I get this question all the time: “Can I just e-mail the Microsoft Word version of my dental hygiene resume?” My answer is, “No.”
Of course you can do anything you want – it’s not a protocol issue – and it may even work out fine to deliver your resume in Word format. However it’s not the best method.
Before I tell you the best way, let me also mention that the absolute best way to apply for a dental hygiene job is by hand-delivering your resume. That gives you the opportunity to have an interaction with that office and for them to see you are “normal” and maybe even “awesome.” People make judgements quickly and it’s rather easy to create a great first impression if you prepare for it.
However, it may not always be possible for you to drop it off in person, and some offices even request that you e-mail it only. Sometimes it’s because the person you may potentially replace, doesn’t know yet they are about to be replaced. It’s sad but true.
There are also some other ways that are bad for sending your resume, I’ll share those next and then finish with the best way.
What Not To Do
Most hygienists create their resumes using word processing software (often Microsoft Word on a PC and sometimes Pages on a Mac). Both do a great job in formatting resumes, but I strongly caution against sending a Word or Pages file and here’s why.
Your resume may open and look totally fine in lots of instances, but this will not always be the case on every computer. And since you don’t know when it will or won’t, it’s best to not send the source file. Different versions of these programs and different users will have different settings and fonts turning an otherwise beautiful resume into a complete, unreadable mess.
Most commonly, fonts are the issue. Fonts come in all shapes and sizes and when a computer doesn’t have the same font you used to create your resume it will try to replace it with something similar, which messes up the spacing, formatting and overall look you worked hard to create. This is not really your fault, but an employer won’t blame themselves, they will make assumptions about your tech-savy-ness or attention to detail – you won’t look good.
The Body of an E-mail
Another bad idea is to simply paste it in the body of an e-mail you send them. Will it work? Absolutely! Will it look good? Nope!
You can’t even make an e-mail look as good as the average resume. So you would be sending a sub-par resume design. In this competitive dental hygiene job market you will simply not get much (or any) attention sending it this way.
Sometimes it goes unnoticed in medical professions because many practices still use fax machines, but faxing is a dying form of communication.
They’re fairly reliable, but the big problem is in how they print. You can control what goes into the fax machine, but you can’t control how it comes out the other side. Sometimes there are paper jams, or faxes come out dis-figured and unaligned, or even toner can run out half way down the sheet leaving it faded and hard to read.
Fax machines also won’t print in color and can look quite pixelated. The bottom line is you simple can’t predict the outcome and so for that reason it’s not even worth trying.
The Best Method
So what’s the best way to e-mail your dental hygiene resume? There are only three letters you need to remember: PDF
PDF stands for Portable Document Format. After Adobe released it in 1993 it’s use spread like wildfire and was widely adopted as the standard for sharing documents. A PDF file can take a source document (from virtually any source – including Word and Pages for Mac) and create one standard file type that can be opened from any computer. This file type can’t be edited or changed by the person receiving it – the information is set in stone, sorta like a photo. So what you see is what they see.
In 2008 the PDF format became an open source product – meaning other companies besides Adobe could begin incorporating it into their software. So, for example, you can now create a PDF file right within the word processing software you are using – you don’t have to open up Adobe software to create it. This has further strengthened the use and prominence of PDF files.
But that’s not all, you can also find lots of free PDF-making websites. Just Google the terms “Free PDF online” and you will see several pop up. But the easiest and best way is through the software itself. In Microsoft Word it will show up as an option when you go to print your document – change the printer from the one you normally print to the PDF option and it will give you an additional option of where on your computer you want to save the file to.
Most important of all, however, is that the universal ability to open a PDF (called PDF Reader) has been around since the beginning (1993) and is included on all new computers. It’s not likely you will send a PDF document to a dental office and they won’t have the ability to open it (even right within their Internet browser where they retrieve their e-mail from).
It can be pretty stressful wondering if an office has received your resume, so where possibly always deliver it in person. But if that’s not an option, don’t send the source file, fax it or paste it into the body of an e-mail – send a PDF file and you can rest assured this is the best way.