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How to name your cover letter and resume. The overlooked critical step.

name your resume and cover letter

The above blends into any environment. We want to stick out.  Think cleavage with stripper glitter

How you should name your cover letter and resume

Every job search starts with a resume so it is critical to pay attention to how you name your cover letter and resume.  To lessen the chance of your documents getting lost in a sea of resumes, name these documents in the following formats:

  1. .pdf:  This is the assumption that you are following the networking protocols and sending these docs directly to a person you are connected with.  (That being said if you are sending these documents blindly into a company, including a Word.doc. as well.  Just make sure you have a recent version of Microsoft Word.  Applicant Tracking Systems typically prefer word over PDF’s.) It is totally acceptable to send a cover letter and resume in BOTH formats.  
  2. Name the document with your last name and the position you are interested in.  EG:  HRNastyresumeHRManager.PDF and HRNastyCoverLetterHRManager.PDF

Include your name and the position you are applying for when saving your document.  Why would I take a moment to address something as mundane as this?  I was looking through a number of previously viewed resume for a specific candidate whose name I was not able to remember.  I had to open a number of documents before I found it.  My inbox has at least 15 resumes in it at any one time in various stages of inspection.  Of those 15, typically a dozen of these are saved as a word document and in a more unimpressive form, they are saved simply in some variation of “Resume.doc” or “smithresume.doc”.  Like a pair of Gap khaki’s and a white button-down shirt, it blends into any environment and in this moment, we are trying to make a statement.  

If you want me to pay attention then now is the time to show a little cleavage.  A dusting of stripper glitter won’t hurt either.  

If your documents happen to be the first one that I open in my random search of previously viewed documents, I feel lucky and am in a good mood.  If by chance your resume happens to be the 5th or the 10th one that I am opening in an effort to find Mrs. Right, then by now I am muttering under breath and getting pissed.  Each right-click of the mouse on a resume is a Dog click.  Mentally and emotionally, it is the equivalent of opening 7 resumes for every one opened.

  • “How lazy are these people to just save their document as resume.doc”.
  • “Do they really think they are the only person applying for this position?”
  • “Do these people actually want me to find their resume?”
  • “Do they think I am going to sift through all of these resumes to get to THEIRS?”
  • “Are they thinking they are the only Smith that is applying for this position????”

In the immortal words of the SNL’s Church Lady. . .  “Well aren’t you just special.”

I meet a lot of people and as interesting as everyone is, I don’t remember everyone’s name and face.  When I am looking through my inbox for your resume, it doesn’t make my job any easier to sift through a bunch of emails with attachments all labeled in the same manner.  As much as this isn’t about me, your document really is the proverbial needle in a haystack and isn’t making your job search go any smoother. 

Save your cover letter and resume as a PDF:

  • PDF’s look much cleaner than word documents.  Formatting will be as you intended regardless of the Operating System that is opening it up.    
  • PDF’s are usually virus free 
  • PDF’s won’t be modified accidentally.  Word documents can be modified.
  • Not all word documents open up well on Mac’s.  I may work in Microsoft’s backyard, but I work off a Mac and often times the formatting of Word documents is sketchy at best.  

When you name your resume and cover letter in the above fashion, it will be MUCH easier for your recruiter to identify in an inbox full of similarly named documents. 

See you at the after party,


nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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