I think we agree that your name and contact information are the most important pieces of dental hygiene resume content you have.
So let’s talk this week about the next most – the stuff employers really want to know. I call this information your EARS, which stands for Experiences, Accomplishments, Results, and Solutions
Too many hygienists focus their content on a different kind of content that is a close cousin, called “duties.” Don’t get me wrong, duties and responsibilities are the necessary part of what you do. The problem is they are what most hygienists do (at least those in a clinical setting).
If you are simply listing resume content that most dental hygienists do, how are you distinguishing yourself? The goal with your resume is to share with employers ways in which you are different or unique. Instead of explaining what you do, explain how well you did it.
Creating EARS Resume Content
I know it’s easy to wrap yourself up in the day-to-day routine of your job and not even think about how well you are actually doing it. And many offices run hygienists pretty ragged trying to keep up.
But you really owe it to your career to track your EARS. They are the lifeblood of great dental hygiene resume content.
So, as I have said in previous articles, keep an accomplishments journal where you can document your experiences, accomplishments, results and solutions. Make it a priority and goal to record things on a regular basis. I will let you determine what regular means, but I think if you are doing it once a month you may be forgetting some things and/or some rich detail.
EARS not only makes for great dental hygiene resume content, it’s even better for job interviews. In job interviews you have a better opportunity to provide the depth and breadth of your EARS, demonstrating once again how great you are.
Breaking Down the EARS
Every day at work (even in dental hygiene school clinics) you are having experiences. Often, we discount them as incidental occurrences that don’t mean much. And, yes, some are routine and not noteworthy. But watch for experiences that are unique. Maybe it’s an overly-anxious patient, or an angry patient, or a mother who insists on holding her baby during an exam. How did you handle the situation?
How you handled it helps shape your personal brand and gives you some great interview and resume content. For example, include a line in your resume about your “uniquely skilled at educating patients about good at-home oral health care.” Then, in your job interview, give the employer specifics of your “unique” approach and how it’s worked.
I have noticed over the years that lots of hygienists have great resume content that falls under the category of acknowledgments or accomplishments. But they are often earned and given while you are in college. This includes scholarships, academic success (such as earning a spot on the Dean’s list), or perhaps awards like Hue-Friedy’s “Golden Scaler Award.”
Those are all great and deserve a spot on your resume. But I hope your desire for achievement extends to your professional life as well. College awards and honors are more frequent, but there are other ways to be accomplished.
Many of you get extra training above and beyond what is required. That’s a noteworthy accomplishment and shows that you constantly strive to improve (a skill employers want). I have a few clients who are writing articles for trade publications about subjects they are passionate about. That, too, is great resume content.
Others get involved in their local association on a leadership level or by performing all kinds of great community service. These have merit and value, so find opportunities to do things outside your day-to-day job and add them to your list of accomplishments.
Results and Solutions
I know some of you detest the thoughts of numbers, such as production figures. However, it is a fact that employers need sufficient production numbers to keep their doors open (and you employed). I believe strongly that taking care of the patients first will naturally result in great revenues and production.
Money can become the focus for some employers, and so you want to watch for that as a red flag. Whenever that happens, I would contend that the business will never reach it’s potential because the patient has to come first. Consider finding a practice more aligned with your professional values.
With that in mind, however, production goals and numbers do serve a useful purpose in helping patients achieve the best oral health. You aren’t selling snake oil as a dental hygienist, you are selling them on habits and products that will quite literally save their life.
Results and solutions you get as a hygienist are highly-influential resume content. Most offices have goals. Did you reach your personal goals (or even team goals)? Was it your idea to save a few thousand dollars on supply management? Did you introduce a recall program that improved retention rates? This is all great content to share.
Some results and solutions are more patient specific, but just as powerful so tell those stories, also. A couple of common examples might be the detection of cancerous growth or perhaps helping a patient with tobacco cessation.
Don’t feel bad if you have yet to launch into the tracking of your EARS, but start soon. EARS resume content is a lot of what employers are looking for and you probably have a lot of it. Certainly enough to land a great dental hygiene job.