The Complete Guide to Writing CVs: Make Your CV Stand Out

Take a look at our graduate CV template and understand how to use the format to showcase your strengths.
Jevitha Muthusamy
Editorial Writer

The only standard rule for writing CVs is that there are no standard rules. Your CV will differ from others’ based on your personal experiences, qualifications, and skills, and it will grow and change with you over time as well. 

You also need to tailor your CV for each job application so that it highlights the specific qualities the employer is looking for. Overall, your CV should convey a compelling story to recruiters about why you can succeed in that particular job, with this specific employer, in that particular career line of work.

We’ve put together a recommended CV template to help you get started. This article will take you through each section of it to explain why it has been put together in this way, so that you can effectively build your own CV too.

Click here to view our full recommended CV template!


Your name and contact details


You don’t need to put the words “Curriculum Vitae”, “CV”, or “Resumé” in the header. Start with your name in standout fonts so that your CV can be easily identified when printed out. Then follow with your contact details.

Make sure that employers can actually reach you on the contact channels you list. If you include email addresses, make sure they sound professional. 

You could include your LinkedIn profile here. If you do, make sure it’s been updated and matches the information given in your CV. For some roles in areas such as marketing, advertising, or design, you could include links to your blog, online portfolio, or social media feeds. Remember that employers will likely check any links you add to your CV.

You don’t need to include a photo with your CV. This is not standard practice in Malaysia, though specific employers may sometimes request for it. Listing your age, gender, ethnicity, or date of birth is optional too. You certainly don’t have to do so if the employer (or job portal) already requires you to fill in a separate application form.

Should you include a personal statement or professional summary in a graduate CV?

The short answer is: usually no. Our CV template does not include a personal statement or professional summary section because it is not essential at this early stage in your career. 

These statements are usually meant for experienced candidates with multiple past positions, who may need to summarise their career journey so far. The risk is that as a graduate, your personal statement or professional summary can come across as generic and bland because you don’t have much to share yet, and employers may just ignore it.  

If you really feel that your CV needs an introduction, you can include a “Key Achievements” section and summarise your relevant achievements in bullet points. This is more likely to be focused and succinct, and will provide concrete details that employers like.

However, if you are sending out a CV that will not be accompanied by a cover letter/statement or application form (e.g. applying for jobs through a job portal, through a recruitment agency, etc.), then a personal statement could be a useful way to introduce yourself.

Your education history


Make sure you follow any instructions about which qualifications and grades to list. Depending on the job, the employer may want graduates from specific degree backgrounds only, or may have minimum requirements when it comes to degree grades. This is where you show how you fit in.

List key details relating to your education in reverse chronological order (i.e. most recent ones first). If you haven’t completed your degree yet, include a projected final grade if possible.

How much detail should you go into about your degree? It depends on the role you are applying for. You don’t need to explain in detail what you studied, unless it’s relevant to the job. This is more common for technical roles that require specialised knowledge, such as engineering and IT jobs. 

If you do list particular course modules, include the grades you got for them. Good grades in relevant modules will strengthen your application. If you want to highlight a module that may interest an employer but you haven’t got your final grade yet, state that you’re still studying it.

You could include details of academic prizes or awards in this section, or put them in an achievements section elsewhere in your CV.

Your work experiences or employment history


This is the most important part of your CV, and what employers will want the most information about. So make sure you allocate the most space for this section compared to others.

Some CV templates split this up along the lines of “relevant work experience” and “other work experience”. However, it is best to try and make all the information you include appear relevant.
List your work experience or employment history in reverse chronological order (i.e. most recent ones first). 

Use bullet points to highlight key details. Keep them short – no longer than two lines. They’re meant to be a concise way of sharing information.

When choosing what details to highlight, focus on points that demonstrate relevant skills and competencies as listed in the job description. For example, if the job description requires “strong customer-facing skills”, then list past experiences where you had to service customers/clients for work. 

It’s good to be specific and precise in the examples you give of your skills. This could mean avoiding generic, overused terms such as “communication” and “teamwork”, and using words like “negotiating”, “persuading”, or “influencing” instead. However, don’t go too overboard with this. Prioritise reflecting any skills explicitly listed in the job description.

Employers love evidence. It’s not enough to just tell them how great you are  ̶  you need to show them! When writing your points, give concrete examples and quantify your impact where possible. 

This could involve saying how frequently you carried out a task, or giving a numerical outcome. If you worked as part of a team, try to indicate what you contributed. If you proposed an idea, briefly describe what it was, whether it was implemented, and what the impact was. 

Don’t be too quick to omit your part-time jobs in retail or F&B because you assume employers won’t be interested. Those can still be valuable sources of relevant skills. Drawing attention to awards or performance incentives part-time employers gave you is a good way to highlight this. However, it’s better to focus on transferable skills, such as being tactful with rude customers, than just describe routine tasks.

You can also group similar part-time jobs together, if there aren’t enough positive details that you can pick out to highlight about each role.

Extracurricular activities


This is where you outline your involvement in student societies and organisations, sports, and volunteering.

You can structure the details you give about your extracurricular activities or volunteering experiences in a similar way as with the work experience section. Where possible, describe your contributions and quantify your impact.

By the time you’re in university and applying for graduate jobs, employers are not going to be interested in activities from your secondary school days. So as a general rule, you should not include those.

Some candidates may decide to list “interests” or “hobbies” under this section to showcase their life outside of classes and work. This is purely optional, and only if you have the space for it.

If you do include interests or hobbies, avoid listing “common” pastimes such as socialising with friends, watching shows, or shopping. Focus on team sports, volunteering, overseas expeditions, or niche interests that can catch recruiters’ eyes and give them a better sense of who you are. Fencing? Bouldering? E-Sports? Southeast Asian art and history? It’s up to you. 

Languages and additional skills


If you include languages, describe your level of fluency in each one in spoken and written forms. You can illustrate this with examples of how you’ve used your language skills at work or in your extracurricular activities, or with a language test score if you have one.

You can also list additional skills that don’t seem to neatly fit in any of the other sections. Listing IT skills or experience with work software is usually a safe bet, since employers will be on the lookout for those across the board.


You can save space by writing “References on request”. Or, in some cases, you could even leave out this line altogether, as you’ll most likely have to provide referees’ details in an employer’s application form anyway.