Think of your dental hygiene job search the way Nike thinks about a new product. Granted, you are not shoes or apparel, and you aren’t trying to communicate who you are to millions (even billions) of people. Businesses like Nike have to stand out or they lose customers and money.
But, just like Nike, you have a brand and something to lose as well. Your brand is a promise of what an employer can expect if they hire you. Are you meticulous? Ultra-experienced? Great with special needs patients?
Let’s figure out your unique promise so you can differentiate yourself from other job seekers.
What Do You Think?
The first step is some introspection – take some time to think about and write down the type of person you are in three different settings. These settings can and will overlap (no one is entirely different in each setting). But when you begin to put them together, you will see your strongest attributes are those that fit within multiple settings. Here are the three settings:
- Individual – your strengths that show when you are not around others or when you work independently of anyone;
- Social – your strengths when you are relaxed with friends and family; and
- Professional – your strengths when you are working with others (both patients and co-workers).
Now organize your strengths, recognizing that some fit well in one circle, but not another or that fit in multiple circles (overlap). Those that overlap in at least two circles are the start of your brand. But you’re not finished yet. This still needs to be validated before you are ready to push it out there.
What Do Others Think?
“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” – Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon.
Now let’s finish by gathering some additional information. You need to know what your friends, family, and colleagues think your brand is. You might think, “My biggest strength is that I’m really team-oriented,” but if the feedback you get from others doesn’t match up then you probably haven’t captured your brand yet. The more people you talk to the more clear the picture will be. Once you begin to hear some of the same things from person to person, you can now merge that information with your self-evaluation and move to the next stage of the process – which is to prepare your materials (resume, cover letter, etc) and your in-person messaging (answering interview questions, body language, etc.).
To get this feedback from others, I would recommend you do it not only in an intentional way (setting up some time to talk about it with someone), but also in normal situations you find yourself in. For example, as you are working side-by-side with a colleague, interject where it seems natural one of your core perceived strengths – let’s say it’s to be more personable.
“Sandy was sure talkative today, it was hard for me to focus on talking to her about her flossing technique. I’m trying to be personable with her. What do you think I should do to be more personable?”
Using this approach, you open the door for some conversation about this strength and if it’s really is a skill you’ve mastered. The idea is to make the conversation completely non-biased and non-threatening to the person you are having it with, so they can feel it’s safe to be honest. Let them know you want to improve and if you need to they can feel comfortable sharing some things. If not, then you are probably right about it being a key strength.
Repeat this many times (and continue to do it throughout your career) and you will not only learn some things about yourself, but also become a better hygienist.
Once you have this information – even just a beginning foundation of a personal brand – it will help you sort through what is unique about you so you can communicate that in your cover letter, resume, and job interviews. Bonus points if you can tie this into what others say about you in the form of a testimonial sheet or if you can communicate simple examples of your work on a CAR Sheet – that will really backup and add huge strength to your personal brand!
So, what this boils down to is in how you write your materials, the way you describe things in person, the way they find more about your online (either through a personal website or LinkedIn profile), what others say about you, how you conduct yourself in interviews (formal and working) should be as consistent as you can possibly make it. Hone in on your brand strengths and it will be difficult to ignore when it comes to decision time for an employer.
Remember, branding is about selling your unique promise to an employer. Most job seekers won’t go to this length because it takes time. But when you don’t have a unique promise about you, you are essentially making it harder for a hiring employer. They won’t know what what to expect – you will appear to be an average candidate.
How Does a Personal Brand Make a Difference?
This approach will make you appear (and feel) more organized and confident, which are desired attributes in a job seeker.
But more important, employers want predictability when it comes to hiring someone. They want to know based on the brief introductions they have had with you that you are everything you claim to be. The more you can drive home your personal brand, the more confident they will feel in hiring you.
Employers will also make assumptions about you. If some of those assumptions include that you are well-organized in how you present yourself, they will make the assumption (and it’s probably true) that you will reflect this to their patients. “If she seeks to show a high level of professionalism in finding a job, then she will do the same at my practice,” might be one way an employer would think.
Summing it Up
Again, you have a personal brand – everyone does – but you may not be showcasing it nearly enough. Or maybe you are trying to share it, but there’s something that’s inconsistent about the whole package and this raises some red flags for employers.
Wherever you are at with it, take some time to really know your brand, organize it on paper, validate it through others, and take ownership of it by letting it show up consistently throughout your materials and presentation and this will strengthen your ability to land a great dental hygiene job.