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I Have Had Only One Job: What Type of Resume Do I Choose?

The type of resume that is best suited to a candidate who has only held one job depends on the applicant's circumstances. A job seeker who has many years experience working for the same company, with varying tasks and responsibilities, will need a much different resume than a recent college graduate with limited work experience and one job. A different approach altogether should be taken for the applicant who has non-traditional work experience and transferable skills to offer.

Functional Resume

A functional resume is best for applicants with limited job experience because it focuses on skills instead of the chronological work history. When employees have only had one job, a resume emphasizing work experience in chronological order will draw attention to the lack of work history and may raise red flags for an employer. A functional resume, with its emphasis on skills taken from the job specification and used as resume subheadings, can showcase experience without highlighting the fact that all the skills arise from one job. But, a functional resume is not always welcomed by every employer. According to the Massachusetts Department of Workforce Development, many employers refuse to even read or consider a functional resume.

Chronological Resume

The chronological resume is the most widely accepted form of resume; however, if experience is limited to one job, it could emphasize the problem. For employees who have progressed within one company, or who have been assigned to multiple projects and responsibilities, the chronological resume could be a wise choice. List each project as a separate title or section on the resume and detail the experience gained from each task.

Focus on Education

Although the education section typically follows work experience, your resume should highlight your strongest assets. Applicants with scant work experience but impressive qualifications should place the focus on education by leading with qualifications and degrees upfront in their resume. If particular classes or components of your degree specifically relate to the job, highlight those and explain how they will help you succeed. Professional certifications that specifically relate to the industry or skills needed for the job should also be featured prominently in the document.

Transferable Skills and Experience

Applicants might choose a resume format that is a hybrid of the chronological and functional format. Using this format allows applicants to include additional experience gained outside of the traditional work environment. According to a 2008 "Wall Street Journal" article on how to create a resume if you have a limited work history, including volunteer employment and community activities can supplement a resume that looks sparse.


For more than a decade, Tia Benjamin has been writing organizational policies, procedures and management training programs. A C-level executive, she has more than 15 years experience in human resources and management. Benjamin obtained a Bachelor of Science in social psychology from the University of Kent, England, as well as a Master of Business Administration from San Diego State University.