So some time ago I switched jobs between two companies. Or maybe I didn't.

What actually decides if you need to list a work history as one job or two?

In my case I switched between what are basically two companies owned by the same parent company, except that in both cases the parent company was the one actually signing my paycheck, determining benefits and retirement, determining job classifications and pay ranges. Each child entity hired me and had their own HR department and budget, and could determine pay and raises within the pay range, but the money for the positions would go to the parent company and then be paid to me. When I switched, I kept all accrued benefits as if I stayed at the same place, but at the same time I had to fill out all the paperwork as a new hire (but I wasn't actually allowed to make choices, for example the insurance option I had selected when I was hired by the first child company was the one I had to put down when I switched to the second child company).

As far as taxes go, I received a single W2 that held my wages from both positions combined during the year I made the switch.

If asked where I work(ed) at, I could honestly answer either "I work for parent." or "I use to work for child1 but now I work for child2."

So in work experience, what should I use to determine if this should be listed as two separate employments or one employment that spanned two positions?

  • Use whatever language gives you the best advantage on your resume. You could treat each job like a "lateral move" within the company.
    – Voxwoman
    Commented Feb 27, 2015 at 22:39

3 Answers 3


If the jobs were essentially the same, you could just list the parent company. But you could also list each job separately, and probably should do so if the jobs were different or one was a step up from the other. So, list them something like this:

TitleB at ChildCompanyB (owned by ParentCompany) from April 2012-present

  • responsibilities and tasks

TitleA at ChildCompanyA (owned by ParentCompany) from Sept 2009-April 2012

  • responsibilities and tasks

In other words, list both. That way when they call for references, it won't matter how the call is answered. It will be clear that the names are interchangeable.


[W]hat should I use to determine if this should be listed as two separate employments or one employment that spanned two positions?

It sounds like there is no material difference. Use whichever company sounds better on the resume. This is similar to mergers/acquisitions, where you may start working for one company but that company changes over time. Which ever you choose, you may want to add a single sentence to each position saying you worked in the subsidiary but were employed by the parent company.

Vary this depending on the company size. For example, if you are applying for a job at a larger company and want to show experience at larger companies, use the parent company in the OP as the employer. If you are applying for a job at a smaller company, use the two subsidiaries. Some employers like someone with experience in that size of company.

If the time at the subsidiaries was relatively short, you may want to use the parent company. Some employers are biased against "job hoppers" that spend short periods (less that one year but varies between different industries) in positions. It may indicate the potential employee is hard to work with or has trouble deciding what type of role he or she enjoys.

If you are going for a position that requires experience in a specialist area for one of the subsidiaries, I would use the subsidiaries instead of the parent company. For example, say the parent organization is a bank but one of the subsidiaries you worked for is their international markets/foreign investments arm. If you are moving into a new company in a position dealing with foreign investments, use the subsidiary on the CV.


This may be one case where you can be entirely honest, while presenting the facts to your best advantage. As long as the two companies aren't clearly distinct, but are two separate entities, you could tailor it either way.

If you've had a few short jobs and think it would be advantageous to add some consistency and show an ability to grow within a company, list it as a single employment with a transfer/promotion with the company.

If you think your resume could do with a little extra breadth and variety, list it as two distinct jobs.

As long as you can honestly state it either way, this is an area of ambiguity which you can use to frame your experience in whichever light would be most positive to your career.

Just be careful to make sure that it is ambiguous, and that whenever you're claiming is a reasonable way to represent the real situation.

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