Finding a dental hygiene job can take months and even years in the current job market climate, depending on what kinds of things you do to market yourself. While you can’t always predict when you will need to search for a new job, there are lots of things you can do if you are in a position to prepare for it.
Whether you are preparing to graduate or are just planning your next career move, here’s a simple checklist to ensure you are doing all the right things to begin the search.
Your Target Market
Define the area you want to work in. Pinpoint a specific radius and create a spreadsheet with the name and address of every dental office within those boundaries. This is who you will concentrate your marketing on – your “target market”. If you don’t have time, hire someone on Elance.com or Fiverr.com to do it for you (could be as little as $20).
Define Your Brand
Decide how you want to “brand” yourself. For example, are you an experienced, easy-going, friendly, hard worker, tenacious, a great salesperson, exceptionally skilled at hygiene, flexible in terms of days or hours? Choose two or three things and hone in on them in the messaging on your resume, cover letter and other printed materials. But also have it become a part of what you say when people ask about you. This is how you position or differentiate yourself from others so you can stand out.
Locate the Place for Job Announcements
Studies show, three out of every four jobs that get filled were never advertised. There’s a huge secret job market you can only tap into through networking (both online and in-person – see below for tips on that). However, you can’t ignore positions that are advertised on job boards and other places. It’s important that you know where dental offices are posting job announcements where you live. There are lots of national job boards and local ones, too (see the list we have put together at GetHiredRDH.com).
Another resource is your local staffing agency – they, too, have job listings – and we have a list of those across the country at GetHiredRDH.com. Sometimes dental practices will use a staffing agency to setup several working interviews. So get connected and stay connected with your local staffing agency as a resource for openings.
Get Resume Kit Ready
Get your print materials ready go (this includes what we like to call your “resume kit” – the resume itself, cover letter, business card, a testimonial sheet, a CAR sheet. Create a stunning design that makes you stand out and look different than all the other resumes offices will get. You can see samples of these in our store at GetHiredRDH.com. For testimonial sheets, start collecting positive feedback you have received (verbally or in writing) from employers, co-workers and even patients. Because of HIPAA law you will need permission from patients or you could simply attribute the quote to “anonymous patient.”
Create a Postcard
Going door-to-door handing out resumes is very time consuming and can get kind of discouraging. Should you do it? Yes, if you have the time, but get your name out there first by sending a post card that can reach every office in your target market on the same day or staggered over several days. Then do follow-up visits as you have time. Design a post card that tells offices you are available to work on a temporary or permanent basis (we have templates or full custom design services to help you with the design and we recommend VistaPrint.com for the printing).
Build a Professional Online Presence
Find out if you need to do any online cleanup. Studies show, employers will Google your name before they decide to bring you in for an interview. What will they find? Give it a try yourself and see if there are any “skeletons” or things you need to remove. Google your name in the web browser standard search, but also image search. And, google the e-mail address you plan to use on your resume as some employers will try to learn more about you by searching your e-mail address too.
Create and prep your online presence, making sure your key branding messages are showing up prominently on a LinkedIn page at minimum. You also might consider creating your own website (yep GetHiredRDH.com can help you with this also). Or, maybe consider creating a Facebook page (independent of your personal page) as a professional profile page. You could also look to create a video resume to post about yourself online or a blog where you share your thoughts on dental topics.
More Online Strategy
If you are on Facebook or Twitter, start liking or following the pages of potential employers, this will give you some very valuable information about them and, who knows, maybe they will learn a little more about this new person that started liking them too. Start participating in Facebook and LinkedIn Group pages for dental hygienists (there are hundreds of them) – this is a great way to network and meet lots of peers.
Have you ever wondered how people get good at answering questions from the media? Repetition, anticipation, and more repetition are the secret ingredients. They first sit down and think through all the questions they might get asked, then they answer them on paper, then they practice their responses, over and over and over again until they get it exactly how they want it without sounding canned or rehearsed.
You don’t have to be a pro at it – most people interviewing are very sensitive about these situations and will be okay with you showing some “nerves” but the great thing about practicing so much is not only will your responses sound better, you will feel more confident too. And confidence is an attribute that is hard to overlook in any potential employee.
Make sure you have thought through how you will dress in your interviews and even have one or two go-to outfits that make you look and feel professional. Clothes don’t make the person, but there’s no doubt you can feel much more confident when you love what you are wearing.
Start attending conferences and monthly association meetings and bring your business cards along. Look for opportunities to sit next to people you don’t know and introduce yourself to them, but also sit with a few you do know as this will help you feel more at ease when you meet new people.