Some time ago I was sitting on a plane next to a gentleman I had never met before. We started making small talk about this or that and hadn’t really made any connections so I was pretty resigned that we had very little in common and the conversation would soon be shutting down. Then he dropped a line about having lived in Oregon for a time.
Having grown up in Oregon I suddenly became more attentive and it wasn’t long before we were going back and forth about all kinds of things we had in common. It turned out to be a great visit, lasting the entire flight, as we shared stories about common things we had experienced in Oregon.
Getting hired as a dental hygienist really is more art than science. Employers may say they want “a hygienist with two years of experience and knowledge of Dentrix,” but let’s face it lots of hygienists fit that description. What they really want is someone they can connect with professionally – someone that “gets” them.
But it’s difficult to get to that point until you make smaller connections – maybe you know someone in common, maybe you graduated from the same high school, or possibly you have an interest in something they like to do also. It could even be a small connection you have with someone else in the office – someone you know personally or maybe even you have a friend whose mom works there. Anything is fair game and will help you!
Here’s some tips that will help you accelerate the creation of those connections to help you land that next dental hygiene job.
Make a Game Out of It
There’s a popular theory (Six Degrees of Separation) that everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away from each other. So, for the next dental hygiene job you apply for turn it into a little game where you try to figure out if the office is six steps away or fewer from someone you know or some other connection you have. And then start writing down all the connections you have. There are probably more than one when you start really digging in.
To find these connections, visit their social media pages and website. But also Google their names – studies show most employers are doing that with your name so you might as well play the same game to see what you can learn that will help you. Talk to your friends and family, asking them if they know anything about that office. Talk with former employers and co-workers as the dental community are often much less that six steps away from one another in your area.
You would never share connections you have with someone on your resume – there’s no section for “Things We Have in Common” – unless it just happened to be that they know someone you worked for or you went to school with someone they know. But with your cover letter, there’s nothing wrong with pointing something like this out so long as it’s not the focal point and you’ve clearly established your qualifications in the paragraphs above it.
Hopefully by the time you are in an interview setting with a potential employer you’ve really done your homework and are ready to share some connections. Think carefully how you will bring things up, but it’s pretty common for employers will ask you to begin by telling them about you. That’s a great place to drop something in like “enjoy mountain biking” if you know the dentist does ahead of time. It goes without saying that honesty does factor so if you really are not in to mountain biking then don’t offer it up – it may come back to bite you!
For the most part, you want to limit your discussion about things in common to the initial ice-breaking or perhaps at the end when you are wrapping things up. Let the interviewer guide the discussion, you will get a clear sense of whether it means much to them and can dive deeper into the discussion or if you should move on to something else. Some people are simply very private and will not acknowledge a connection and that’s okay because in even though you may not see them react positively, they may be doing so inwardly and that’s just as important.