Dental Hygiene Job Searching is Small Stuff

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Fact: There are more dental hygienists than there are dental hygiene jobs today. That often means dental hygiene job searching is all about the small stuff.

Let’s review small areas that can have a big impact for you.confident-woman

Digital Presence

Yep, employers are checking you out on the internet. They are looking for you on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter… wherever your name pops up. Question is what are they finding?

One could use this as an excuse to unplug your digital presence but that doesn’t necessarily give someone a positive impression about you either. They might falsely assume you are not up with technology or social trends.

You want employers to feel satisfied they found you and you want to make sure that what they see is what you want them to see

Tip: “Google” your name and see what they are seeing then do some “housekeeping” or updating where you see potential problems. Consider getting a website or really strong LinkedIn page to direct their attention to. Having a place to send them to will often satisfy their need to Google your name.

Accessibility

Be extremely intentional about your contact information. Leave no doubt how they can get a hold of you. I’m not saying give three phone numbers, two e-mails, social messaging options, a website, a fax number, a pager… wait (do pagers still exist?) – in fact, limit your communications options to one e-mail and one phone number. But, plaster them everywhere – once on all your materials and also within your e-mail signature line.

Know Employers

Want to really impress an employer? Show them this isn’t just another job application for you and that it isn’t the same thing you send everyone else. Make your potential employer feel special.

When they have the option of hiring four or five really good candidates out of 50-60 applications, they want to see something extra. They want to know you are truly interested in them.

Spend 15-30 minutes getting up to speed on them – visit their website, the social media pages, ask people who might know them about them, and check out their customer ratings and feedback (often easy to find online). Then call attention to one or two things so they can see you’ve done your homework – that you went that extra mile just for them.

Resume

There are lots of little things you can do with your resume. You don’t even have to do them all. You just need to look like you have done more than the average applicant.

I’ve read and written hundreds of dental hygiene resumes and doing just a few small things will really make you shine above most.

Consider the following: A nicer design/layout, a great functional style/format, succinct writing, a little color, and adding your photo.

Interview

This is your first impression I wrote about recently. Make it count by doing all the little things mentioned there.

But also know ahead of time how you will respond to challenging questions. And then a few other things such as, arrive a little early, send a thank you note after, know the number of the office you are going to in case you are going to be late, dress appropriately, and then of course interview etiquette of pacing, eye contact, and firm handshakes.

Age-Proofing Your Dental Hygiene Resume

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Lots of people are worried about age discrimination and so I get lots of questions about age-proofing your dental hygiene resume.

The interesting thing is it comes from two completely different age brackets – younger hygienists just out of school and older hygienists who have been out a couple decades.age

Both feel they will not get a job simply because of their age/experience.

While you can’t hide your age or appearance forever, there are few things you can do to make it less obvious at the resume stage.

Here are four simple tweaks you can make to age-proof your dental hygiene resume:

Evaluate Your E-mail Address

I’ll be the first to admit, I have an e-mail address I use that could be a giveaway of my age (dougperry88@gmail.com). No, I am not 88 years old (ha!)! But I couldn’t get dougperry@gmail.com the time so I added the year I graduated from high school.

Lots of people do this but if I am worried about age discrimination I would choose something else. Why even put something out there that may even cause speculation?

Last week I gave several tips on choosing the right e-mail address for job hunting purposes. Click here to read those tips.

Only Most Recent Jobs

There’s no rule or etiquette in resume writing that says you have to have to include your entire work history. In fact, it would be less-favorable to include jobs that are irrelevant to dental hygiene. So leave off the last some of your earliest jobs – no harm in doing this at all.

It would be bad and huge red flag if you simply left the years you worked at each job listed. That’s one of the most important things employers look at on resumes. They want to know how many years of experience you have and since it’s one of the most basic features of resumes not including it may mean automatic rejection.

Leave High School in the Past

There are some who will include their high school and graduation year as part of their education section. Totally unnecessary and a waste of space, no offense to those awesome years of your youth! Once a person enters college, I say ditch the references to high school on your resume. Especially for a dental hygiene professional, it really does nothing for you except tell an employer how old you are.

The College Years

Unlike the years you list in your work experience, I believe (and I share this opinion with lots of resume writers) it’s okay to not list the years you went to college. The more important piece of information is that you graduated (and are licensed).

Photos

Pictures can do a lot to hide your age if they are professionally done. If you choose to include a picture on your resume, my best advice is to hire it out. Dress in interview-ready attire and if you are older select a pose that conveys energy and vitality, with a subtle hint of wisdom. If you are younger, select a pose the shows confidence and maturity. A good photographer can help you with this.

Dental Hygiene Resumes – One Page or Two?

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One of the most common questions dental hygienists have about their resume is whether it should be one page or two.

For most professions, not just dental hygiene, the advice is the same: keep it to one page, with one exception. I’ll share that below.image

Why only one page? Three reasons:

  1. More likely to get read – It’s really simple. One-page resumes are much more likely to get read because they are not as long. In a saturated job environment, offices will get dozens of great applicants and so there simply isn’t time to get through two pages of that many resumes.
  2. Not necessary – I’ve written hundreds of dental hygiene resumes and very very few of them needed that second page. No one ever got an interview because of what was on page two of their resume.
  3. The type of resume – The most effective style of resume for dental hygienists is in a functional format, which is easier to keep shorter.

So, how do you keep it to just one page:

  1. Use a Functional style of resume – That’s where you post your accomplishments, skills, and expertise in a section near the top just under the About Me section. That way you can avoid some redundancies of posting some of the same things under each job. Then for your work experience you only need to list each job and how long you worked there.
  2. Only need to include the basics – You really only need to include four sections: About Me; Skills & Accomplishments; Work Experience; and Education.
  3. Bullets and not paragraphs – The only place you should have a paragraph is in that opening About Me section. The rest of the resume is basically in list format (bullets and such).

So when are two pages justified?

Most dental hygienists spend their career working in a clinical setting, but some will get very involved on the component leadership level or to the point of contributing thought papers, articles, or research to the profession. For those, a second page can be justified to include all the “additional” contributions they make on top of their clinical experience.

Others might include experiences on the education or corporate side of dental hygiene, serving as instructors or sales reps. These types of experiences require some additional explanation and thus the second page may also be necessary. However, even hygienists in these situations should consider creating a second resume that focuses on this different part of their career.