The last two weeks I wrote about the best format and length for a dental hygiene resume, this week let’s slice up the content and talk about sections to include (and a little bit of what to leave out).
Remember I mentioned that the best format for a dental hygiene resume is the Functional style – that’s the one that puts more emphasis on what you do well overall as opposed to what you did for each employer. And, as you will recall, the reason it works so well for dental hygiene is because clinical dental hygiene jobs are all very similar as compared to other career paths.
Sections to Include
A typical resume includes seven or eight sections of content, depending on the person:
- Objective and/or Summary;
- Skills and Experience;
- Work history;
- Education history;
- Community service;
- Membership participation
- and references
However, you really only need those first four listed. The others are interesting if you have them to include, but where you really sell someone on bringing you in for an interview is in those top four. So let’s talk about each.
Objective/Summary… Better Yet, About Me
Most traditional resumes call this top section beneath your name and contact information the Objective or Summary. I am okay with Summary, but Objective is very dated – old school for resume writing. However, I think the best label yet is I “About Me.”
I’ve talked about the About Me section extensively, so if you want to read more click here. Basically, the About Me section is your chance to immediately sell them on YOU. This is similar to an “elevator pitch” if you’ve ever heard that term. An elevator pitch is a short, prepared statement you would say to introduce yourself or describe what you do professionally in 30 seconds or less (the length of an average elevator ride).
The About Me section wouldn’t be about what you do – the employer already knows that – but rather includes things like how well you do it, why you do it, and things about your personality and focus they should know about you. It’s your personal brand, it’s who you are, it’s what’s unique about you as it pertains to your career.
Here are a couple examples:
Example One: “As an experienced and friendly dental hygienist, I am confident and committed in my skill and ability to leave patients smiling and appreciate a work environment where I’m surrounded with an awesome team of fun and hard-working dental professionals.”
Example Two: “I became a dental hygienist because I loved how I felt after visiting my hygienist – I always left with a great smile. Now I enjoy doing the same for others, sharing my love for oral health with a dedicated group of compassionate professionals.”
Skills and Experience
The next section I recommend is a bulleted list that describes not just what you do, but rather how well you do it. You could certainly put a list full of things you have experience with, patient education, working with Dentrix, infection control, etc. But it’s much better to describe how well you do them, and if you have some results to mingle those in. Here are some examples:
- Highly skilled patient education and presentation
- Working knowledge of Dentrix
- Meticulous in protocols of infection control
- Increased patient retention by 15% by creating new recall program
This is a much more engaging and interesting approach to what it is you do, and it helps strengthen in employers minds that you do your job well. The bullet aspect of it, helps make it less intimidating or burdensome on the employer to read and absorb.
Next up is the Work History section. And because of the Functional format I mentioned earlier, all this needs to be is a section that lists your employer, where they are located, what your job title was and the range of years you worked for them. Simple as that!
There are hybrid versions of resumes where you can include some unique things you did for that employer, but this is usually for when you have worked other jobs besides dental hygiene that you feel compelled to include.
Your Education History section is the last standard section, and follows a similar pattern to your Work History: Name of school, location, name of degree or certificate received, and year you graduated.
For some, it would be appropriate to list in this section either your GPA, awards or scholarships received, organizations you participated with, and maybe some community service you performed.
If you are all out of space for one page – great – that’s really all you need to include. But if you still have a little room, consider adding sections for community service, licenses and certifications, extensive specialized training, references, awards and recognition, articles you wrote, presentations you have delivered, and so on. The key to to make sure this information is relevant to dentistry.
What NOT to Include
There are some things you want to avoid putting on your dental hygiene resume, and I wrote in detail about that here. But in summary it would be non-dental things (unless the skill is transferrable), your address, your address, multiple phone numbers, family information, salary requirements (put those in your cover letter if requested), testimonials (put those on a separate document).
There may be others, but that covers most of what I see. Again, if it’s a clinical dental hygiene job you seek, keep it as close to dentistry and tenants of your job as possible.
I’ve also written about fonts, spacing, photos, and design in past articles – those, too, are important considerations. Next week, I will talk a little more about the proper language and writing for a dental hygiene resume. Until then, have a great week!