Nothing will kill your chances at a job faster than a resume riddled with mistakes. In fact, when dental employers have so many applicants it becomes an easy way to weed several out – don’t be one of them!
I read through and create lots of dental hygiene resumes and there are three specific areas you should watch for that are common mistakes I find.
But first, keep in mind, no one is perfect. Even a practiced resume writer needs to edit and re-edit a resume, and it’s important to have more than one set of eyes reviewing them.
So here’s my top three to watch for and a great tip for helping you more easily spot mistakes.
1. Misspelled Words and Incorrectly Styled Words
Spell check is a great tool, so pay attention to words and phrases that get flagged. But that’s not all – sometimes spell check won’t catch words that are misspelled for what you intend them for. These are called homonyms and homophones (example: sea and see; or meat and meet; or too and to).
Spell check will also incorrectly catch dental-industry terms and product names. Industry terms will throw you off as they are not always found in spell-checkers. Periodontics is one example of that (at least using some spell checkers don’t know what it is). Usually, a spell checker does allow you to add words, so if it bothers you then add it otherwise just be aware of it.
And product names are very often not spelled the way they sound, or they will use some combination of unique styling (upper and lower case letters, and hyphens). DIAGNOdent is a great example of that. You would be technically correct to write this caries-detection tool Diagnodent on your dental hygiene resume, but if you really want to appear like you know the product well (and you probably do) then write it the way the manufacturer does, which is upper case “DIAGNO” running into the lower case “dent” – DIAGNOdent.
Some dental hygiene resumes I review have all kinds of inconsistencies. It’s really noticeable and a bit distracting because it shows there are some details that just aren’t getting enough attention. And, of course, a dental employer wants a new hire that can pay attention to detail.
So here are some questions to ask yourself as you edit your dental hygiene resume for consistency:
- Are your bullets all matching in terms of size, color, and shape? Don’t use a standard bullet in one section and diamond-shaped bullet in another. Pick one style and run with it throughout (that goes for color and size, too).
- Do you use the same typeface (font) and size throughout? This is a really common mistake as some people will copy and paste text from one document to another and that can cause that new fonts get introduced into your document. Make sure fonts are the exact same throughout the resume. One possible exception would be to use a slightly different one for your name at the top to give it some style, but I wouldn’t even recommend that. And then make sure they are all the same size except for your name – definitely want that in a larger size.
- How about at the end of bullet statements – do you use a period on some and others not?
- What about spacing between lines? Extra white space is good, just make sure it matches.
- Is the resume’s design consistent? Are you consistently applying the use of color, and graphics (lines and boxes) throughout the document?
3. Properly Placed Tenses
We tend to keep our resumes for many years and as such when we come back to it after a period of time, sometimes tenses aren’t accurate anymore. For example, if at your previous job you had oversight of a dental hygiene staff you would want to say something like, “Oversee productive and cohesive team of three hygienists.” But when you change jobs the tense would need to change to “Oversaw” instead of “Oversee.”
It’s really surprising how often that little mistake isn’t caught. But, again, it’s just a matter of taking some time to thoroughly review your resume before you send it out. Don’t assume it reads fine now just because it read fine even just a couple years ago. Things change and you probably owe it to yourself make sure more than just the tense is current.
Quick Editing Tip
A great editing tip for resumes (and writing in general) is to read statements and paragraphs within the resume backward.
Over the course of our early adolescent and adulthood years, we train our brains to become incredibly efficient at processing text. We look for shortcuts and ways to synthesize the messages we read at the expense mechanics (grammar and spelling). But, when you read text backward you are forced to shift that focus on the flow and instead can more intently evaluate the words themselves.
Beyond that, seek out a friend or hired professional review your resume. It’s really important that your resume is accurate and consistent. The competition is so fierce for dental hygiene jobs – you really owe it to your career and all the time you have invested in it to make sure simple things such as typos aren’t tripping you up from landing a great dental hygiene job.