A really common question I get about dental hygiene resumes is how long they should be. And I always say it depends on what your objective is and a how much experience you have.
Obviously, a new graduate is going to have limited content and experience to include. While a 30-year veteran will likely have loads of things to write about.
But I have also found that even new graduates who have been ultra-active and varied in their experience can fill out a resume quite nicely. On the flip side, I have seen professionals with several decades of experience that are limited in resume content.
What I have learned is that it really does pay to stay active in your career. Not just showing up every day but really diving into it. Understanding and articulating how you have impacted lives, kept up with the latest trends, and what you have done for your employers.
Those who are active, have lots of rich resume content and find it easier to land jobs.
Here are my thoughts on an appropriate resume length for you.
Clinical Dental Hygiene Resumes
If you are targeting a clinical dental hygiene position, 99% of the time I am going to recommend that you keep it to one page. Simply put, dental practice employers get lots of resumes for hygiene positions. I have heard reports of anywhere from 30 to 80 applicants.
They really don’t have time to read everything on every resume. I have also heard reports of some practices automatically rejecting anything more than a page as a means of quickly filtering resumes.
Why would they pick on the lengthy resumes? I have heard it’s because they fear the applicant is over-qualified (wants a higher wage) or because the applicant isn’t as adaptable (set in their ways).
I would estimate that 75% of the resumes I receive from potential clients are longer than one page. I would also informally guess that 90% of those could easily get it down to one page with some efficient use of space.
My philosophy on all resumes is to hit the reader hard with a design flow that is efficient, grabs attention, holds it, and pulls them through with excellent accomplishment-oriented content. One page is perfect for that.
Lots of dental professionals are ready to get out of clinical work. Depending on the kind of experience you have and the type of job you are seeking, a one-page resume can also work quite nicely.
However, if you have lots of different kinds of work experience – outside of dental hygiene – two pages might make more sense. For example, if you have worked as a clinical hygienist, as a practice manager, and perhaps one other non-clinical position, then you are possibly going to need a couple pages to cover the details.
You may also want a lengthier resume if you are using it to land some type of upper-level position. For example, a dental hygiene program director at a school might need to show extensive clinical, academic, and leadership qualifications to get the job.
Or, perhaps, you have lots of amazing experience and background that qualifies you for an upper-level position. However, you want to land a simple clinical job and so showing off the extensiveness of your background may actually hurt your chances of landing a simple clinical position.
So what this all boils down to is aligning your resume with your objectives. What is going to get your foot in the door in the form of an interview? What is going to make the employer feel comfortable that you are the right fit?
I think most of the time a one-page resume is going to perform well, regardless of your experience and background. So if you are unsure about your career path, see if you can make it fit on one page.
If your content is a little longer than a page, don’t sweat it too much. Just put your least important information on page two and print the document front and back – no staples – to help improve your odds against employers wanting only one page.
I always say, no one ever got hired from page two of their resume. Your best stuff is on page one, it’s what makes the case for you getting an interview and eventually hired.
Doug Perry is an expert resume writer and job search coach. He and his wife, Tracie, who is a dental hygienist, created GetHiredRDH in response to the challenging dental hygiene job market and have helped thousands of dental hygienists through tips and individual services. If you need individual, click here to contact Doug.