Essential Writing Rules For Your CV

Adopting and applying good, concise English is the key to getting your message across to recruiters perfectly.
Jasmine Mun_Writer_gradmalaysia_round
Jasmine Mun
Writer, gradmalaysia
How You Write Your CV Matters_mainphoto

If you think recruiters would be impressed by bombastic words and jargon, think again! Being simple and direct is the best way to draft a CV, cover letter, or even fill in an application form.

However, being simple does not mean you can be casual with your words. It’s still crucial to maintain formality and be professional in your writing, but you can do so without fancy flourishes and “impressive” figures of speech.

Recruiters go through tons of application documents every day. Let’s not make their job any harder than it already is. Make it a habit to use simple English so they can understand your message in an instant.

The Ultimate Dos and Don’ts

Here’s a guide on written communication 101 to help you save the recruiter’s time in understanding your application and make good use of the limited amount of space in your application form.



Use Headers and Bullet Points

Format your CV in a way that it’s easier to read, organised and direct.

E.g. Tasks as a team leader included:

  • Led a team of 20 members
  • Managed 3 projects at the same time
  • Prioritised urgent and overlapping tasks
  • Curated strategies to drive teamwork
  • Wrote reports for the Student Council office

Write Long Paragraphs and Sentences

Refrain from cramming too much information in it which is hard to read.

E.g. My tasks as a team leader included

leading a team of 20 members,

overseeing three projects that happened at the same time, prioritising urgent and overlapping tasks, thinking of strategies to drive teamwork, and reporting to the student council office.


Keep It Short

  • Write short sentences.
  • If it’s possible to cut a word out, do it.

E.g. I enjoy working with and leading a team. My experience as a team

leader allowed me to hone my leadership and interpersonal skills. With that, I get along well with my teammates.


Be Long-Winded

  • Avoid overusing conjunctions like “and”, “that”, “as”, “so”, etc.
  • Exclude unnecessary descriptions and adjectives.

E.g. I enjoy working with and leading a team, and my experience as a team leader allowed me to hone my leadership and interpersonal skills that allowed me to work alongside inspiring, hardworking as well as cooperative teammates.


Be Active

Sentences in the active voice have a strong, direct, and clear tone.

E.g. As a team leader, I managed many documents and chat groups.


Use Passive Voice

Sentences in passive voice sound subtler, weaker and robot-like.

E.g. As a team leader, I had many documents and chat groups to be managed.

Be Direct

Replace unnecessarily long phrases and fancy sentences with direct words.


  • Within the workplace -> at work
  • At this point in time -> now/currently
  • In addition to the aforementioned -> also



Here are more examples of replacing fancy phrases with single words.


  • During the time that -> while
  • For the reason that -> because
  • Subsequent to -> after