Is WordPerfect a big obstacle when job hunting?
January 26, 2008 12:24 PM   Subscribe

Should I pay for MS Word just to make my job hunt easier? Although I have MS Word at work, at home I only have WordPerfect 12 and I don't want to have something round filed because a recruiter didn't like the format. There appears to be a free trial version of Word. Would I be able to use that for a resume?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (31 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Using Open Office, I save documents in .doc format instead of .odt when I am sending it to professors and such. I intend to do the same when applying for jobs in the near future. Open Office is free.
posted by nursegracer at 12:32 PM on January 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

Instead of using Word, you could use the open source office suite Open Office. Writer is very similar to Word and also has many templates you can find just by doing a simple Google search.
posted by treesarefree at 12:34 PM on January 26, 2008

Or AbiWord which is a smaller program and smaller download.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:35 PM on January 26, 2008

Ahhh recruiters. They are a special breed aren't they?

There are free and open alternatives out there (and I'm sure someone will chime in with suggestions,) but I would still worry about formating and how your document created in a third party product (or converted in some other way) would appear to the not-so-bright HR person on the other end when they open it in Word.

MS Office Home/Student is just over $100 online and you may even find it cheaper if you shop around. So, it's not a huge investment in the long run.

Keep in mind that many people are still using Office 2003, so you'll need to save any Office 2007 documents in 2003 compatibility mode.

Personally I like PDF, but in general I think most people are looking for Word .doc files...
posted by wfrgms at 12:39 PM on January 26, 2008

This is my experience with OpenOffice and people that I've recommended it to: if you save an OpenOffice document as a .doc and then open it in Word, it won't always look exactly the same, especially if you're using alot of fancy formatting like the complicated tables that my resume uses. You can save it as a .pdf using a free converter, but sometimes people get freaked out if you send them anything other than a Word document. But you could just give OpenOffice a shot, see if it's any good for what you need it for, and then if not, go ahead and invest in Word. Personally I would just go with Word cause it will make your life easier in the long run.
posted by amethysts at 12:46 PM on January 26, 2008

Your local public library almost certainly has computers with Word that you can use.
posted by box at 12:47 PM on January 26, 2008

Use openoffice, and then save it as a pdf file. PDFs are designed to look exactly the same on any computer you open them on. Word documents are not.
posted by chrisamiller at 12:58 PM on January 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

I should clarify - pdfs are designed to look the same no matter what program you open them in. Word documents are not.
posted by chrisamiller at 12:59 PM on January 26, 2008

What chrismiller said. It's free, it's easy and there are no formatting or font discrepancies once it's saved as a PDF.
posted by willmize at 1:00 PM on January 26, 2008

Can you email yourself a copy of the wordperfect resume to work and reformat it as MS word and then email that back to yourself again as an attachment? I did this and always had that copy in my web based (Yahoo) email account to email to people wanting it. The advantage of that is your web based email will be there and you can use it to email to anyone else.
posted by 45moore45 at 1:02 PM on January 26, 2008

I have been given CVs in rich text format occasionally and never thought any less of the candidates. In case you don't know you probably have a program called WordPad you could use to make a decent looking RTF document which will open in Word just fine.
posted by Dan Brilliant at 1:03 PM on January 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

Google Docs will export your document as a Word file or a PDF, and you don't have to install any programs to use it.
posted by richrad at 1:14 PM on January 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

2nding what richrad said - I was actually going to recommend emailing your resume as a PDF so the formatting remains the way you like it.
posted by lunasol at 1:22 PM on January 26, 2008

Why not email multiple formats, with a polite request to please view the .pdf if possible, because that way you are ensured that they are seeing the same thing you intend them to see.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 1:33 PM on January 26, 2008

Saving as .doc from OpenOffice results in a huge file that will be rejected from some recruiters' email and websites. Found that out the hard way while unemployed last year. Eventually got a version of Word to use - otherwise would have had to keep going to the public library to type resumes to save to disk or email to myself with web-based email.
posted by dilettante at 1:38 PM on January 26, 2008

Use OpenOffice, and save as a PDF!

I'm not an employer, but if I were, PDF would by my preferred resume (CV) file format.
posted by BeaverTerror at 1:49 PM on January 26, 2008

Don't forget to keep to generally available fonts so that Strange Things don't happen to the formatting when opened on the recipient's machine.
posted by ceri richard at 1:52 PM on January 26, 2008

Where are you applying? Lots of big corporations use automatic candidate-tracking systems that just take your oh-so-lovingly formatted .doc file, parse through it for key bits of information (name, address, education, etc.) and then dump it all into a database so that recruiters can see it in a standard format. Less sophisticated sites often just have you copy/paste the text into an edit box, which drops all the formatting anyway.

In my most recent job hunt, I ended up using a plain-text version of my resume for almost all the online submissions, because it was the easiest to copy/paste without having to reformat heavily.

The only thing I used my 'formatted' resume for was to produce printed copies to hand out at job fairs and occasionally email. But I could have just as easily emailed a PDF, or gone with less formatting and sent an RTF.

So, bottom line, I really don't think you have to buy Word. Having clear formatting is important, but I think a lot of people put much more significance on details like formatting and paper type, when most recruiters are going to zoom right in on the content.

Get yourself Open Office and don't go nuts with fine-tuned formatting and I think you'll be fine.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:22 PM on January 26, 2008

Uh... clarification:

I mean, I think a lot of people put much more significance on details like formatting and paper type than they should, when most recruiters are going to zoom right in on the content.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:23 PM on January 26, 2008

Word is pretty standard and when it comes to something important like your resume, I probably wouldnt skimp.

That said, since you mention having Word at work, why not write your resume using OpenOffice and then try opening it at work to see how it looks, making some formatting adjustments if necessary then saving it from Word?
posted by vacapinta at 2:32 PM on January 26, 2008

Ohhh warning warning about OpenOffice! My cousin used this on her Mac at my recommendation after her trial version of Word expired. Actually she used NeoOffice, which is a Mac port of OpenOffice. Everything went fine, the document looked just like it should have in Word -- except for some bizarre reason "Track changes" was on, and when the document was viewed in Word (by a recruiter - it was for a resume) all of the edits were showing! Yikes! This was not due to an oversight on her part; the changes weren't showing in NeoOffice and it appeared that the feature was turned off. If you do use OpenOffice make sure you test it in Word before sending it anywhere important.
posted by PercussivePaul at 3:54 PM on January 26, 2008

Why not try wordpad?

Be wary of Open Office, it will work most of the time with word docs, but not all the time.

That said, download it and you can try it. It's a really good program.

One thing you could do is check the document at work using your copy of Word.

Also, as others have suggested, use pdfs where possible.
posted by sien at 5:12 PM on January 26, 2008

I used both Open Office and Word 2003 when working as a translator/copywriter, and nobody seemed to care as long as the copy was submitted in ".doc" format. Anyway, most businesses are upgrading to Office 2007, which is pretty different from Word 2003, but nobody really knows how to use it yet, so I wouldn't worry about buying it.

That said, people are going to want to know if you can format a document using Word. That means being able to insert page numbers, headers/footers, create a ToC, create an index, insert text boxes, format and space text, format paragraphs, insert images...all that stuff.

In most cases, if people are worried about whether or not you can use Word, well, they're also worried about "typing speed"...Heh.

Open Office is essentially a clone of Word 2003, so you can learn everything...for free!

BTW, if you're worried about how your Open Office resume looks when ported to Word....don't. Resumes should always be submitted as PDFs, and when you create your PDF you'll see how it looks, anyway.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:07 PM on January 26, 2008

I use WordPerfect 12 at work, and I know it has an MS Word mode. I'm not sure if this is an optional plugin that my firm has paid for, but you might see if your version has it.
posted by reenum at 6:11 PM on January 26, 2008

use zohowriter or any other online office suite and export as pdf.
posted by FidelDonson at 1:05 AM on January 27, 2008

Microsoft Works comes with many computers, and recent versions use the Office file formats. If you don't already have it, it's pretty cheap -- like $40.
posted by kindall at 1:33 AM on January 27, 2008

As the first two mentioned, Open Office is the way to go. It's free and you export in doc or pdf format. I don't know why anyone would want to pay for anything nowadays. You don't need to pay for high end software, there are so many alternatives out there now.
posted by magnoliasouth at 1:45 AM on January 27, 2008

Word will automatically adjust margins and page breaks of a document according to the capabilities of the current default printer. Your recruiter probably doesn't have the same printer that you do, so there's a good chance your carefully formatted CV will be mangled in some way - most commonly the last two lines get pushed onto an extra page.

I recommend sending a PDF, but also include a plain text file with the same content, so they can easily copy and paste any content they need.
posted by Lanark at 2:13 AM on January 27, 2008

Not a recruiter, but I do read a fair number of resumes. I find the PDF resumes annoying - it takes Adobe a bit longer to open. I don't dismiss those candidates, but they've managed to annoy me before I see a line of text.

Consider that your average recruiter or hiring manager is going to look at a volume of resumes very quickly. Recruiters know that your formating may be jacked a bit. They don't care. They are looking for good candidates, not resumes to frame for their offices.

MSWord is probably the standard. You could certain use an RTF as Dan Brilliant suggests.
posted by 26.2 at 9:52 AM on January 27, 2008

Speaking as a recruiter (I assume you are talking about 3rd party recruiters, not internal recruiters):

We like MS Word format because it makes our life easier. When we send a candidate's CV to a client, we normally copy it onto a template with our company's information in the header, and we also prepend a short candidate profile. The candidate's contact information is removed. This is done so that the client we are working for doesn't lose track of the provenance of the candidate.

If you send a PDF there is a good chance that your formatting will be messed up totally as a recruiter will simply copy the information to text and paste it into the template, doing their best to recover formatting. Or, time will be wasted as they'll come back to you for a Word file.

The other thing to consider is that most big companies track applicant resumes in a database that can read MS Word documents, allowing internal recruiters to search for keywords, etc. and find your information when relevant positions open up down the road. If you use a PDF they may never see your resume even if you're a perfect candidate.

So in conclusion, I would not use a PDF unless you're sure it is arriving directly in the hands of the hiring manager.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 9:57 AM on January 27, 2008

I used RTF for years without any trouble.
posted by herbaliser at 12:57 PM on January 29, 2008

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