If you’ve only ever held one job, writing a resume might feel like a daunting task. After all, how do you show career progression when your career hasn’t really progressed? It’s a little tricky, but it can definitely be done — here’s how!
In this article, we'll cover:
- How to structure your resume if you've been at only one company but have held different roles or responsibilities.
- How to show a progression of roles and responsibilities if you haven't been promoted.
- How to write your resume if you’re new to the workforce and have just one job.
- What to do if you’re changing careers and only have one relevant job in your target industry.
- How to choose the best resume format for listing a single job.
How to make a resume with only one job
Let's start by looking at an example
First, let’s take a look at what your resume could look like with only one job on it.
Doesn’t look so bad, does it? In fact, at first glance, it’s hard to even tell that you’ve only held one job — and that’s the point. Not to hide the truth, of course, but to show real progression regardless of how many companies you’ve worked for.
There’s one simple rule when it comes to writing a single-job resume:
Show career progression.
Here are some quick ways to show career progression on a resume:
- Highlight promotions
- Show a progression of roles and responsibilities
- Demonstrate a wide range of skill sets
- Highlighting transferable skills
- Use numbers to show impact
- Get more experience
I’d recommend uploading your resume to the tool below — it’ll let you know if your resume shows enough progression, soft and transferable skills and impact.
Emphasize promotions on your resume
The easiest way to show career progression is through promotions, so if you’ve been moving up within the same company, that won't raise eyebrows the same way as if you’d been in the same position for 10+ years. You can highlight a promotion on your resume either by listing the job titles separately with their own bullet points, or by grouping the titles together if your duties were similar.
Let's look at two examples of showing a promotion. In the first one, you can highlight a promotion by listing separate job titles under the same company name.
In the second example, you can use bullet points to call out that you were promoted.
Here are some bullet point examples you can use to highlight a promotion:
- Promoted to Associate Consultant in 2 years (1 year in advance); the only member in a cohort of 45 Analysts to be fast-tracked
- Promoted within 12 months due to strong performance and organizational impact - ahead of schedule by 12 months
- Ranked top of the class and offered an early promotion to Senior Analyst after two years
Use resume action verbs which stress your promotions — words like Promoted, Ranked or Grew are great.
Read more in our in-depth guide on how to show a promotion on a resume.
Show a progression of roles and responsibilities if you haven't been promoted
If you’ve held multiple jobs at one employer without a formal promotion, try listing more impressive and in-depth accomplishments for later roles and fewer or simpler accomplishments for earlier ones. If you’ve only ever held the one position, include accomplishments that speak to career growth, like explicitly mentioning times you’ve taken on additional responsibilities or been entrusted with higher-level tasks.
Here are some bullet point examples you can use:
- Oversaw the development of more robust reporting for the customer support team, which improved customer NPS by 15% year over year
- Created a coaching strategy for sales development representatives leading to a new business performance that was 20% above plan for 2017
- Grew to lead and onboard a team of 4 operations analysts
To ensure your resume's bullet points are effective, make sure you take advantage of free tools like Score My Resume — they'll scan your resume's bullet points and tell you if they're effective from the point of view of hiring managers.
Read more about listing multiple jobs at the same company on your resume.
Show off your skills and show progression of skills
Another way to prove that you haven’t stagnated in your tenure at one company is by emphasizing skill progression and showing a wide range of skill sets.
Using subheadings is a great way to do this — separate subheadings allow you to list a large number of skills without making your skills section difficult to read. It can also give the illusion of having a more varied skill set, even if all your skills came from the same job.
Read more about the top resume skills and keywords in demand across different industries and positions.
If you want to find hard skills and keywords relevant to the job you’re applying for, use our skills search tool below — it’ll give you a list of skills to include in your skills section.
Highlight transferable skills
Transferable skills — or soft skills — are, like their name suggests, skills that you can use in any job. While hard skills like computer programming aren't likely to be useful if you're applying for a job in sales, soft skills like communication, teamwork, leadership, and time management are always valuable.
Never list transferable skills in your skills section or talk them up in your cover letter. Instead, use your bullet point accomplishments to show how you've used them. Here are some examples.
To show attention to detail:
Handled all aspects of preparing the weekly payroll and expense reporting for a 200-person office; kept detailed audit records and processed 100% of payments on time.
To show organization:
Coordinated mailing over 40,000 invitations, formal letters, and information packets annually.
To show communication skills:
Wrote and produced 100+ client prospecting video emails, leading to 50+ leads and landing major accounts.
Read more about how to highlight transferable skills on a resume.
Use numbers to show impact
Including numbers and metrics is the best way to make your accomplishments stand out, even if you’ve only held one job. This is called quantifying your resume's bullet points.
Stating what you did is all well and good, but what potential employers want to know is what you’re likely to do for them — and using numbers to show the concrete impact you’ve made in your current role is the most effective way to do that.
Even a close approximation will do — if you can’t find out exactly how much revenue you’ve generated for your company, or how much you’ve improved efficiency, listing a good estimate is far more valuable than not using numbers at all.
Here are a few sample resume bullet points which show you how to use numbers in your resume, to increase overall impact.
Read more about how to quantify your resume and what recruiters are looking for.
Get more experience
If you need more experience, why not go out and get it?
There are more options for relevant experience than your work history alone. As long as you can point to an accomplishment or two that align with the position you’re applying for, feel free to use non-work activities to round out your professional experience. Consider including:
- Freelance or contract work
- Personal or university projects
- Extracurricular activities
If you’ve been at the same company for years
Working at the same company for years can feel like a good thing — after all, it demonstrates loyalty, right? The truth is, it’s a mixed bag. On one hand, yes. Staying with one company shows that you aren’t a job hopper and are willing to stick around long-term, which are positive qualities.
On the other hand, it does raise questions which can become red flags if not addressed. What kinds of questions? Mostly, employers will be curious about why you stuck around so long. It could be for a good reason — maybe the pay was great or you really loved the work.
But it could also be for a bad one. Were you unable to land a better job? Not motivated enough to try? Simply don’t have any interest in progressing beyond your current position? Any of these potential explanations could give a hiring manager pause, which is why it's so important to demonstrate your willingness to change and grow beyond your current role.
Show career progression
If you've been steadily moving up the ladder at your current employer, it's unlikely to raise red flags with a recruiter. In fact, it's unlikely that they'll see you as having held only one job, especially if your job title has changed along with your promotion.
If you’ve worked at the same company for a while without being promoted, you can still demonstrate career growth. The trick is to show a progression of responsibilities — scroll up for our tips and examples.
One of the most common concerns recruiters have about people who’ve held multiple jobs at one company is that they’ll be unwilling — or unable — to change in a new role. You can counteract this by demonstrating adaptability within your current role.
That means it can actually be an asset to show times when you’ve stepped outside of your role, like working closely with another department, taking on additional duties, or undergoing training to freshen up your skills. Even focusing on a more varied range of accomplishments within the one job can work — anything to show that you’re not just a one-trick pony.
Here's a resume example which shows how someone has worked in different projects, with different departments, using different tools and strategies.
If you’re new to the workforce and have just one job
It’s completely fine to have only one job on your resume if you’re still at the beginning of your career. In fact, if you’ve only been working for a year or two, it’s better to have held a single job in that period than multiple shorter jobs. That said, even with only one job under your belt, you can still show growth by:
- Choosing resume accomplishments that match the position you’re applying for
- Including metrics to show to impact of your achievements
- Tailoring your resume's skills and keywords to match the job description
- Including internships, volunteer work, projects, and even relevant coursework until you have more professional experience to replace it with
Read more tips for writing a resume with limited (or no) work experience.
If you’re changing careers and just have one relevant job in your target industry
It’s always better to limit your resume to relevant experience — but if you’re trying to move into a completely different role or industry, you may only have one relevant job and a whole lot of less-relevant ones. So, what then?
Create two different sections
The best strategy in this case is to separate your job history into two sections. Title one “Work Experience” or “Relevant Work Experience” and include jobs that are in the same field — even if that’s only one job.
Underneath that, create a new section titled “Other Experience” where you can include less-relevant jobs. For these, list fewer accomplishments, and only ones that demonstrate transferable skills. This allows you to show that you’ve held more than one job without cluttering up your resume with positions that aren’t relevant to the kind of jobs you’re applying for now. It's also a better option than leaving those jobs off your resume entirely.
Read more about how to write a resume if you’re currently in the process of changing careers (or you’re thinking about it) in our guide on how to update your resume for a career change.
How to choose the best resume format
This one actually isn't difficult. Despite well-meaning advice that you can hide job gaps, unemployment, or lack of experience with a functional resume, you should always opt to follow the standard chronological resume format.
Confused about different resume types?
- A functional or skills-based resume is one that leaves off dates — and sometimes even company names or job titles — from your resume. The aim is to highlight skills over experience, but it's an obvious trick that won't impress hiring managers, who want to know how long (and how recent) your experience was.
- A hybrid or combination resume is one that combines aspects of a functional and chronological resume. This is more recruiter-friendly than a purely functional resume but still usually isn't the best option — you want to start with your work experience to make sure it doesn't get overlooked.
- A chronological resume is the traditional resume format that you're probably used to and is still standard across the board. In a chronological resume format, you list your most recent experience at the top, followed by any older jobs, education, skills, and other information.
Why use a chronological resume format?
- Hiring managers expect it. It's the standard, which means that deviating from it is likely to make people wonder what you're trying to hide.
- It prioritizes the most important information (your work experience).
- It still allows for flexibility in certain situations — for example, recent graduates can still lead with an education section, while career changers can split their work history into "relevant experience" and "other experience."
- It won't stand out. You want recruiters to be focused on the content of your resume — not the format.