Do’s and Don’ts of CV Writing


  • Recruiters on average spend only 6 seconds on each CV. It is crucial to have a clear structure to make your CV reader-friendly. A traditional CV structure should include the following information:

  1. Personal information (name and contact details [email, contact number, address, Linkedin account]), only include your home address if you'll be travelling from another state.

  2. Academic background (with a breakdown of [selected] grades)

  3. Relevant/legal work experience

  4. Extra-curricular activities/Roles and Responsibilities

  5. Volunteering experience

  6. Awards & achievements

  7. Hobby and Interests

  8. Additional skills (e.g. proficiency & no. of languages you speak, IT skills)

Each point should include your:

  1. Position (e.g. Skills Enhancement Director)

  2. Organisation/Location (e.g. KPUM)

  3. Start date - end date (e.g. August 2019 - September 2020; July 2020 - Present)

  • Look professional, use the correct layout & be consistent with the formatting.

  • Plain white paper (A4 size)

  • Refrain from using bright colours and informal backgrounds (best kept at grayscale to look professional)

  • Stick with one to two colour(s)

  • Size 11 standard font (e.g. Arial, Times New Roman, Georgia or any professional-looking font)

  • Photos are optional (for MY application): If you choose to include one, use a recent professional photo (no selfies or photos in informal settings); for UK applicants, you are strongly advised against including any photos in your CV

  • Ensure consistent punctuation throughout, e.g. the use of colons/commas/hyphens

  • Avoid using tables – they consume too much space.

  • Use short sentences

  • Use bold subheadings & bullet points.

  • Keep your CV to 1 to 2 pages.

  • Note: If you are just starting law school, the firms are not expecting much work experience.

  • Arrange your experiences in reverse chronological order - you should always start with your most recent experience for each section.

  • Take note of standardising spacing and alignment throughout your CV.

  • Research about the firm(s) you’re applying to, find out what kind of candidates they’re looking for, and tailor your CV to each of them

  • Avoid writing generic information, e.g. ‘active member of Manchester University Law Society’ but instead, jazz it up by writing something interesting that showcases your personality! Recruiters tend to be impressed if you’ve done something outside the legal sector that shows your enthusiasm and motivation.

  • Avoid grammar and spelling mistakes to demonstrate your attention to detail.

  • Ensure that you have spelt the firm’s name correctly and let your friends proofread before you send out your CV.

  • Use a professional tone.

  • CV is usually used in a professional setting; it is crucial to use a professional tone that best represents your compatibility with your target role. ○ Use action words that excite the reader or power words that evoke an emotional response, e.g. ‘accelerated’, ‘driven’, or ‘generated’. ○ The GuardianJobs recommends using four Ps to manage your tone: Positivity, Professionalism, Personal, and Pace. More information can be found here.

  • Use a professional CV filename.

  • Your CV filename is also a personal branding opportunity. A good one may not secure you a place, but a bad one will definitely not do your CV justice.

  • Use a professional CV filename, refrain from using names like “Converted_pdf_XXX”, “XXX (2)”, “alissa97”.

  • An excellent example of a CV filename will go along the line of “(First Name)(Second Name)_CV”.

  • You may even add your target company name to show your commitment to the role

  • Note: You may have to change your name order depending on where you are applying to (UK or Malaysia)

  • Do not use version numbers.

  • Always save your CV as a PDF file

  • Never save it as a word document.


  • Simply list your experiences without further elaboration

  • You should always back up each experience with specific examples i.e. write about the impact you made.

  • Structure your evidence using the CAR model:

  • Context: What was the situation? Keep this brief, but be specific.

  • Action: What did YOU do? Use strong active language.

  • Result: How did you contribute to the outcome? Qualify and quantify!

  • Add in too much detail (keyword stuffing)

  • The key to a good CV is to make use of the limited space (1 to 2 pages) to demonstrate your ability clearly and concisely.