumption, documents now typically leave their respective departments as PDF files. You can avoid all the problems of readability, formatting and compatibility when digital documents and graphics are transmitted as PDFs – and human resources departments know it.

Sure to be well received – legibly and conveniently

Successful employment applications convey competence, effort and professionalism. A jumble of documents attached to your e-mail, a cover letter with a distorted format, and a mixture of unfamiliar file endings are sure ways to make your job application fizzle. That all-important first impression is made long before you’re invited for an interview. Getting an employer to double-click the attached documents means you’ve overcome the first hurdle in the application process. The best advice for anyone wanting to avoid making a frivolous impression or having to answer embarrassing and unnecessary follow-up questions is to turn to that format, which potential employers are most likely to appreciate and use every day.

Guidelines for submitting job applications by e-mail

The following points can help you successfully apply for a job by e-mail:

  1. The same rules apply regarding content and structure as for the old-fashioned kind of paper job applications.
  2. Although e-mail is a quick and easy means of communication, always try to avoid the impression that your e-mailed job application was prepared haphazardly or at the last minute.
  3. Write with a purpose and in a manner that is focused on the position for which you are applying. Avoid generalizations that could be used for any job vacancy.
  4. Always use a respectable e-mail address when forwarding your job application. You’re not likely to make a good impression with an amusing address like “”. If at all possible your e-mail address should contain your name and be from a reputable provider.
  5. Use a clear and concise subject line so that the employer knows what position you are applying for. If you are responding to a job posting that has a specific position number or designation, then use these in the subject line.
  6. Decide whether to insert your cover letter into the body of the e-mail or attach it as a PDF document. If the e-mail itself will act as the cover letter, then make sure that it is properly formatted (Tip: Send the e-mail to a friend to see if the formatting and presentation is correct.). If you are attaching the cover letter as an enclosure, then be sure to mention that in the e-mail. Keep your e-mail brief, to the point, and polite.
  7. Don’t get carried away with a large number of attachments, and make sure you organize them in groups (cover letter, CV or resume, letters and certificates).
  8. Give the files sensible names so that employers can easily and quickly find your certificates, letters and so forth.
  9. Organize the attachments the same way as for a classic job application: cover letter, resume or CV, transcripts and letters of reference. If you have more than one transcript or letter within a file, then place them in chronological order with the most-recent one first.
  10. Use PDF for all attachments. Avoid using a mix of different file formats; otherwise you run the risk of potential employers not being able to open them should they not have the same programs as you. And remember: don’t always use the most-current version of a given format. After all, human resources departments don’t update their software every day and may not have the latest versions.
  11. Pay attention to the overall size of your e-mail. Up to 5 MB is alright. Some companies, however, cull e-mails that are larger than 10 MB and your job application might not get where it needs to go.
  12. Even if you are using the kind of short form of employment application (often without certificates and letters of reference) that many employers now request be sent by e-mail, the rule still applies: Tailor the text of your application to the position you are applying for and avoid using standard and hollow phrases.