By Jim Wong, CPA | August 6, 2013

In your quest for the perfect career opportunity, resume design is an element that should not be overlooked. In fact, overall resume design can be your ticket to landing your next interview, or your free pass to the recycling bin. Although a resume for accounting and finance fields will be a tad more conservative than, say, a resume for a graphic designer, there are still visual elements you can implement to make your resume stand out, and help move you into that interview.

It’s a Numbers Game
According to a recent article by the Chicago Tribune, a recruiter will spend, on average, six-to-fifteen seconds reviewing a resume. That’s not a lot of time to catch their eye, or make an impression that lasts.

So, how can you hold their attention long enough to land an interview? The key could be resume design. Don’t worry, you’re not expected to be a Photoshop expert or spend endless hours finding just the right color of resume paper. However, you should keep several key design elements in mind when crafting your resume.

Draw Attention to the Right Details
Recruiters spend 80 percent of their time reviewing a few key elements on each resume. Can you guess which aspects they consider most important? You might be surprised to find they include:

  • Name
  • Current title and company
  • Previous title and company
  • Current start and end dates
  • Previous start and end dates
  • Education

Does this statistic mean recruiters don’t care about achievements or work experience? Not at all. However, knowing they focus on the above points does offer insight into what to keep in mind as you review your resume design.

Considering recruiters highly value the above information when choosing whether or not to interview an applicant, ask yourself if these elements stand out on your resume.

Remove Clutter to Add Clarity
Just as with reading content online like blog posts and articles, it’s much easier to spotlight key information when you incorporate bullet points. Avoid large blocks of text, as they can be difficult to read through. At the same time, don’t fill your resume with an overabundance of bullet points or you run the risk of diluting their ‘stand-out ability.’

Embrace White Space
Fight the urge to fill your entire resume with text. White space is a great way to remove clutter, as well as clarify the important points within your resume. Take a step back and find the focal point. Where is your eye immediately drawn?

“Your resume should be concise, not crowded. Some white space and a decent font size are both critical to readability,” advises MoneyWatch contributor, Amy Levin-Epstein.

Don’t Forget the Headlines
Headlines are an opportunity to draw attention to key information. Use a clear, easily readable font, and make sure it is larger than your body font. This will help breakup your resume and draw attention to key details, which in turn, makes it easier for recruiters to get to the facts they need.

“Every piece of contact information does not need its own line,” explains Chicago Tribune contributor, Bridget Conrad. Instead, she suggests job seekers use “one line for your entire address and another for your cellphone number and email.”

Consider your resume a constant work in progress. Refer back to it often to ensure information is up-to-date, and don’t shy away from getting the opinion of a resume-savvy colleague, recruiter, or a professional.

Does your resume design need a refresh? Implement the key elements listed above to secure that next interview.

This article originally appeared on Clear Focus Financial Search.

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