Are you ready to make 2016 the year you land a great dental hygiene job? If so, here’s a step-by-step summary guide of how to do it.
Collectively, these things will make a difference and you’ll stand out, so follow it as closely as you can. The clients I walk through these steps are finding jobs several weeks faster and so will you.
Step 1: Clearly Identify Your Market
Get really clear on the geographic area you are going to search within. Are there 50 offices or 450? It’s important to know exactly who you are selling yourself to. As time goes on you will hopefully be able to whittle it down some because, let’s be honest, not every office is a good fit for you for various reasons.
Put that list into a spreadsheet program, including the name of the practice, address, email address, website and social media addresses, and a place to make a note for each office. You can search all these out for yourself or you can hire someone to do it. I have a couple of great resources for that if you don’t have the time to take that on contact me.
As time goes on, refine the list. New offices will open, and others will close. Make notes about each practice you learn things about – some don’t have hygienists, others have several of them and multiple doctors. All this information comes in handy as job openings get posted.
Step 2: Create Your Printed Materials
There are several printed materials you need for a successful job search. 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: These will take your job search to a more pro-active level but create some that resemble your resume
- Resume: Make sure it’s different – that it grabs attention and is succinct
- Cover Letter: Even if an employer does not 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
- Testimonial Sheet: It’s one thing for you to say how great you are, but far more convincing when others are saying it.
- 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
- Thank You Cards: Have these ready to send out when you complete an interview.
- Post-Interview Summary: This is yet another way to stay at the top of an employer’s mind once the interview is over.
Step 3: Create Your Digital Materials
Employers like being able to find more information about you – studies show that more than nine out 10 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, give them a place online to learn more about you that you control. Here’s a few suggestions:
- Personal Website: It’s very inexpensive to create a personal website and all you need to include is basically what you put on all the printed materials above. It’s impressive and says to the employer that you have taken your job search and career seriously.
- LinkedIn Profile: LinkedIn is an easy (and free) way to create a digital 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 receiving professional endorsements of your skills.
- 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 about good oral health practices. You can also 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’s my wife’s original resume video and a sample one I created for her that is more of a slide show.
Step 4: Practice Your Interview Skills
Job interviews can be very intimidating. But if you spend lots of time preparing, you can actually become quite good at them. So, 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.
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 pay attention to and note potential red flags in both the interview and in culture and environment in the office. 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. Then jump into some networking, both in-person (through component meetings) and online through groups and forums.
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, 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 a jobs (usually lots of them). Sometimes it can be a blessing in disguise, but the main thing is you have to just keep plugging away at it.
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 it much effort or doing the types of things that make you stand out.
What are those? Well, pretty much everything in this article and much more (see my FAQs page). I’ve covered a lot of ground, but keep in mind there’s lots more you can and should do. Every week I get into the nitty-gritty details of each of these things to help guide you through it.
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.