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Richard Poulin is a resume writer who created Resume Hacking, a book series focused on resume advice tailored by profession.
To get hired as a dental hygienist, you need to show the world what makes you different. So how can you ensure your resume rises above the rest?
To get hired as a dental hygienist, you need to show the world what makes you different. See what you can discover from 100 of your peers’ resumes.
I’ve seen many, many dental hygienist resumes that were average. But only a few stood out. Read on to discover what made these resumes shine.
A bright future in healthcare?
We often hear that healthcare professions are on the rise. But despite some official statistics promising growth, many readers here often experience a quite saturated job market in dental hygiene.
Hopefully, things will indeed get brighter in a few years. But in the meantime, if you need a new position, you’ll have to work hard to stand out from your colleagues.
Obviously, a compelling resume is a must. And it does take a good deal of time and effort to craft it. But a strong resume will set you up for strong interviews. So it’s not just about improving this piece of paper. It’s about being able to clearly express your value throughout your entire job search.
An average dental hygienist resume makes you blend in with your peers
Before jumping into the idea of “standing out,” let’s start by looking in the opposite direction. What do standard resumes have in common? What makes a resume ordinary?
The “secret” to writing a resume that makes you look just like any other dental hygienist is to focus on what all your peers can do, with bullet points like these:
Since most of your colleagues can say the same, these roles and responsibilities should be mentioned, but shouldn’t take up all the space.
So let’s get back to how you can stand out. The strategy here is to write your resume thinking about how it will be perceived by a dentist or an office manager. Where will they see value? What are they looking for?
As on any resume, the key to being distinctive is writing about your accomplishments. Instead of only talking about what you did, add what any business owner or potential employer is looking for: saving money, improving protocols, solving problems, showing initiative…
While accomplishments are the most important elements, some skills are also quite valuable. Specifically, those which aren’t shared by many of your peers. They should be easy to spot on your resume.
If you can leave out a few obvious roles and responsibilities, and replace them by valuable accomplishments and skills, your resume will have much more impact.
I’m writing a book series called Resume Hacking. Each short resume book is customized for one profession. All the examples in the Dental Hygienist Resume Hacking book come from dental hygienist resumes (and sometimes, dental assistant resumes).
So what I’m sharing with you here are a few examples of the cornerstones from the best resumes. And just to give you an idea, out of about 100 resumes, only a handful had two or more accomplishments or valuable skills that made them stand out. The vast majority was focused on duties!
Continue to page two to see the top tips to making your resume stand out from a crowd...
1. “Created and presented educational material to local youth groups, pregnant patients and dentists”
Something like this says that you’ve got initiative, but also that you care for people and can communicate well. It’s ten times better than adding bullets in your “Skills” section with vague words like “Strong communication abilities” or “Empathy”. In other words, show me, don’t tell me.
2. “Skilled at dealing with children, after years in pediatric dentistry”
This can be especially useful in a growing neighborhood, with many young families. You should tailor your resume to accentuate elements which are more important to the specific clinic you’re applying to.
3. “Entrusted with the training of new clinical team members”
When employers see an accomplishment like this, they will understand two things. First, you’re professional; you do your job well (since you were entrusted with teaching others). Also, you have coaching/leadership skills.
4. “In a very busy practice with multiple hygienists, rapidly gained the trust of my new patients. Many of them requested me as their hygienist going forward.”
Any dentist would love to hire a hygienist who elicits trust from patients. Because when they trust you, they will come back! And recurring clients is how the business stays afloat. So that’s a very strong achievement.
5. “Cared for 1200 patients throughout career"
A statement like this is much stronger than, say, “Cared for patients from diverse age groups and backgrounds.” That “1200” number strikes a chord, and it doesn’t need to be huge. It just shows you’re reliable and that you’ve been there, done that.
6. Fluency in Spanish (or Mandarin, or Arabic…)
A hygienist with an extra language can attract people from that minority group. So it’s a good differentiating factor to highlight on your resume.
7. Understanding of new technology
Have you worked with recent technology? Intra-oral cameras, perioscopic treatments or automated probes, maybe? Many of your peers might not have such experience. So it’s a good way to stand out. (As a resume writer, it's impossible for me to advise you as to which ones are the most important. But really, you’re the one who has to keep up!)
If you have a LinkedIn profile (which I highly recommend), the tools you’ve worked with (especially new ones) are important keywords, because some employers might be using them as search terms. And when appropriate, use the generic term as well as the brand name.
Make sure your accomplishments are visible
You probably won’t have as many accomplishments and skills as there are roles and responsibilities on your resume. But you definitely should make them as prominent as possible. Here’s how you can achieve this:
Based on my review of dental hygienist resumes, taking initiative and generally being involved (committees and programs) are the most common types of accomplishments. If you participated on a team to improve something at work, or you initiated something, make sure to mention it!
While you probably prefer staring at an open mouth than at a word processor, take the time to properly dig for your accomplishments. They will become the cornerstone of your resume, but will also help you during interviews. You’ll have a few stories to tell which will resonate with employers.
Accomplishments are simply the most powerful tools available to get the job that you desire.