You’ve probably heard of and even assembled a short list of references to go with your dental hygiene resume, but there’s a better way called a Testimonial Sheet that I’ve been advising hygienists about for some time now.
References have always been important. Lots of influence research backs up the impact of having someone else talk about how great you are as it’s given higher value than anything you include on your resume.
But what’s the most powerful way to present it?
Traditionally, job seekers provide it one of two ways, on a separate sheet or at the bottom of their resume. This typically includes their top three contacts (name and phone number) or a reference to the references that says something like “References available upon request.”
I’m not going to totally dismiss those practices as they are fine. But I can’t endorse them as the best way, so for my clients I suggest a different direction called a Testimonial Sheet.
The Testimonial Sheet
The Testimonial Sheet is a series of short quotes from patients, co-workers, and employers (both current and former) that attest to how great you are. One of the biggest advantages they offer is that an employer doesn’t have to take the time to call anyone. Anytime you can save someone time, you are gaining in favor-ability with them.
There’s several elements to creating an effective Testimonial Sheet:
- Keep Them Short: I recommend two or sentences at most. Sometimes as many as five can be appropriate and effective if it tells of an experience, but you risk the employer not wanting to read though it if it’s too wordy.
- Keep it to one Page: Similar to your resume, keeping the Testimonial Sheet to one page has greater likelihood they will read them all. One page should hold eight to 10 testimonials
- Quantity: You can’t have too many. I’ve been collecting them for about 10 years now and have pages and pages of them, organized by year. Once I started thinking about them, it was amazing how I had missed so many over the years. You are probably getting lots of feedback and just not thinking that much of it.
- Quality: When choosing which ones to use, pick the ones that are simple and easy to read and assemble a collection of them that talk about you in different ways and not say the same basic thing each time.
- Consistent Design: There need not be an elaborate design for a Testimonial Sheet. Just make it look similar to your cover with a simple heading “Testimonial Sheet” at the top using the same font and a consistent size with your resume and cover letter.
- Anonymity of References: If you don’t feel comfortable disclosing the name of someone you are quoting you can probably get away with it in one or two places but you really should include as many as possible.
- Hybrid Reference Contacts: Some hygienists don’t really have a lot of quotes. That’s okay, but start collecting them as much as possible. If someone says something nice to you about your skills ask if you can keep that as a quote. Until you have a full sheet of them, it would be perfectly fine to include what you do have with the traditional list of references and contact information.