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.

3 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, how to show bilingualism on your resume (with examples), oops what to do if there’s a mistake on your resume, getting the basics right: resume line spacing, 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

your cover letter is not on file

Thank you for the checklist! I realized I was making so many mistakes on my resume that I've now fixed. I'm much more confident in my resume now.

your cover letter is not on file

How to Name a Resume & Cover Letter File?

How to Name a Resume & Cover Letter File?

William Shakespeare famously wrote the line “What’s in a name?” in his play, Romeo and Juliet. Everything, it seems, when it comes to naming your resume and cover letter files. How you name your resume and cover letter speaks volumes to a potential recruiter.

Picture this : you are a recruiter yourself and have just received an application from someone who couldn’t seem to care enough to pay attention to details. Would you consider the application? Probably not. It’s just how the human mind works. Presentation is key when it comes to forming impressions. When you are applying for a job you want to make the best impression possible.

When it comes to your resume file name, think of it as your digital handshake.

In this guide, we’ll cover :

  • Importance of a Resume File Name
  • How to choose a Resume name and Cover Letter Name with Examples

Tips on Choosing the Perfect Resume File Name

How to save your resume & cover letter files, 10 common resume file name mistakes to avoid, the importance of a resume file name.

There are a few reasons why it is important to give your resume a specific file name.

  • It can help you stand out from the competition – If all of the resumes for a job are named “resume.doc” or “resume.pdf,” yours will stand out if you name it something different. Imagine just how many people make this common mistake leaving recruiters with the painful task of opening each file to figure out which resume belongs to whom. According to surveys, at least a third of the people name their files just resume.doc. Don’t fall in that category.
  • It makes it easier for employers to find your resume – If you have a specific file name for your resume, employers will be able to easily find it when they are conducting a job search. How you name your resume file will also affect how a recruiter will store and contact you about potential job opportunities.
  • It helps you keep track of your resumes – If you have multiple versions of your resume, it can be helpful to keep track of them by giving each one a specific file name. This will help you avoid accidentally sending the wrong resume to a potential employer. By naming your resume files something different, like “resume_johnsmith.doc” and “resume_johnsmith_nov2022.doc,” you’ll be able to easily keep track of which one is the most recent.

What to Name your Resume and Cover Letter File?

If you want your file to stay in the records, it is recommended you name your resume using your name. It is the best way to distinguish your document amidst the scores of applications that recruiters receive on a daily basis. Saving your document with your name allows a hiring manager to identify it at a glance.

What should I name my resume file?

1. YourName-Document

  • For example if your name is Robert Smith and resume can be named as – Robert-Smith-Resume.docx
  • For example if your name is Robert Smith and Cover letter can be named as – Robert-Smith-Cover-Letter.docx

Resume & Cover Letter File Name Example

2. YourName-JobTitle-Document

For example if your name is James Campbell and if you are applying for a Accounting Analyst position then you resume can be named as – James-Campbell-Accounting-Analyst-Resume.docx

Resume & Cover Letter File Name

It is recommended that you name your cover letter document the same way as well.

When you’re choosing a resume file name, you want to make sure that it’s professional and easy to remember. You also want to make sure that it’s different from the file names of other resumes that are being submitted for the same job.

Here are a few tips for choosing a resume file name:

1. Use your Full Name – One of the best ways to choose a resume file name is to use your full name. This will help the hiring manager remember your name and it will also show that you’re a professional.

2. Use your email address – Another way to choose a resume file name is to use your email address. This will also help the hiring manager remember your name and it will show that you’re a professional.

3. Use your job title – If you’re not sure what to name your resume file, you can use your job title. This will help the hiring manager know what position you’re applying for.

4. Use the company’s name – If you’re applying for a job at a specific company, you can use the company’s name in your resume file name. This will show the hiring manager that you’re interested in the company and that you’ve done your research.

5. Use the date – If you’re applying for a job that you’ve applied for before, you can use the date in your resume file name. This will help you keep track of which version of your resume you submitted to which company.

6. Use a file extension –  If you want to use something other than your name or your email address, you can use a file extension. A file extension is the three letters at the end of a file name, like “.doc” or “.pdf.” This will help the hiring manager know what type of file they’re looking at.

7. Separating Words in a Cover Letter and Resume File Name – Seperate the words in your file name using hyphens or underscores. Separate first letter of last word in cover letter and resume title with hyphen or underscore (_).

8. Capitalize First Letters vs. Using Lowercase : Do not capitalize the complete file name of your resume. When naming your cover letters and resumes, use title case file names ( capitalizing only the first letter of each word) to keep your formatting consistent across documents.

9. Avoid Special Characters in Resume & Cover Letter Names – Avoid using special characters and stick to English Alphabet letters (A-Z) and Numbers as they don’t work very well with most applicant tracking systems and desktops.

10. Avoid dates in a file name – Simply use your full name and specify whether it is a resume or cover letter when saving your document. It is the most clutter-free and professional approach.

Atlast, When you are proofreading your resume or cover letter don’t forget to also proofread your file name. You don’t want basic errors slipping in to ruin all the hard work you’ve put in to create the most compelling candidate profile for yourself. It pays to pay attention to detail.

A Word document or a PDF is the most widely accepted format when submitting a resume . Unless a recruiter or hiring manager specifies otherwise and requests for a different file format you need not worry.

Often an employer will tell you how they want your resume to be submitted. Try and stick to stipulations for a better shot at being considered for the position.

It is also a good idea to save your resume in both PDF and Word document formats so you have them ready to go depending on what is required at the time of applying.

For Word Document : Use Microsoft Word to create a new document and click on Save As to get a .doc version of your resume.

For PDF : Depending on the software you are using, you should be able to Print to Adobe PDF to save your resume as a PDF. In case your software does not support that, you could use one of the free PDF converter programs available online.

  • Don’t send in a resume file name that is simply called Resume.doc.
  • Recruiters and hiring managers receive several resumes each day. They simply do not have the time or patience to sift through 50 of them titled Resume.doc trying to figure which belongs to whom.
  • Name your resume file using your full name. There are bound to be several Rachels, Michaels, Divyas out there. You don’t want to leave your recruiter frustrated trying to figure out which resume file belongs to whom.
  • While you are at it, don’t forget to specify what the document actually is. For instance, simply naming it Rachel-Green.doc does not tell recruiters what the document is. And honestly, nobody has the patience to figure it out for themselves either. Instead, write Rachel Green-Resume.doc to lend clarity.
  • Avoid file names such as Rachel-Resume-Updated.doc. Recruiters sure hope you are sending them an updated version; there is no need to spell it out.
  • File names such as Rachel-Resume-Last.doc or Rachel-Resume-2020.doc are even worse than those that state they have been updated or revised. When you are sending in a resume file ensure you are sending the final version. Don’t send revised or last versions. Similarly, it is best if you leave out the year or month in a file name. Including it only makes it look dated.
  • Resumes that are named SRK-Resume.doc aren’t of much help to recruiters and hiring managers either. They really do not have the time to try and figure out who those initials belong to. Keep it simple and just write out your full name.
  • Do provide spacing or hyphens between words when creating a resume file name. Crunching it all together (RachelGreenResume.doc) makes it hard to read.
  • While naming your file AVOID all caps. For instance, a file name that says ARCH-Resume.doc could leave the recruiter wondering if ARCH is an acronym for something. Stick to Title Case or Sentence Case as is applicable to dispel all doubts.
  • Coming up with quirky file names is a big NO when you are on a job hunt. You don’t want to begin your job search on the wrong foot and you definitely want potential recruiters, hiring managers and employers to take you seriously.

Everyone wants to craft the ideal resume to maximize their chances of landing the perfect job. Since great attention is paid to the details in the content of a resume and cover letter, it is only imperative that the same amount of attention be paid when naming your resume and cover letter files. You don’t want to have a great resume that is let down by a badly named document. Your aim at every step of the way should be to maximize the chances of your job application being picked up so that you can turn on the charm and intelligence in the next step… the interview.

What should I save my resume as?

The ideal way to title your resume would be to use your full name (not just first or last name), followed by the document type (whether it is a resume or cover letter). Alternately, you could also name it using your full name, followed by job description, and then the document type.

Does resume file format matter? What format is best?

Yes, the resume file format does matter. It might often be the last thing we think of when crafting a resume and applying for a job. However, the format you choose does matter. Word documents and PDFs are the most widely accepted formats. These are the more commonly used formats by most people. You don’t want to be in a situation where your recruiter or hiring manager cannot access your resume due to an incorrect file format.

How do I organize resume files?

If this is for your personal reference then it is best to name your resume file using dates. This will help you identify the latest version of your resume. You could also organize your resume files using company names in the file name to help you figure out which job posting you had used that resume version for.

Just remember to omit the date and company name when sending the resume to a recruiter or hiring manager.

Should I put my resume in a folder?

When you arrive for an interview be sure to carry your resume in a folder to keep it crisp and in order. You don’t want to hand out a resume that has folds, tears or stains. It’s just not professional. Ideally, your folder should also have slots to house other important documents such as diplomas, mark sheets, and certificates, should a prospective employer want to see them during the course of the interview.

Related Resume & Cover Letter Articles

Standard Resume Margins

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

How to Email a Resume and Cover Letter Attachment

Sample Email for a Job Application With 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 attach your resume and cover letter to an email as you reach out to the hiring manager. That's often the case with smaller employers. For other employers, you'll generally apply online or via a job board, but you'll still want to know how to properly attach a resume and cover letter in case you're coordinating any interviews via email.

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. You'll also want to explain what you are sending and why, add your signature to the email, and include 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, include all the information you need so your email message is opened and read, and 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. Select File , then Save As .

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

To save a Google Doc as a PDF:

  • Select  File then 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 or janedoecoverletter.doc.

Don't simply 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 617-123-3790

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 555-555-1234

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 sent. 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. “ Should You Send Your Resume as a PDF or Word Doc? "

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 ."

  • Cover Letter Tips

Should You Combine Your Cover Letter and Resume into One Document?

Ken Chase profile pic

The internet has impacted virtually every area of life, including the job search process. Gone are the days when a job seeker would simply hand an employer a cover letter and resume in paper form. Today, more companies than ever accept digital copies of those job search documents.

In fact, many companies and employers now only accept emailed digital cover letters and resumes so they can make use of applicant tracking systems (ATS). Unfortunately, there’s been little effort to standardize submission processes, and that can make it a little confusing for the average job seeker.

For example, how should you submit your emailed resume and cover letter? Should you send them separately or combine them into one document? In this post, we’ll examine both options and offer the advice you need to make the best decision.

What’s the difference between a cover letter and resume?

Before you decide whether to combine your cover letter and resume into one document, it is helpful to make sure that you fully understand each of these important tools. The fact is that each of these documents has its own role to play in the job search process, and they have some major differences:

Each of these documents serves a distinct purpose in the job search process. Resumes are designed to provide an employer with an easy way to quickly assess your qualifications. The main purpose of a cover letter is to help the employer understand your motivations, goals, and personality. Both are important documents, but they are not interchangeable.

Your cover letter should be a targeted document that focuses on your qualifications for a specific job role. It should contain information about why you are the best candidate for the position and what you hope to achieve for the employer if you are hired. Your resume is more of a marketing tool that highlights your skills, relevant work experience , and educational qualifications in an easily digested summarized format.

Structure and format

These two documents also have dramatically different structures and formats . Your resume will be divided into specific sections for easier consumption and will include bullet point lists of relevant skills and achievements. Cover letters look more like any other written communication, conveying your message in full sentences and paragraphs.

Cover letter and resume: to combine or not to combine?

Let’s get right to the main question here: should you combine your cover letter and resume into one document? As a general rule, you should try to avoid it wherever possible. Since resumes and cover letters serve two very different roles in the job search process, they should be treated as separate documents. The only time you should even consider combining these two documents is when the company has instructed you to do so.

Review the instructions

Whenever possible, it’s a good idea to get the submission guidelines for the position straight from the source. That means asking the company’s hiring manager how your resume and cover letter should be sent. If there are clear instructions, it’s important to follow them to the letter to maximize your chances of receiving the right type of attention. On those rare occasions when a company wants a combined document, the job posting will usually include that instruction.

Why you should not combine these two documents

In most instances, however, you will discover that the instructions are vague. Perhaps the only instruction is that your resume must be emailed. If that’s the case, then you should always choose to leave these two documents as separate files. There are several very good reasons to do so:

If you include these two tools in one document, applicant tracking systems may reject it. That can happen if the ATS mistakes your cover letter for a resume and assesses it based on its rules for resume approval.

Hiring managers often want to go directly to your resume to review your qualifications. If your cover letter is part of that document, it could be a distraction that frustrates your reader.

Your cover letter and resume serve different purposes. Keeping them separate helps to ensure that each document receives the attention it deserves.

What if employers request that your cover letter and resume be combined?

As we noted above, there may be times when a specific employer requests that a resume and cover letter be sent as one document. Obviously, that request should be honored if you want to be considered for an interview. The important thing then is to ensure that you combine them properly. The following tips can help:

Decide which document you want the employer to see first

Since the cover letter serves as your introduction, there is a case to be made for putting it in the front of the resume. If you want to make sure that the ATS scores your resume properly, however, you may want to put the resume at the beginning of the document. That can also help hiring managers quickly access your qualifications.

Create a new document

Make sure that you create an entirely new document for your combined file. That will enable you to keep them separate for other companies and submissions. Then copy and paste your resume and cover letter into this new document. Be sure to save the file with an appropriate file name. For example: JohnSmithResumeCoverLetter.docx or JohnSmithResumeCoverLetter.pdf.

Use proper formatting

When you paste each document into your combined file, make sure that you retain the original formatting. Also, be sure to include a page break at the end of the first document so that the next document begins on a fresh page.

Submit the combined file

Once you have your new combined file, submit it to the company. If the online job posting includes submission instructions, follow them to the letter. Otherwise, simply send it to the appropriate email address.

How to email your cover letter and resume

When emailing your cover letter and resume, either include the cover letter as an attachment or copy and paste its text into the email message. Don’t do both. 

It is generally recommended that you submit both the resume and cover letter as file attachments rather than having any part of them in the body of your email message. What you can include in the email text is confirmation that you have attached the resume and cover letter files.

Of course, you also need to decide whether you want to submit a Word document or a PDF file. Once again, review the job board instructions to see what the company is requesting. If there is no specific option listed, then the best thing to do is to submit each document in a Word file. 

Sample cover letter and resume template

Below, you will find a resume and cover letter template that you can use to ensure that your job search documents contain the information that employers want to see. You can use these templates to guide you as you create your own cover letter and resume:

Resume template

[Your first and last name]

[Your Phone number]

[Your Email address]

Professional Summary

[No more than three sentences highlighting your qualifications, experience, and achievements.]

Core Competencies

[Bullet point list of your relevant skills. Use multiple columns to list 12-15 top skills ]

Employment History

[Company name], [city], [state] | [Employment dates]

[Job title]

Job responsibility and achievement

[Repeat employment history for additional jobs, in reverse chronological order]

[Name of school], [city], [state]

[Degree], [major]

[Date you graduated] It should be noted that you don’t have to include education dates if you graduated more than one year ago. 


[Name of certification or license, organization providing it, and relevant dates]

Awards and Achievements

[Award, honor, achievement]

Cover letter template

[Your city and state]

[Recipient's first and last name]

[Company name]

[Company address]

Dear [Recipient's name],

My name is [your name] and I am interested in discussing the open [position name] position at your company. I have [length of experience] experience as a [your profession] and am confident that I can provide a great deal of value for your company if hired.

I have recently been employed at [relevant employer name], where I was responsible for [cite job duties using keywords that match the skills needed in the open position]. Prior to that, I [provide examples of job duties that show your qualifications to fill the company’s open job]. I would love to have the opportunity to use these skills as part of your team.

I have included my resume with this letter so that you can evaluate my qualifications and experience at your leisure. I appreciate your consideration and look forward to having the opportunity to discuss the position with you in greater detail.


[Your name]

You should choose to send your cover letter and resume as separate documents, unless the company has instructed you to combine them into a single file. More importantly, make sure that you get those critical job search tools into the right hands so that you can increase your chances of landing an interview!

Want to know whether your resume has what it takes to capture a hiring manager’s interest? Get a free resume review from our team of experts today!

Recommended Reading:

How to Tailor Your Resume to Different Positions (Examples)

How long should a resume be in 2023?

How to Get Your Resume Past the ATS Scans

Ken Chase, Freelance Writer

During Ken's two decades as a freelance writer, he has covered everything from banking and fintech to business management and the entertainment industry. His true passion, however, has always been focused on helping others achieve their career goals with timely job search and interview advice or the occasional resume consultation. When he's not working, Ken can usually be found adventuring with family and friends or playing fetch with his demanding German Shepherd. Read more resume advice from Ken on  ZipJob’s blog .

Illustration of a marked up resume

Is your resume working?

Find out with a free review from ZipJob.

Get a free resume review today

Our experts will review your resume’s grammar, layout, and ability to pass ATS — all free and delivered straight to your inbox.


This site uses cookies and related technologies for site operation, and analytics as described in our   Privacy Policy. You may choose to consent to our use of these technologies, reject non-essential technologies, or further manage your preferences.


  1. Cv With Cover Letter Template

    your cover letter is not on file

  2. What is a Cover Letter? Definition, Structure, Purpose, Types & Meaning

    your cover letter is not on file

  3. How to Address a Cover Letter—20+ Examples & 3 Easy Steps

    your cover letter is not on file

  4. How to Close a Cover Letter (With Examples)

    your cover letter is not on file

  5. how to write a cover letter template

    your cover letter is not on file

  6. Cover Letter Template Australia 2017 , #australia #cover #

    your cover letter is not on file



  2. Customize Your Cover Letter!

  3. Do you still need the cover letter for job applications?

  4. How to write an upwork cover letter that stands out

  5. Cover Letter Tips: Top 3 Mistakes To Avoid 🤦‍♀️ #shorts

  6. Cover Letter Killer!


  1. 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 ...

  2. How to Name Resume and Cover Letter Files

    Consider these three elements when naming your resume or cover letter file: 1. Start the file name with your full first and last name. Use your professional name—especially if you go by a nickname while away from the office or around coworkers who know you well—to make a positive first impression. 2. Follow your name with a summary of the ...

  3. What to Name a Resume File & Cover Letter (+Examples)

    Key Takeaway. Here's how to name your resume files and cover letter files: Never write only cover-letter.pdf or resume.docx. Use your first and last name, then, optionally, the job description, and then the document type (e.g., resume, cover letter). Separate words in the cover letter name with either a dash or an underscore.

  4. How to Name Your Resume and Cover Letter Files

    Make sure your file name is descriptive and unique to you. You should always include your first and last name as well as what the file is, Smith says—for example, "Joseph_Washington_Resume.". Format your file name so it's easy to read. Use capital letters to begin words—especially your first and last name. And separate each word.

  5. How To Combine a Cover Letter and Resume Into One Document

    3. Open a new document. To begin combining your resume and cover letter into a single document, start a new file on your computer in your preferred application or platform. Choose a file name that's professional and use your full name without any numbers to differentiate your application from the candidate pool.

  6. What to Name a Resume & Cover Letter File with Examples & Tips?

    For example if your name is Robert Smith and Cover letter can be named as - Robert-Smith-Cover-Letter.docx. 2. YourName-JobTitle-Document. For example if your name is James Campbell and if you are applying for a Accounting Analyst position then you resume can be named as - James-Campbell-Accounting-Analyst-Resume.docx.

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

    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). This takes you back to your ...

  8. Cover Letter Title: How to Name Your File [Examples]

    1. Use your name . Adding your name is the easiest way to make sure that your cover letter doesn't get confused with someone else's. It also means that the hiring manager doesn't need to actually open the cover letter file to see whose it is. The best option is to use your whole name.

  9. How To Send an Email Cover Letter (With Steps, Tips and Example)

    Attach your cover letter to the email. To attach your cover letter, create a new email message in your email program and choose the paperclip icon. Browse through the files on your computer to find your cover letter and click to attach it to the email. 7. Include a brief email message.

  10. How to Format a Cover Letter: Examples & Tips for 2024

    Set the font size to 11 or 12 pt. Make sure you add a blank line between paragraphs. Align the paragraphs to the left—justifying looks good in newspapers, not in business letters. Expert Hint: Save your cover letter as a PDF file so that it looks the same on all devices.

  11. Cover Letter Do's and Don'ts: 10 Expert Writing Tips

    Here's what to include in a cover letter to make your application stand out: Your name and contact information. The hiring manager's name and contact info. A salutation. Your relevant achievements. A mention of something you know about the company. Why you are the best candidate for the position. An impressive ending.

  12. How to Format Your Cover Letter in 2023

    Papadopoulos suggests decreasing the header space first. Alignment: All your text should be left aligned and there's no need to indent every paragraph. Line spacing: Single space your cover letter (1.15 spacing works if it looks too cramped). Include an extra line between each section and paragraph.

  13. How to Format a Cover Letter in 2024

    Here's a breakdown of how a cover letter should be structured: 1. Add your name and contact information to the header. At the top of your cover letter, include the following information: Name: Your full name should be the focal point of your cover letter's header, so use a large font size and bold text. Phone number.

  14. 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.

  15. Cover Letter Versus Email: Which Is Better?

    This is best answered with, "It depends"—for both the cover letter and the accompanying email. (I know, just doing my part to make things simple here.) In all seriousness, it's best to evaluate the tone and style of the organization you're attempting to join, and then guess which salutation would be most would the appropriate and ...

  16. What should you name your cover letter file?

    You should name your cover letter file "First-Name-Last-Name-Target-Job-Title-Cover-Letter.". For example, "John-Doe-Assistant-Manager-Cover-Letter.pdf" would be a good cover letter file name. If you have already have a resume name, make sure your cover letter file name matches. You want your cover letter to be easy for a busy hiring ...

  17. Should You Combine Your Cover Letter and Resume into One Document

    Create a new document. Make sure that you create an entirely new document for your combined file. That will enable you to keep them separate for other companies and submissions. Then copy and paste your resume and cover letter into this new document. Be sure to save the file with an appropriate file name.

  18. 15 Cover Letter Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

    Here are 15 things to avoid when writing a cover letter with tips and suggestions of what you can do instead: Not following instructions. Using the wrong format. Discussing why you are looking for a new position. Using the same cover letter for every application.

  19. How to Email Your Resume and Cover Letter: Formats and File Types

    2 Other file types. Besides PDF and Word, there are other file types that you may encounter or consider for your resume and cover letter, such as HTML, RTF, TXT, or DOCX. HTML files are web-based ...

  20. Are Cover Letters Necessary? To Send or Not To Send Your Cover Letter

    Here are the reasons why cover letters are necessary: 1. Most job openings require a cover letter. When recruiters ask, they shall receive. When it is listed under the required documents for application, then you should definitely provide one. 2. Writing a cover letter shows your effort & motivation for the job.

  21. How to Write a Cover Letter With No Experience + Examples

    1. Check the company and job description. The first step in crafting a well-written cover letter is to research the company where you want to work. Carefully review what the organization shares about its values and culture on social media or its website to understand how you can relate to it in your letter.

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

    If you're providing a hard copy of your cover letter, handwrite your signature and also include your full typed name. Download Cover Letter Outline Template. To upload the template into Google Docs, go to File > Open > and select the correct downloaded file. Related: Creating the Perfect Cover Letter (With Template and Example)

  23. How to Write a Cover Letter When You're Changing Careers (Sample + Tips

    Let's review four key pieces of information you can weave into your career change cover letter. 1. Clarify your career change context. Explaining why you're interested in changing careers and how the role you're applying to fits within your larger career aspirations can preemptively contextualize your story.

  24. Free Cover Letter Template for Your Resume (Copy & Paste)

    Pantheon. The "Pantheon" cover letter template's bold header projects confidence, making it ideal for executives. 2024. Designed for the modern job seeker, our "2024" cover letter template is perfect for people in any industry. Classic. "The Classic" cover letter template is clean, traditional, and the perfect format to start off your application.