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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