Easy question: What’s the most important part of any written document?
Easy answer: The top!
For obvious reasons, the top of your resume is the most important one-third of the paper. That’s where our human eyes are trained to go first – so what you put up there should appear perfect and balanced. It’s the starting line for an employers eyes to stroll (in many cases, a sprint!) down through the rest of your information to the bottom.
The top of your resume usually includes three or four key elements: Your name, contact information, a picture of you (which is optional), and a summary statement (traditionally called an “Objective”). But take note, the traditional Objective section has changed in the last 10 years and many professional resume writers (myself included) are no longer taking the same approach.
Your most important task as a job seeker is to differentiate yourself from other job seekers. You don’t want to be perceived as just another applicant in any profession. But for dental hygienists its even more critical – your job market is one of the most competitive out there. Preaching to the choir, right?
Everything you do – your resume and other materials to your dress and how you respond to questions – should have that goal of being different in mind. If not, you could be missing out on the best job of your career.
The space at the top of most dental hygiene (and other) resumes is wasted on a tired, over-used statement about “furthering my career as a dental hygienist” or something similar. That’s a nice objective, unfortunately everyone’s statement is the same and so employers gain nothing from it.
New Section Title
Instead, re-label the section “About Me” or “About Jennifer” and then really talk about you (more on that below). What sounds more interesting, enticing and friendly, Objective or About Me? This will help to draw the employer into your world in a non-threatening, relaxed manner. It’s also become a much more accepting phrase for offering a basic introduction to people, places and things, thanks to the Internet. One added bonus to changing your section title is that 90-95% of all the resumes out there are still using the word “Objective” so an “About Me” gives you an immediate differentiation from nearly every applicant.
New Section Content
The term “elevator pitch” is used to describe a very short verbal statement that describes who you are or what you do (or both) in the time it takes to enter and exit the elevator from a very short distance (one or two floors). In sales, everything is truncated so that you can impart and influence someone quickly. Think of your About Me content as a type of elevator pitch.
Craft your About Me into a statement that helps an employer quickly begin to know, like and trust you. Obliterate all thoughts of the old objective statement – the employer already knows it’s your objective to work for them (that’s obvious). What they really want to know is who you are and here’s how you do it:
- Keep it short. One to two sentences in most cases, and somewhere between 35 and 50 words. If you get too wordy they won’t read it.
- Devote the first sentence to the type of clinician you are for patients; and then the second sentence to the type of employee/co-worker you are for your boss. So long as technical qualifications are met (you are licensed and experienced), those are the two most important considerations for an employer.
- Include a flavor for your personal brand – two or three things (adjectives) that make you especially unique or different (there’s that word again). Here’s a list of more than 100 positive adjectives you can use to describe yourself.
- Use an active as opposed to passive voice to help conserve words and drive straight to your points. Here’s a quick explanation of active vs. passive writing.
- Finally, one alternative, or possibly an add-on to the statement is to share a story of why you became a hygienist. Stories are both engaging and can give readers great insight into you. Just keep it very short (one sentence) and with a point, then go into the type of clinician your are for the second sentence and the type of employee you are for the final sentence.
Well, if you are still struggling to figure it out, here’s a couple samples to get you going:
Example One: “As an experienced and friendly dental hygienist, I am confident and committed in my skill and ability to leave patients smiling and appreciate a work environment where I’m surrounded with an awesome team of fun and hard-working dental professionals.”
Example Two: “I became a dental hygienist because I loved how I felt after visiting my hygienist – I always left with a great smile. Now I enjoy doing the same for others, sharing my love for oral health with a dedicated group of compassionate professionals.”