Saving as PDF is not a problem in TextEdit. The problem is when I go back to the original file to make changes and the formatting is all messed up again. The file is a resume that I'm tweaking and saving as a PDF to send to émigrés and I don't want to have to re-set the bullets and tabs every time I open it to edit the text and save a new PDF.
In support of your advice ....
Preview will open directly .doc/.docx Word files. The path to PDF can also be through the Export facility.
Preview is only as good as Pages when attempting to open Word documents. If the OP has complicated Word documents that will not open with Preview, then a suggestion is to download and install the free LibreOffice 4.x (libreoffice.org) application. This will certainly open Word documents.
Rather than learn LibreOffice just to convert PDF, the OP can use the following Terminal command:
/Applications/LibreOffice.app/Contents/MacOS/soffice --headless -convert-to pdf:writer_pdf_Export sample.docx
This will write out a PDF of the input file to the current directory. Providing *.doc or *.docx on the command-line will convert all files matching this description to their PDF counter-parts. There is a --outdir argument that given a path to a directory, will place the resulting PDF there for improved organization.
The above command does not visibly launch LibreOffice. The only output is a single line to the terminal indicating that the conversion has taken place.