PDF is the dominating formatting tool in the world of CVs

PDF is the dominating formatting tool in the world of CVs

A short introduction to file formats in application documents

An essential function of a CV Parser is to support the highest possible number of file formats, so that the entire range of documents provided by job candidates can be satisfactorily processed.

In this context, JoinVision has thoroughly revised the document conversion engine of the CV Parser “CVlizer” during the past weeks.

 file formats in application documents

And our efforts have paid off: we succeeded both in further increasing the number of the supported file formats as well as in enhancing the quality of the conversions.

The supported file formats – which are in the meantime totalling up to 144 (!) – now also include Apple "Pages". Thus, we asked ourselves, how many applications in this rather "exotic" file format have we actually received. For us, this was a good occasion to have a closer look on the distribution of the different (binary) formats of CV documents.

The by far most common format for the transmission of CVs is PDF, which, being a "portable document format", definitely lives up to its name. Nearly 74 percent of all CV files are transmitted in PDF format. Lagging far behind, with a share of only 12 percent each, come the two classical Microsoft Word formats DOC and DOCX. The Open Document Format (ODT) of Open Office et al. plays a rather negligible role being used to format just 0,4 percent of CVs, the same applies for the old Rich-Text-Format (RTF), which only reaches a value of 0,25 percent. The Microsoft-owned XPS format, originally conceived as competitor to PDF, can be truly and fortunately classified as absolutely insignificant as it is only in use for one-hundredth per mill (!) of all CVs, equally as Microsoft Works (WPS).

However, the distribution has not always been that obvious. In 2016, PDF’s "market share" in the field of application documents only amounted to 67 percent; Microsoft DOC, then holding 20 percent, was still twice as much present as its more modern DOXC-version, which reached 10 percent. In 2015, only 55 percent of the documents were formatted as PDF files, let alone the years before when this applied to roughly only 40 percent of the documents.

At JoinVision, we have been emphasizing for years that the PDF format is "the" state-of-the-art tool for the exchange of documents in general and for application documents in particular. In comparison, Word processing formats, such as DOC or DOCX, entail an array of disadvantages. PDF offers stable formatting, it is standardized, it can be read on every platform and it is resistant to Microsoft-Office macro viruses. If applicants want to be on the safe side, they should use the PDF format for their application documents. And this attitude proved to be exactly right, as the current trend shows.

And - by the way - how often is the Apple owned format “Pages” used? Notably enough, it is about twice as popular as Microsoft XPS. And that is definitely a good reason for us to support “Pages” as well, because not for nothing has our CVParser become the Parser with the broadest possible format support globally.


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JoinVision is a leading provider of multilingual semantic recruiting technology. With the two parsers CVlizer and JOBolizer, applicant documents and job advertisements are automatically recorded, analyzed and coded. Modules, such as HRclassifier, HRcapture and HRmerger, expand the possibilities to have all information immediately available as a standardized, structured candidate or job profile in XML format. At the end of 2019 JoinVision took over the commercialization of Joveo, a US-based technology provider for programmatic job advertising, in the German-speaking countries.

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