There are lots of different ways you can create a dental hygiene resume – I have reviewed and created hundreds of examples over the years.
But there’s a basic formula and method for organization that works particularly well for dental hygienists.
The most common resume type for professionals in other industries is called a reverse chronological format. The key difference between all formats is how and where you emphasize your work history. With the reverse chronological you list your work experience near the top (just beneath your summary or about me statement), beginning with your most recent job and ending with your oldest job (or at least the oldest you want to share). Then for each job you list accomplishments, experiences, and duties.
But that format doesn’t work as well for dental hygiene, simply because most clinical dental hygiene jobs share a very similar list of experiences – so it’s repetitive to list the same things for each clinical dental hygiene job you’ve had. Furthermore, with a reverse chronological format you only have so much room beneath each job listing (usually 3-5 bullets worth).
There’s a better way for dental hygienists, and it’s called a functional format.
So this week, I am going to give you the sections and locations for a functional style resume.
The most important information is your name and contact information, right at the top, called a Header. Make your name bigger so it really stands out (24-30 pt font). Add some color and graphics (possibly your picture) to really make it pop.
Next, I advise clients to create a section header called “About Me” or something similar. Traditionally, this has been labeled “Objective” – but that’s antiquated. Everyone knows your objective – it’s to get a job. About Me, has you telling them in one (maybe two) sentences what the employer will get when they hire you – your personal brand (to set yourself apart from others). Some might also call it your “elevator pitch.”
Experience & Skills
The next section is your Experience and Skills section. This is where you detail out and back up what you said in your About Me section. The tendency is to use this section simply list duties, which is okay, but see if you can mix in some accomplishments or results you have achieved for the offices you have worked for. If you do list duties, spice them up so that with each duty you are answering the question “why you should hire me.”
You can also use it to list any specialized training not every hygienist has that is useful to a potential employer. For example, if you have been trained to use diode lasers, then include it. If you have training and experience working with people with special needs, add it.
The next section, (Work History) is where you list your employers. Start with the current. List the practice or doctor name, city they are located in, and your job title (so they know it wasn’t a dental assisting or other job), then finish with the years you worked there (2000 to Present or 2008 to 2011). Repeat for each job you care to list.
You can list dental assisting jobs or other jobs outside clinical dental hygiene to help show a more complete history. The two big things employers look for are gaps in your employment history (years you were not employed) and to see if you have hopped around to a lot of different jobs or if you have stayed for longer periods of time.
The next section is your education. Similar to your work history, you should list your education history in reverse chronological order. List the institution name, location, degree obtained and then the year you graduated. You could even list any awards you got while in school if space permits, but the further you are removed from those experiences the less impressive it is.
If you got your hygiene education then, years later, went back and received significant other training (I’m mostly thinking of anesthesia), then you should add that too.
If there’s still room you can create a final section called Community Service or Related Participation and Recognition. Here you would list things like volunteer service or work you have done as a member of your local or national association. Or maybe, you’ve published industry articles or been honored with some recognition.
What NOT to Include
Unless you are really desperate to fill up space, don’t bother with the following:
- “References available upon request”
- License and certification information
- (Big no-no) Hobbies or information about your family situation or where you grew up