Dimensions Brand Ambassador Simòn Bud, RDH, a practicing dental hygienist in California’s Simi Valley and Westlake Village shares some tips on how to stand out and land a job.
Applying for and landing your first job as a dental hygienist can seem like an overwhelming task. How are you supposed to present yourself as someone who can be a valuable part of an office if you are fresh out of school? How are you supposed to have “2 years of experience” straight out of hygiene school? How are you even supposed to know how to be an actual hygienist seeing eight patients a day rather than the two a day you had in hygiene school? These are all the troubling questions that plagued my mind when I started applying for jobs after hygiene school.
I felt like it would be impossible to find a job right away, to have to live up to these unrealistic standards, and act like I was cool, calm, and collected. If you are feeling this way too, please know that you are not alone and that there are some things you can do to settle your mind and set you apart from other applicants so that you may land an amazing job straight out of hygiene school.
STEP UP YOUR RESUME GAME
The first thing I cannot stress enough is to create an amazing resume filled with information that shows just how awesome you are. Your resume is a snapshot of your qualifications and shows the office what kind of hygienist you might be. For me personally, I wanted my resume to have lots of info to show that I, indeed, did have a lot of experience, even if it didn’t look like the usual “2 years” of working experience.
What rotations did you attend in hygiene school? Approximately how many patients did you see? What about periodontally involved patients? Pediatrics? Geriatrics? What about community service opportunities you participated in during hygiene school? All of this information is absolute GOLD and will fill up your experience section on your resume to make it look quite impressive.
The next thing I did was design my resume to look different than a standard piece of paper. Some may disagree with this method, but every single time I submitted my resume, I received a callback and have been complimented on how my resume stands out. Play around with fonts, columns, and colors! I also have a professional headshot that I include in the corner of my resume. I feel like the headshot helps the hiring manager see me in his or her vision of the dental practice.
CRAFT A KILLER COVER LETTER
After you have your resume nailed down, the next thing is to include a cover letter. Your cover letter is where you address the office specifically. When I first was applying, I made sure to include a section in my cover letter where I addressed the fact that it may be easy to bypass a recent grad. In this part of my cover letter, I made sure to talk about how qualified I actually was with the variety of dental experiences I had in dental hygiene school. If you ever worked in the dental setting prior, add that in there too! Before I was a hygienist, I worked as a dental assistant for a few years, which helped ease a lot of my interviewer’s minds. With a resume and cover letter that stands out from the crowd, you will be sure to get a call back from the offices to which you are applying.
ALWAYS BE PROFESSIONAL
So say you get the call back from an office after seeing your shining resume and cover letter, now what? From that initial call, make sure you are professional and kind on the phone. Be on guard when answering your phone after applying to jobs, sometimes your first impression is the one that sticks out in a person’s mind!
Something I love to do before the interview is to be prepared. This means printing out my resume, references, and cover letter on nice paper and putting it in a professional folder, just in case the office wants to see it again. I also practice for potential questions that the office might have for me, and what potential questions I might have for it! When you go in for your interview, dress professionally. Make sure your clothes are appropriate, clean, wrinkle-free, and clear of any pet hair. Take time to check that your hair is well done and not too messy and that your make up is not overly distracting.
The interview is really where you get to express your personality, so be yourself in the most professional way you know how. Answer questions with confidence so that you might instill confidence in whoever is interviewing you that they ARE making the right choice. Not only should the office be confident that they are making the right choice by adding you to their team, but make sure the office is the right choice for you too. Just because this is your first job does NOT mean you have to settle. Ask for what you are worth. I cannot repeat that enough. You are still an amazing hygienist with tons of experience from school and a great attitude, which would be a perfect addition to any office. Know this and feel comfort in it.
Not every hygienist has it together from the beginning, but you will get it soon enough! Don’t ever let the fear of being a new hygienist keep you from landing your dream job.