Your dental hygiene resume is your most important career document – it’s the first impression most employers have of you. So, is your resume packed with a punch?
What you say is important, but so too is the space you use to say it, how you say it, what you don’t say.
Confused? Let’s discuss five points to positively packing your resume prose with power and punch.
Bullet points are a useful tool on resumes. They help keep your writing clean, short and succinct. They also help employers more quickly absorb your content. If you are using the full width of the page, try to keep them from wrapping onto a second or third line.
Remember, readers have a visual response before they read so the appearance of too much writing is a turn off. So cut the clutter as much as you can.
Cluttered: “Started a new patient program that included an office tour and sit-down meeting with myself and the doctor. We improved patient retention by more than 25 percent and overall production by 10%.
Tight: “Implemented new patient-orientation program, elevating retention by 25% and production by 10%.”
Writing that Jumps
In resume writing, you begin lines of information with a verb to jump-start mini statements about your accomplishments, results, and achievements. In the examples above, both “started” and “implemented” are good verbs to do this.
There are lots of great verbs you can use, depending on what information you want to highlight. Ideally, you should try to mix them up and not use the same ones for each statement to keep it interesting. Here’s a list of 500+ positive words you can use to do this.
You also want to make sure your writing is in an “active” voice as opposed to “passive.” Active is often the best format for writing marketing materials, but especially in resume writing. It requires fewer words, is more readable, and more quickly absorbed by the reader.
Active Example: “Created unique periodontal protocols replicated in many offices.”
Passive Example: “Created unique periodontal protocols that have been replicated in many offices.”
In the examples, you’ll notice the active voice is shorter. But notice the differences in wording. The passive example is a correctly worded sentence but meanders longer than necessary. It takes the reader on a scenic route, instead of a straight path.
In short, passive writing creates bulkier wording. Sometimes you may feel forced to go with a passive statement, but keep them to a bare minimum.
I’ve written often about the importance of knowing what an employer is looking for and then delivering it. Your cover letter and interviews are the primary places to do this but consider your resume, too.
Carefully review the job description and find the keywords of things they are seeking in a candidate. Then make sure your resume hits on them. You may need to modify a word or two, move some lines around, and swap things in and out. Don’t think of your resume as a static document – it should evolve and morph.
It goes without saying your resume should be error-free. No mistakes in grammar, punctuation or spelling. It’s sometimes hard to spot them, but there are grammarians everywhere so proof-read your resume many times.
It’s important to have one or two friends you trust to read it over. Or you can even hire someone to do it. There’s no shame in it. Even professional writers make mistakes and know the importance of a second pair of eyes.
And one more tip that might help. When proofing it yourself, read each statement and sentence backward. This forces your brain to focus on each word. Our brain is wonderfully-efficient, but when reading it sometimes fills in gaps or fails to notice mistakes subconsciously in an effort to read quickly.
Again, the words you use and how you use them matters. Your resume is the most important document of your career. Give lots of time, utilize the help of friends, or hire an expert so that you can land a great job.