One year ago today, were you happy with your job or was 2016 supposed to be the year you got something better? Now, think ahead, what do you want one year from now – to still be thinking about making a move or to have done it?
The week between Christmas and New Years Day is perfect for career reflection. A lot of the busy-ness and stress are over and you are coasting into a fresh start. But don’t coast into 2017 without a career plan and goal.
Let’s get really intentional with your career moves in 2017 so you aren’t reflecting on what COULD have been in 2017. Here are five steps to help you take action and make the move that may change the course of your entire life, or at the very least your career. Leave the regrets of 2016 behind and let’s get this train moving in a direction YOU want.
Step 1: Clearly Identify Your Market
Get really clear on the offices or companies you want to work for. It could be a geographic area or it could be offices you have hand-picked. It’s really important to create a clear target because all of your efforts to market yourself to those employers can become much more organized, precise, and efficient. If you start with a bigger list (say more than 100 offices) that’s okay. You will likely narrow it some as you go.
Put that list into a spreadsheet program, including the name of the practice or company, address, email address, website and social media addresses, maybe even a key contact or two that either works for that office or has some other connection to them. If you need help generating a list of offices in your area, let me know and I can point you to some resources for that.
As I mentioned above, refinements to the list will come so think of this is a living document that evolves. New offices will open, and others will close. Additional connections with key people will be made. Make notes about each office as you go because this is too important to simply trust to your memory.
Step 2: Create Your Printed Materials
There are several printed materials you need for a successful career move. Most think a resume will be enough. Maybe it was about 20 years ago, but you really need to do more to stand out. So here’s a list of things to create:
- Business Cards: Just get an inexpensive set that matches your postcard and resume (you can see samples of how I did that here).
- Postcards: For clinical dental hygiene, these will take your job search to a more pro-active level.
- Resume: Make sure it’s different (in a good way) – that it grabs attention is succinct and easy for an employer to find what they are looking for.
- Cover Letter: Even if an employer doesn’t ask for one, include it. It’s a nice summary or way to introduce yourself and connect with employers in a way a resume simply can’t. And, if others aren’t providing one, you have just created an additional way to stand out.
- Testimonial Sheet: It’s one thing for you to say how great you are, but far more convincing when others are saying it. Testimonial sheets are a fantastic way to show you are the type of job seeker that goes the extra mile.
- CAR Sheet: Employers are influenced by stories and examples and if you can give them actual ways in which you have made a difference, you’ll be hard to ignore. CAR sheets paint a more clear picture of who you are as an employee.
- Thank You Cards: Have these ready to send out when you complete an interview. Most won’t send them, so when you do it demonstrates you value customer service and the experience patients get when they have you as their hygienist.
- Post-Interview Summary: This is yet another way to stay at the top of an employer’s mind once the interview is over. It’s a great reminder of your strengths and how you are the perfect match for them.
Step 3: Create Your Digital Materials
Employers like being able to find more information about you – studies show that more than 90% will “Google” your name. Rather than have them stumble on to something you don’t want them to find or to confuse you with someone else with your same name, give them a place online to learn more about you that YOU control. Here are a few suggestions:
- Personal Website: It’s very inexpensive to create a personal website and that’s why more and more hygienists are doing it. It’s a form of career posturing and positioning. Employers will see the extent of your professionalism. Moreover, a personal website demonstrates that you are current with the times, tech-savvy, and take your career very serious (all of which are things they want in new employees).
- LinkedIn Profile: LinkedIn is an easy (and free) way to create a digital professional footprint. Of all the social media platforms, LinkedIn is the career-oriented one. It also gives you some additional tools for connecting with other professionals, performing job searches, and receiving professional endorsements of your skills. I offer an over-the-phone training to help educate hygienists about all the tools LinkedIn offers so let me know if you are interested in that.
- Facebook & Twitter: Both Facebook and Twitter are also great ways to show employers you are serious about dental hygiene. Sure, lots of people use them strictly for social purposes, but if a potential employer finds your Facebook page it’s a good idea to have them seeing you share things that show you have a passion for dental hygiene. Along with your personal page, you can create a unique Facebook page for the purposes of your career – see what I created for my wife Tracie here.
- YouTube: Have you ever thought about creating a video resume? You can create them with or without actual video, but they too can be very effective at engaging a potential employer in what it is that makes you different. Here is my wife’s original resume video and a sample one I created for her that is more of a slide show. Don’t judge, they are a little old, but you will get the spirit of what we accomplished with them.
Step 4: Practice Your Interview Skills
Job interviews are intimidating. But if you spend lots of time preparing, you can actually become quite good at them. Rehearse and practice what your responses will be to some of the most common questions. I would suggest that you practice answering each question a good dozen times so you REALLY know what you want to say and can rattle if off without the “ums” and other awkward pauses. Use your phone or some other device to record yourself so you can see how you sound and make adjustments, same goes with practicing in a mirror.
Prepare yourself mentally by creating a routine and a plan (when you will leave, how you will get there, and things to bring with you such as the office phone number in case you are late) so you aren’t thrown off by unexpected things. Practice some deep breathing techniques to slow your pulse down while you are waiting to be interviewed. Channel the neocortex (or rational) part of your brain and learn to relax your amygdala (the “fight or flight” side).
The more relaxed you are, the better you will be able to focus on and note potential red flags in both the interview and in the office culture and environment. And be ready to ask some good questions of the interviewer – not to put them on the spot but to show them you are serious about your career.
Step 5: Launch Your Campaign
Once you have all your materials lined up and ready to go, start applying to jobs as they get posted on Craigslist and other job posting boards in your area.
Okay, that’s the obvious part.
But take it step further, by sending out a set of postcards to your target list of practices (if you are seeking a clinical position). Then jump into some networking, both in-person (through component meetings) and online through groups, forums, and LinkedIn connections.
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. The secret to networking, however, is in what you can do to help others. When you get out and help others solve problems they have (even very very minor), they will feel compelled to help you.
And the final piece of advice I can give is to never give up. Job searches can be very discouraging at times – you have to remind yourself of that. For every good day, there’s a disappointing day. Everyone gets rejected for jobs (usually lots of them). Sometimes it can be a blessing in disguise, but the main thing is to keep plugging away at it – there is a job out there for you but it may not be open just yet.
I almost hate to put numbers on it because it can be so vastly different from individual to individual, depending on a wide variety of circumstances. However, it’s very normal for a job search to take 30-90 days. If it’s taking you longer than this, then consider that you may not be putting in the required effort or doing the types of things that make the biggest difference.
What are those? Well, pretty much everything in this article and even more (see my FAQs page). I’ve covered a lot of ground, but keep in mind there is lots more you can and should try do. Every week I get in 2017 I am going to get into the nitty-gritty details of these things. I will be there for your every step of the way – if you doubt that, see what my former clients say.
If there’s something mentioned in this article you are unsure of or have questions about contact me. If you feel overwhelmed or don’t think you have the time or skill set to do some of these things, then hire me to do it for you.
There’s no shame in it – everyone has different schedules and abilities – sometimes you just need a pro or a little extra help to land a great dental hygiene job.
Now, take action – make 2017 the year you make the move. Get out of the crappy job and into something that is more meaningful to you. Read. Set. Go!