A great dental hygiene resume is a lot like a healthy body – it needs a balanced diet of content to perform the way you want it to. It’s okay to feed it with a little bit of fluff, but the bulk of your resume food pyramid needs to be what employers are seeking.
So let’s talk about fruits and vegetables versus sugar.
The fruits and vegetables (including protein) of your resume are pretty simple. It should include the following headers (in this order):
- About Me
- Work History
- Education History
The top of your dental hygiene resume food pyramid is small but can include a variety of things. I have reviewed hundreds of dental hygiene resumes from clients and others and have seen lots of different things thrown in. Very little of it will make a difference for most employers, but some of it will help and some pieces of information are more helpful than others.
So, here’s eight extra things (healthier fat?) that won’t ruin your dental hygiene resume diet, as well as short list of extra “sugary” content to avoid.
Stick with just relevant (dental field) volunteer service. While other kinds of service are great and even interesting to know, a resume is designed to showcase your professional life and unless your volunteer service has complimented it or is related to dentistry it’s really not the right place for it. If you really want to include that kind of information, consider creating a website for yourself so you can add more in-depth information about you.
If you have received any kind of dental industry recognition (even just within your own office) that’s a great thing to include. By contrast, “Outstanding PTA Mom of the Year,” while really cool, probably wouldn’t mean much on your resume.
If you have served on any type of committee or held a leadership role at your local component/association this can be good information to include in that it signals you deep commitment to the profession. There’s another side to it as well that I was discussing with a hygienist the other day – there is, of course, some who could view that as a threat. Unfortunately, hygienists and doctors at times are at odds professionally and so a strong dental hygienist advocating for something a doctor views as a threat to his/her legislative position may or may not be something you want to boast of on your resume. In other words, exercise caution and understand the playing field.
Short List of References
You could provide the names and phone numbers of two or three references. I still think a testimonial sheet is better and more advantageous, but it’s helpful to have the actual names and phone numbers ready to go for an employer. It shows you are prepared and nothing to hide.
Articles You Have Written
Again, things that show a deep commitment to your profession can be great to showcase. Articles you have written about dentistry-related topics would be a good example of that.
It wouldn’t be out of line to include the current licenses you hold, including the number. This would allow an employer to verify your information without having to request it.
Non-Clinical Work Experience
A lot of hygienists ask about including prior dental assisting or front office experience. I think that’s great to include, if space permits. It shows you have deep experience within the profession and can relate to the rest of the staff.
What about non-dental jobs? This would depend on how much work history you have. If you are right out of school with no dental hygiene experience in your work history, it may be necessary to include your job at a local retailer, for example, to show you have worked for an employer before. Some jobs may be helpful in terms of giving you experience interacting with customers, sales, or even some technical skills. Evaluate your situation, keep your resume as dental-centric as possible.
Another common question I get is about non-dental hygiene education. I guess I can go either way on if you got a degree in English, for example, prior to dental hygiene. There’s sometimes lots of cross-over in professions, particularly if it’s health-related. I worked with a hygienist that was also a nutritionist – that’s very complimentary to dental hygiene and so I highly recommended she include it.
I would even go so far as to say, additional education or training can give you an advantage. You have that value-add to offer a practice. In your interview, you could say something to the affect, “Along with my background in dental hygiene, I’m also a licensed family therapist which I have found really helps me communicate effectively with patients.”
What Not to Include
Here’s a short list of fatty resume foods to keep your resume away from. If you really want to provide this information, again, I recommend a personal website where you can share more detail.
- Anything un-related or non-transferrable to dentistry
- “References available upon request” (everyone has references and of course they are available upon request – this is just a waste of ink)
- Hobbies (interesting but irrelevant)
- Marital status or number of children (way too personal)
- Your physical address (stick with e-mail and phone for contacting you)
- A list of all the CE classes you have taken (website works better for that, or alternatively, a separate document)
- High school you graduated from (you’re a college graduate, enough said)
- High school activities or recognition (a part of your past you can bring up later in conversation if asked)