5 Ways to Nail Your Dental Hygiene Resume Wording

Words are boring! It’s visuals and actions that people look for first in almost everything (those are the path of least resistance, right?).

So it’s kinda hard to make resume wording advice interesting. But that’s exactly why you should read this post and make sure YOUR resume nails all the key ingredients. Most people (hygienists are no different) spend very little time making sure their resume reads well – make sure YOUR resume is the exception by following today’s five simple tips.Girl-Hire-Me

If it’s the “little things that count,” then consider these five small ones an important step toward a great job:

1. Being Stingy With Words

Write your resume as tight as you can. Last week we talked about the value of lots of white space in your formatting. The more experience you have, the harder it is to find white space – tight writing can help with that. But you also want to use words sparingly so that your resume doesn’t look as intimidating to read.

Bad: “I started a new patient program that included an office tour and sit-down meeting with myself and the doctor. We improved patient retention by more than 25 percent.”

Good: “Implemented new patient orientation program, elevating retention by 25%.”

2. Use Words that Leap off the Paper

This ties into the last example. Did you notice we started the first sentence with “I” and the second one with “Implemented”. By eliminating the pronoun and going straight to the verb the sentence gets a jump start. Studies show it drive’s the reader’s attention directly to what you did – resume readers are conditioned to look for these active words. Start all your bullet-point descriptions with them. And mix them up, look for good ones. If you’re stumped, here’s a link to a pretty good list of them: http://jobmob.co.il/blog/positive-resume-action-verbs/

3. Speak the Same Language

I don’t think this is as much of a problem in the dental hygiene field because the skills and duties are fairly narrow and standard. But you should read over your resume once to ensure it correctly captures the correct parlance of the dental industry. Make sure the industry-related words in your resume are specific and generally accepted so that the person reading (the doctor) it will understand. Probably the situation to be most cautious of is when you are going to school in one region and planning to work in another.

4. Avoid the Chronic Problem with Most Resumes (grammar, punctuation, spelling)

This should go without saying, but it’s shocking how many resumes contain obvious typos. Recognizing, most hygiene schools don’t include an English class, you would do well to hearken back to when you did have those classes, pull out your red pen, and go to work on a serious proof reading session (or two). There are some employers who are really big sticklers on grammar, spelling and punctuation. Others, not so much. The problem is you don’t know which you are getting when you hand that resume over.

If you don’t trust your eyes, your best defense is to get as many different people to proof-read it as possible. But try and find friends or family who you believe or know are good at writing and editing. We recommend you find at least three other sets of eyes – it might seem overkill until you have a doctor or office manager who loved English class and holds a tiny mispelling against you. You could also hire someone to write your resume for you or hire a copy editor off Elance.com to edit for you – this can usually be done pretty inexpensively and it’s well worth it.

5. Customize Your Objective

As we mentioned last week, most resumes begin with an objective that is some sort of ho-hum vague statement about your career objective.

Too Vague: “I want to land a job working for a practice that utilizes my skills as a dental hygienist.”

Why not take that space and turn it into something that shows you are interested in this specific job, like this:

More Meaningful: “I am well qualified for the position at All Smiles Dental in that I have the flexible work schedule, years of experience and knowledge of Dentrix that you indicate are important to you in your job ad.”

Doesn’t have to be a long statement, you could also do it in three short bullets.

Along with the job announcement itself, you find good custom wording from the practice’s website, Facebook or other social media pages. You may even find it on the walls in their office if you happen to find yourself in there before you give them your resume. Or maybe you know the doctor or front office person and have spoken with them in the past about the kind of office you run. The point is, take every piece of information you can gather and use it so that you can build bridges and connecting points with them.

Bonus Tip: In his book “2,239 Tested Secrets for Direct Marketing”, author Denny Hatch discusses the 14 most powerful words in marketing. These are the words that trigger an emotion in everyone’s brain and are very persuasive. You don’t need to go out and buy the book (unless you want in-depth analysis), I’ll share them with you here. Most of them are probably not words you will think to use in your resume, cover letter, other materials or conversations toward landing a job, but they are powerful and a few of them like “proven”, “love”, “results”, “now”, and “you” could easily find their way into your materials and interviews. But here’s the full list: Free, Now, You, Save, Money, Easy, Guarantee, Health, Results, New, Love, Discovery, Proven, Safety,

Your Turn:  If you like these tips, share the love – make a comment and pass them along to a friend. Good things always come back to us when we share and help others, too. Also, follow us on Facebook, Pinterest or even LinkedIn, where you can get additional postings of things interesting to hygienists.


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5 Key Ingredients to Formatting a Hygiene Resume

It’s easy to forget all the decisions you have to make when starting on your resume. Many of those begin with formatting – this is the guts of what your resume looks like.

Sadly, there are plenty of poorly formatted resumes out there and it really does hurt your chances of ever getting an interview.

This week we’re gonna give you the basics to improve your resume’s chances of avoiding the wastebasket.
1. What Format Should I Use?
There are three types of resumes – chronological, functional, and combination.

Chronological is the most common, displaying your work history near the top in reverse order (current job to oldest). They offer a simple flow and highlight work history prominently and that’s much of what doctors are looking for. So, that’s my recommendation.

The other two, functional and combination (a hybrid of functional and chronological) aren’t as common. Functional is usually used when you want to highlight your skill set but since most hygienists have very similar skill sets I don’t think it’s as effective. And a combination is used pretty infrequently so it may cause the person reading it to have to hunt a little longer for what they are looking for.

2. How Long Should it Be
The main purpose of a resume is to get you an interview. You want the resume to stand out but not in negative ways. Arguably, one slightly negative way is length. Keep it to one page.

In most cases, there isn’t much up-side to making it longer than a page. First of all, longer resumes are discouraging to the eyes when you have a stack of 30-40 to look at.

Second, if you make it long because you want to include non-dental jobs, it’s not relevant and takes up space. If you’re making it longer because you have worked at a dozen different offices, that’s a red flag that maybe you are the type to move around a lot – it raises questions.

3. What Sections Should I Include?
A typical resume includes five or six sections in this order: 1. Objective and/or Summary; 2. Work history; 3. Education history; 4. Certifications/Recognition; 5. Miscellaneous and/or References.

Most people begin with what their overall career objective is. It’s usually a pretty ho-hum statement that doesn’t have to be changed every time you apply for a job. But I think it’s wise to customize the objective or summary to tell what uniquely qualifies you for the job – use some of the language from the job posting of what they are looking for (see these chronological and functional examples).

Work and education history should be listed in reverse chronological order. Be sure to include three to five key duties you did at each job or any awards or recognition you have received when at school.

Certifications might be one of those things the doctor is specifically looking for if not every hygienist has been trained to administer anesthesia, for example.

Finally, include anything that is relevant that hasn’t been previously mentioned. Could be specialized training or maybe some volunteer work you have performed as a hygienist. I also recommend listing three references her too. Some will put that they are available upon request and that’s fine too.

4. How Much Spacing?
Just a short note about spacing. I love white space – it points to clean and organized (who doesn’t want to be thought of as clean and organized?). And it’s more pleasing to the eyes. A person is more likely to read and navigate through it. So, see if spacing will allow for you to have 1.5 or at least 1.15 line spacing. It’s okay to pull the margins out a touch to achieve that. Tight wording (which we will discuss next week) can also play a critical part in this, too.

5. What Font(s) Work Best
There’s a whole field of science dedicated to typography (fonts). Time and room doesn’t permit me to go into this in detail, so here’s the down and dirty. Use san serif fonts for headings and serif fonts for body text – studies show that’s the most readable combination.

I also highly recommend using basic fonts that are considered standard (Times, Garamond for serifs and Arial, Verdana for san serif). The reason is, most of the time you either print your resume or send it as a PDF file – any font is fine for that. But on a rare occasion you may have to send your resume as a Word document, for example, and the person you are sending it to won’t have a specialty font and so when they open the file it will look all messed up.

By now you probably know that using upper case fonts is considered yelling. So obviously, it would be pretty obnoxious to have your entire resume in upper case print. It’s okay to use it to draw a small measure of attention but only for higher level headings would be my recommendation. Best is to use all-uppercase key headings, bold sub-headings, and italics on a third level.

Bonus Tip:
For a long time I always had two versions of my resume. One with no formatting so I could easily copy and paste it into the body of an e-mail (without the fear of formatting not being translated) and my main formatted one that was in PDF file created from a Word document.

Now, I just stick with the Word/PDF versions. So do you have software to create PDFs? Newer versions of Microsoft Word have it built in, but in case you are using older software or software that doesn’t allow you to save documents as a PDF file, there are lots places online that will convert files to PDF for you for free. One of them is here: https://www.wordtopdf.com/

Next week’s tip is going to be all about how to properly word a resume. There’s some cool tricks to it so I hope you’ll watch for that. And, I would love to hear your feedback and comments to today’s post – there are no doubt things you have done that have worked well, too. Finally, share these tips with your friends and follow us on Facebook and Pinterest to get even more fun hygiene-related content. Have a great weekend!

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Released in January 2012, Landing a Great Dental Hygiene Job is now its 2nd edition. The Ebook has helped thousands of dental hygiene professionals on the path toward a great job. You can also now get the audio book (compatible with iTunes and other mobile devices). Also new, the Quick Reference Guide, a perfect companion to the book.
To get the EBook, Audio Book or Reference Guide click here.

Landing a Great Dental Hygiene Job 2nd Edition Cover


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