Unfortunately, dental hygiene job offers don’t come as easy as they used to. A couple decades ago hygienists were in the driver’s seat in a job hunt and wouldn’t think twice about turning down an offer with a not-so-great practice.
While choices are more limiting today, it’s still your call to accept or reject a job offer. And you should take it seriously – the job you accept may pay well, but is still not the best decision for you.
Here’s my four “P”s for evaluating job offers. Even if you aren’t considering an offer, this is great criteria for a job you already hold.
What to Watch for: Try to determine if the office has a high employee turnover rate. You can often casually ask staff you come in contact with how long they’ve worked there – it’s a common small-talk type question as long as it’s not the first thing you bring up.
The people you work with are really important to your overall job satisfaction. If it doesn’t feel like you would click with the personalities you meet during the interview process, consider your decision carefully. Every office has some drama and different personalities, but if the “crazies” are running the office it may not be the best fit for you.
The Goal: Join an office that focuses more on patients than revenue.
What to Watch for: Sometimes the salary structure can tip you off, if it’s heavily-laden with bonuses, quotas, goals and benchmarks, and if that seems to dominate the doctor or office manager’s discussion with you – more so than building relations and caring for patients – this might be a sign of an office that lacks a solid purpose.
Some people are comfortable with that kind of atmosphere. But I am a big believer that profits will take care of themselves the better you serve patients. If your office just absolutely bends over backward to ensure every patient gets personalized attention (even the fussy-difficult ones), they will sense it and help you grow the practice just by word of mouth.
And a word about “fussy” people – I have also found that I have grown and benefited more from working with them than any other personality type. Why? Because they challenge me and when I am challenged I get the opportunity to stretch myself more, learn new things and overall become more professional. Rising to the occasion and meeting the challenge will do that for you.
The Goal: Join an office that invests in technology and advanced learning.
What to Watch for: Ask them in your interview what kinds of equipment they have purchased recently and how they like it. You could even ask what their plans are for future investments. And, also, ask about any on-going training they offer the staff. Take note of how up-to-date the waiting room is and other aesthetics.
This, too, is important because an office that is not investing in new equipment, office cosmetics, or training can mean they are struggling to cover the costs they do have. Maybe they would like to do those things, but their patient load or collection rates are going south. This can, of course, create many potential problems for you as that lack of new business may lead to you getting laid-off or a reduction in hours.
The flip side, of course, would be an office that is over-spending on new equipment without being able to justify it with the current patient load. That’s a little bit harder to see, certainly a red flag if you sense it.
To stay viable, dental practices have to make continued capital improvements to equipment and invest in training. The competition is too stiff not to so it’s important to watch for any kind of history of steady investments in these areas.
The Goal: Join an office that has a strong upside.
What to Watch for: Talk to the interviewer about how long they have been in business and at that particular location. It may not be appropriate to ask about their production numbers, unless the job is commission-based or if they seem to want to be really transparent with you in a lot of different ways. But you want to try and determine if there is a flavor of optimism about the direction the business is going in.
You want to know that the business is not going backward but also not just staying the same year after year (staying the same is not much better than going down). This can manifest itself in many ways, but listen carefully about how the doctor or office manager talk about the future of the business – do they seem to not care or are a little pessimistic? Probably some red flags.
It’s not easy evaluating a potential job – probably much easier if you already work there. But the fact of the matter is, you have really try and understand the situation around you. Don’t get hung up on the peripheral stuff such as salary, where the office is and such. Be scrutinizing in these four areas of People, Purpose, Product and Potential and you’ll be more likely to land or stay in a place that meets career objectives and needs as a professional dental hygienist.