I get asked a lot about the length of a dental hygiene resume – should they be one page? Two? Or are three acceptable?
My answer is: It depends, but in most cases one page is absolutely best.
Today I will share the reasons and exceptions for a one-page dental hygiene resume, and tips on how to keep it to one page.
3 Reasons for Keeping it to One Page
Most of the time, if you are simply seeking a clinical dental hygiene position, and even for lots of other dental industry jobs or when your experience is limited, it makes sense to keep it to one page. But here are the three main reasons:
- More likely to get read: There are lots of demands on employers time and, with few exceptions, reading through a stack of 50-100 resumes doesn’t offer much excitement. So one of the best ways to ensure yours gets read or at least scanned is if it’s all on one page.
- Not necessary – I’ve written hundreds of dental hygiene resumes and very very few of them needed that second page – in fact, I would say its maybe about one percent. Sometimes we get into the mentality of thinking more is better, but what you would put on page two is not going to seal the deal for you.
- The type of resume – The most effective style of resume for clinical dental hygiene positions is called a functional resume, where you highlight your skills and experience ahead of your work and education history. The functional style of resume lends itself much better to efficiency with space, by avoiding the repetition of putting the same list of tasks or duties down for each dental hygiene job you’ve had. Having said that, there are instances where the style, called chronological or even a hybrid between those two, make more sense and you tell a better story with them. But for the most part functional is best.
Exceptions to the One-Page Rule
The career path for the average dental hygienist is to work in a clinical setting, keep up with some CE here and there and that’s about it. Some, however, enjoy really diving in deep with their local association or component, serving in leadership capacities, educating other hygienists, and even getting into some political advocacy on behalf of the dental industry. To each there own.
But there are a select number of dental hygiene jobs that require more than just clinical work and as such, a resume applying for those jobs should be more inclusive and rich with things such as association involvement, articles published, research performed, etc. Some sales positions may seek more documentation of your ability to influence patients toward greater compliance or more of a background in areas tied with what takes place in the front office.
There are lots of different potential scenarios and each job seeker needs to consider their background and what they want from their career carefully to help decide if that second page is helpful.
How to Keep it to One Page
- Use a Functional style of resume – The functional style of resume really is efficient with space and I think actually lets you highlight things that are truly most important more prominently. With any style you begin with your name and contact information at the top, followed by a brief (1-3 sentences) About Me statement, then go right into a list of your Skills and Experience before ending with your Work and Education history. But that Skills and Experience section is your opportunity to share results you have achieved for your employer and any unique abilities or skills you have.
- Only need to include the basics – You really only need to include these four key sections: About Me; Skills & Accomplishments; Work Experience; and Education. Sure, if space permits and you have more to share then do it. But focus on including things that are unique. I think dental-related awards and volunteer work are ideal things to include. Memberships or “References Available Upon Request” just aren’t as meaningful. And believe me, I love associations (I’ve spent my entire career in marketing and communications working for them), but being a member isn’t nearly as meaningful as being an active participant on your resume.
- Bullets and not paragraphs – Your About Me statement at the top of the page is the only place I would recommend including a paragraph or narrative. Simply put, employers are far less likely to read a lengthy paragraph as they are a list of bullets. We as humans love lists – they are easier to digest, generally more succinct, and simpler for a person reading your resume to scan. So use lots of short bullets.