your cover letter is not on file

Press Enter to search

What to Name Your Cover Letter and Resume Files

It may seem trivial, but file names matter. Here, we discuss naming conventions and best practices for saving and uploading your cover letter and resume.

2 years ago   •   9 min read

You finally finished creating your cover letter and resume — and you’re excited to send it off to prospective employers.

But wait — how should you save your files? Do you send them off as word documents or as PDFs? And how should you name them? Do you include your full name? What about the date?

In this article, we’ll take a look at how to name and save cover letters and resume files. We’ll talk about naming conventions, discuss do's and don’ts, and offer other practical tips and tricks on how to upload your cover letter and resume so that your application is professional and easy to read. Let’s do this!

Naming a cover letter and resume file

Do's and don'ts for naming your resume and cover letter.

Here's what to include in your resume or cover letter file name:

  • Your full name, first and last
  • The words "resume" or "cover letter" (depending on which it is)
  • The name of the position you're applying for
  • Anything mentioned in the job ad — always follow instructions above all else

On the other hand, here's what not to include in your resume or cover letter file name:

  • Company name
  • Version number
  • Random strings of numbers of letters
  • Special characters

What to name your resume and cover letter

Here are some examples of good resume file names following the above conventions.

Resume file name examples:

JohnSmithResume.pdf JohnSmith_Resume_PositionTitle.pdf johnsmith_resume_salesmanager.pdf Resume_JohnSmith_JobID2346.pdf

Cover letter file name examples:

Jenny_Su_Cover_Letter.pdf Jenny_Su_CoverLetter_PositionTitle.pdf jennysu_accountant_coverletter.pdf UI_designer_00154_cover_letter_jenny_su.pdf

What not to name your resume and cover letter

Cover letter and resume file names like the following should be avoided:

“CompanyName_CoverLetter_v3.doc” “Resume06092021.docx” “CoverLetter_JohnSmith_CompanyName.pdf”,“John_Smith_December2019.doc”, and “John_Smith_Resume_Ver2.pdf”

How to name your resume and cover letter

Step-by-step guide to name your resume.

  • In either Word or Google Docs, click File -> Save As / Export to PDF
  • Type your full name.
  • Add the word 'Resume'.
  • Make sure you keep the '.pdf' file extension.
  • Remove all spaces, and replace them with underscores (e.g. Jane_Brooke) or sentence case (e.g. JaneBrook) if necessary.
  • Remove version numbers, dates or other irrelevant words.
  • Remove special characters.
  • Save your resume.

Step-by-step guide to name your cover letter

  • Add the word 'CoverLetter'.
  • Remove special characters, version numbers, dates or other irrelevant words that make your filename lengths unnecessarily long.
  • Save your cover letter.

How to save your cover letter and resume

Below is a step-by-step guide on how to save your cover letter and resume, in several file formats .

Microsoft Word

To save your cover letter or resume as a Word document, follow these steps:

  • Open up your cover letter or resume in Word
  • Under “File”, hit “Save As…”
  • A dialogue box will appear. Next to “Save As:” at the top, name your file.
  • Next to “File Format:”, located near the bottom of the screen, check to see that your file is saved as a Word document (this should be selected by default).
  • Once you have confirmed this, hit “Save”.

The dialogue box for saving your Word Document

Google Docs

Google Docs is convenient because it auto-saves your files. However, you’ll need to do a bit of work in order to share it with your recruiter or hiring manager. Here’s how:

  • Open your Google Doc. The filename is displayed in the top left-hand corner of the screen, next to the blue docs icon. Double click to edit.
  • Go to “File”, then click “Share”.
  • A dialogue box will appear. You can either:
  • Share with people directly, under “Share with people and groups”, if you know their email
  • Under “Get link”, hit “Copy link” for a sharing link, which you can send via your application

A screenshot of the dialogue box that appears when you click “Share” in Google Docs

Export as a PDF in Word

Here’s how to save your Word Document as a PDF:

  • Open up your cover letter or resume in Word.
  • Go to “File”, and hit “Save As…”
  • A dialogue box will appear. Name your cover letter or resume file in the field next to “Save As:” at the top.
  • Click on the field next to “File Format:”, located near the bottom of the screen, and choose “PDF”.
  • Once that has been selected, click “Export”.

Select “PDF” next to “File Format:” in the dialogue box that appears when you hit “Save As…”

Once you’ve chosen your resume file format and appropriate names for your cover letter and resume files, upload to the tool below — it’s a good way to check if your resume is readable by Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). It’ll also scan your resume and let you know if it checks all the boxes from a hiring manager’s perspective.

Other considerations

Here are some of the whys (and why nots) of resume file naming conventions.

Avoid generic resume file names

Avoid cover letters and resume files that aren’t clearly named — like those that are titled with a long string of numbers, or others that are just called “CoverLetter” or “Resume” with no other identifying information.

Poorly-named cover letters and resume files make it harder to tell at a glance what a file contains and who it belongs to, which means that you run the risk of having your cover letter and resume accidentally discarded and your application ignored for being incomplete.

Keep file names short

Long file names are difficult to read and hard to identify at a glance. Plus, file names (on both Mac and Windows) have a character limit of around 255 characters or so. Exceed that number, and you won’t even be able to save your file.

Leave out the date and version number

Generally, there’s no need to date your cover letter and resume — especially if you haven’t updated them for years. You don’t want an employer to know that you’re using the same old, basic cover letter specimen or resume template you’ve used since 2010.

The same principle applies to version numbers. You want your cover letter and resume to stand out on their own as final, definitive products, so leave out the “v3”. Remember, this is a job application, not a perpetually unfinished piece of software.

Don't use special characters

Use A-Z, 0-9, dashes, and underscores only. Ditch any special characters, symbols, or slashes. This includes accents. There's no need to get fancy with your file name — call it a “resume,” not a “résumé.”

Don’t touch the spacebar

Unfortunately, cover letter and resume file names with spaces in them will convert to “%20” symbols upon uploading to certain Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) — so a seemingly well-titled “John Smith Resume.pdf” will become "John%20Smith%20Resume.pdf," which is awkward and hard to read. If you need to space out words, dashes and underscores are your friends.

Don't worry about capitalization

You can write your file names in either title case, sentence case, or in all lowercase. Most employers don’t care either way, so it’s not a big deal — though title case (capitalizing the first letter of words) is arguably easier to read and looks more polished than the other two options.

Order doesn't matter

When combining your name, job title, ID, "resume," or anything else into a file name, it doesn't matter which order you list them in. For example, “JohnSmith_Resume.pdf” or “CoverLetter_JohnSmith.pdf” would both be fine.

Follow instructions on the job posting

Any specific instructions on the job listing override any tips in this article. If the job ad specifies a specific file type (e.g., .docx over .pdf) or a particular naming convention (e.g., include your middle initial), then always name and upload your cover letter and resume in line with those directions instead.

You should also try to add skills and keywords included in the job posting on your resume. Use the skills search tool below to find some more hard skills and keywords relevant to the job you’re applying for.

Resume file formats

So far, we’ve covered how to name a cover letter and resume file, but what file type should you save it as?

Use PDFs generated in Word or Google Docs

While you may be tempted to save it as a Word document for the sake of convenience and simplicity, you should try to avoid this when possible. Different versions of Word may mess with your cover letter and resume’s formatting options, like margin widths , fonts , or headers . This means that your nicely-formatted document may not look as neat on your recruiter’s screen — or, in the worst case scenario, may not even be readable at all.

To make sure your recruiter sees what you see, you should export both your cover letter and resume as PDFs instead. Saving your finished files as PDFs ensures that all text formatting will be preserved, no matter what application a recruiter or hiring manager uses to open your cover letter or resume files. If you need to make any changes to your cover letter or resume, just edit it in your word processor, export it as a PDF again, and write over the existing PDF.

Don't use PDFs generated in Photoshop or Canva

That said, make sure you generate your PDF of either your resume or cover letter in a word processor like Microsoft Word or Google Docs. Do not use an image editing software like Photoshop or Canva which will result in your resume not being readable by Applicant Tracking Systems .

Don't use other file formats

If you use a different word processing software — like Open Office, LibreOffice, or a plain text editor — that's fine, but you should convert your file to a more standard format before sending it in. Emailing your resume as a .txt, .odt, or .odf file risks a recruiter not being able to open it.

Frequently asked questions

Why do file names matter.

The short answer: It helps recruiters identify your resume more quickly. While the way you title your cover letter and resume’s file names won’t make or break your application, it’s still important to name them in a way that’s professional and informative.

In reality, it’s good practice simply because it makes recruiters’ lives easier. After all, yours is not the only application a hiring manager will read — they likely have hundreds more to sort through — and clear cover letter and resume file names will help them find and identify your application more quickly.

Should I put my first name or last name first?

Use the format First Name Last Name — for example, "JohnSmith_Resume.pdf" instead of "SmithJohn_Resume.pdf." Why? Mostly, it's just more intuitive. If you have a surname that could also be a given name — or vice versa — it also helps clarify which is which.

Should I use my middle name?

Not unless you're instructed to, or unless you usually go by that name. If you prefer to be called Kelly Sue, then by all means, use that name on your resume file (and in your resume itself). Otherwise, stick to your first name and last name.

Why shouldn't I include the company name?

The hiring manager already works at the company you’re applying to, so it doesn't add anything useful. Instead, it makes your file name unnecessarily long and difficult to read. Some people think that this is a good way to 'personalize' your application, but it isn't — it's the content of the documents that matter, not the file name.

Does it matter if I send my resume as a Word .doc file instead of a .pdf format?

Not really, no. If you’re not comfortable saving your file as a PDF, you can elect to send in your cover letter and resume as a Word document (or a Google Doc). Just be aware that you run the risk of formatting issues if you do so.

Do I combine my resume and cover letter or send them separately?

Unless specified, do not combine your resume and cover letter into one document. Upload them separately.

Get your resume right

Apart from getting your cover letter and resume’s file names and file types down, you’ll also need to make sure that the content within those documents — especially your resume — is well-written.

Resume Worded’s Score My Resume is an instant, AI-enabled resume scoring platform that audits your resume line by line, and gives you feedback on how to improve — helping you maximize your chances of landing a dream job.

Score My Resume analyzes your resume, looking for ways to optimize it even further

Spread the word

How to list freelance work on linkedin, how many jobs should you list on your resume, keep reading, recruiter’s advice: lying about gpa on your resume, is a 3-page resume too long, how to right-align dates for a professional looking resume (and why), subscribe to our newsletter.

Stay updated with Resume Worded by signing up for our newsletter.

🎉 Awesome! Now check your inbox and click the link to confirm your subscription.

Please enter a valid email address

Oops! There was an error sending the email, please try later

  • Search Search Please fill out this field.
  • Career Planning
  • Finding a Job
  • Cover Letters

How To Email a Resume and Cover Letter Attachment

your cover letter is not on file

Ashley Nicole DeLeon / The Balance

Depending on the job for which you're applying, you may need to email your resume and cover letter to the hiring manager. That's often the case with smaller employers. For other employers, you'll apply online or via a job board.

What's the easiest way to attach your resume and cover letter to an email message? When you're asked to send a resume or cover letter via email, follow these steps to ensure you have correctly attached your documents, written an email explaining what you are sending and why, added your signature to the email, and included a subject line that will get your message opened and read by the recipient.

Key Takeaways

  • Most employers request a Microsoft Word document or a PDF file of your resume. 
  • It's easy to save your documents in the file format requested by an employer.
  • When saving your documents, use your name as the file name.
  • Include a subject line that states who you are and what job you are applying for in the email message.

Check the Employer's Instructions

When you apply for jobs via email , the employer may require you to send your resume and cover letter as an attachment to an email message. It's important to send your attachments correctly, to include all the information you need so your email message is opened and read, and to let the receiver know how they can contact you to schedule an interview.

What's most important is to follow the employer's instructions and send exactly what they have asked for in the format it's requested. If you don't, your message may end up in a spam or trash folder.

Save Your Cover Letter and Resume

When sending your cover letter and resume attachments, the first step is to save your resume as a PDF or a Word document . The job posting should specify how to send the attachment. This way, the receiver will get a copy of the resume in the original format.

If there aren't instructions on how to send your documents, submit your resume as either a Microsoft Word document (.doc or .docx) or as a PDF file. These are the formats most commonly preferred by employers, and it's easy to save the documents and add them as attachments to your email message.

You can either save your cover letter in document format or write it directly in the email message.

Save as a Word Document

If you have word processing software other than Microsoft Word, save your resume as a Word (.doc or .docx) document. File > Save As , should be an option in your program.

Save a Google Doc as a Word Document

If you don't have Microsoft Word, you can save a Word (.docx) version of a Google Doc. Select File > Download and choose Word Document (.docx).

How to Save as a PDF

Whether the employer requests a PDF file or you opt to send a PDF, here's how to convert a document file.

To save a Word document as a PDF:

  • Select  File > Save As  in Microsoft Word.
  • Select  PDF  from the  Format  drop-down menu.

To save a Google Doc as a PDF:

  • Select  File > Download and choose  PDF Document .

Choose a Unique File Name

When saving your document, use your name as the file name , so the employer knows whose resume and cover letter it is, i.e., janedoeresume.doc and janedoecoverletter.doc.

Don't use "resume" as a file name, because it will be hard to differentiate your resume from those of the other applicants.

Include a Subject in the Email Message

The subject line is one of the most important parts of the email messages you send to apply for jobs. If you don't include one, your message may not even get opened. 

Your email message must include a subject line, and it should explain to the reader who you are and what job you are applying for. Be specific, so the recipient knows what he or she is receiving. Employers often hire for many positions at the same time, so include both your name and the job title.

Add a subject to the email message before you start writing it. That way, you won't forget to include it afterward.

Here's what to write:

Subject: Your Name - Job Title

If the employer requests additional information, like a job ID number, be sure to include that too.

Write an Email Message to Send With Your Resume

Once you have saved your resume and cover letter and they are ready to send, the next step is to write an email message to send with your documents.

First, open your email account. Then click on Message at the top left of the screen or click on File > New > Message .

You can either write your cover letter as part of the email message or send it as an attachment. Here's how:

Write Directly in the Email

You can either type your cover letter directly into the email message , copy and paste it from a word processing document, or if the company requests an attachment, send your cover letter and resume with the email message. So, your choices are to send a cover letter attachment or to use the email message as your cover letter.

If you are attaching a cover letter, your email message can be brief. Simply state that your resume and cover letter are attached. Offer to provide additional information and let the reader know how you can be contacted.

Be sure to follow the directions in the job posting for how to apply when sending your cover letter and resume or your application may not be considered.

Adding Your Signature To the Email

It is important to include an email signature with your contact information, so it's easy for hiring managers and recruiters to get in touch with you.

Include your full name, your email address, and your phone number in your email signature, so the hiring manager can see, at a glance, how to contact you. If you have a LinkedIn profile , include it in your signature. Do the same with any other social media accounts you use for career and business purposes.

Sample Email Signature

Jared Harshbarner jared.harshbarner@email.com 617-123-3790 linkedin.com/in/jared.harshbarner

How To Add Your Signature

To add your signature to your email message, click on File > Insert > Signature , if you have a signature saved that you use for job searching. If you haven't created an email signature, type your contact information (name, email address, phone, LinkedIn) at the bottom of your message.

Attach Your Resume and Cover Letter to an Email Message

Once your email message is ready to send, you need to attach your resume and cover letter to your message:

Click on Insert > Attach File. Your email client will display a list of files in the default file folder of your computer. If your resume and cover letter are stored in a different folder, click on the appropriate folder.

Click to select the file you want to add to your email message , and then click on Insert to attach the document to your email message. Take the time to carefully proofread the message before you send it.

Before you click Send , send the message to yourself to be sure all the attachments come through, and your email message is perfect.

Send a copy of the message to yourself, as well as to the company, so you have a copy for your records. Add yourself as a Bcc (blind carbon copy) by clicking Bcc and adding your email address.

Then click Send , and your cover letter and your resume will be on their way to the employer.

Review a Sample Email Message

Here's a sample email message sent with resume and cover letter attachments to apply for a job.

Subject: Sarah Smith – Museum Docent

Dear Ms. Cooper,

I’m writing to apply for the summer docent program at the Museum of Local History.

I have extensive docent experience, having volunteered at both the Harbor Museum and ABC Art, and have led tours both as a student leader and a member of the town historical society. In addition, I’m a lifelong town resident and an enthusiastic amateur historian.

I’ve attached my cover letter and resume for your review. I hope you’ll contact me at your convenience to discuss the program and arrange an interview. Thank you for your time.

Sarah Smith sarah.smith@email.com 555-555-1234 linkedin.com/in/sarahsmith

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is it better to send a word document or a pdf to apply for a job.

A PDF file retains the format of your resume and letter, so the recipient will see them as you wrote them when they open the file(s) you send. A Word document is easily read by the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that employers use to manage job applications. What's most important is to follow the company's application guidelines.

How can I be sure my documents are formatted correctly?

Send a test message, and email your resume and cover letter to yourself before you send it to the employer. That way, you'll know your documents are formatted and attached correctly.

ZipJob. “ Resume PDF or Word: The Best File Format in 2022 ."

Google. " Create, View, or Download a File ."

Microsoft. " Save or Convert to PDF or XPS in Office Desktop Apps ."

Adobe. " How to Convert a Google Doc to a PDF ."

By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.

IMAGES

  1. 10 Common Cover Letter Mistakes to Avoid • ALL DOCS

    your cover letter is not on file

  2. Cover Letter Formats & Formatting Advice That Will Win You the Job

    your cover letter is not on file

  3. Free Cover Letter

    your cover letter is not on file

  4. How To Write A Cover Letter Without Knowing The Recipient

    your cover letter is not on file

  5. How To Format a Cover Letter (With Outline and Examples)

    your cover letter is not on file

  6. Cover Letter Format: Proper Examples & Guide

    your cover letter is not on file

VIDEO

  1. Your Cover Letter Needs This! #jobsearchtips

  2. Write your cover letter with AI

  3. What not to write about in cover letters?

  4. Can employers detect AI cover letters?

  5. Is it OK if my cover letter is long?

  6. Chat GPT Cover Letters #podcast #interview

COMMENTS

  1. FAQs: Adding, Uploading, and Submitting Cover Letters

    Yes. Here’s how: Click Add next to Supporting documents at the bottom of the application review page. Select a reference letter, transcript, or portfolio from your device after clicking Upload file. Other files can still be added even if you've added a cover letter. Click Update to save the attached file (s).

  2. 15 Cover Letter Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

    Always make sure your cover letter includes the following information: Your contact information A professional salutation An introduction to the hiring manager Your most important qualifications A strong closing that motivates them to take action Your signature

  3. What to Name Your Cover Letter and Resume Files

    Open up your cover letter or resume in Word. Go to “File”, and hit “Save As…”. A dialogue box will appear. Name your cover letter or resume file in the field next to “Save As:” at the top. Click on the field next to “File Format:”, located near the bottom of the screen, and choose “PDF”. Once that has been selected, click ...

  4. How to Name Your Resume and Cover Letter Files

    6/23/2021 Justin Paget/Getty Images When you’re first creating a document—even an important one like your resume or cover letter—you might give it a placeholder file name while you’re working on it. So if you’re job searching, you probably have at least one document named something like “Resume2021” or “FrontEndEng coverletter.”

  5. How to Format Your Cover Letter in 2023

    File format: You can submit your cover letter within the body of an email or as a separate file. But if it’s a separate file you’re uploading to an online system, stick to docx or pdf only. ATs cannot reliably “read” other file types. File name: Always include your name and the phrase “cover letter,” and you can also include the ...

  6. How To Email a Resume and Cover Letter Attachment

    Once your email message is ready to send, you need to attach your resume and cover letter to your message: Click on Insert > Attach File. Your email client will display a list of files in the default file folder of your computer. If your resume and cover letter are stored in a different folder, click on the appropriate folder.