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How To Create A Winning Dental Hygiene Resume

If you are looking for tips to create a striking and head-turning dental hygiene resume, then the search is OVER! Read on and learn a lot of tips and advice from Doug Perry. 

Doug Perry is very well respected and well known in the dental hygiene industry. His wife is an RDH, and he is not! That is irrelevant, though, because his work has been praised by hundreds of dental hygienists. He distilled his 20+ years of marketing experience into a service that dental hygienists are raving about: resume building. Doug has helped hundreds of dental hygienists get better jobs, earn promotions, and reinvent careers.

In this interview, Doug and I talk about topics related to:

    • Top issues with resumes
    • How to sell yourself better
    • What is a testimonial sheet
    • Advice on creating a better resume
  • How long the employer looks at resumes (answer below)

Watch our video to see the entire interview, which is full of (amazing) information.

Here is a summary of the interview.

DentalToaster: What are the main hurdles that you see job seekers facing when writing a dental hygiene resume?

Doug: First, I see candidates struggling with articulating accomplishments. It’s good to be humble, but this is an audition, and candidates need to “sell” themselves. I don’t mean that you should brag about your accomplishments, but it is the candidate’s job to make them obvious to the employer. You cannot rely on the employer to read between the lines. He or she has a stack of 20-30 resumes and will not take the time to find those accomplishments for you. You have to make it easy for them to see what you are good at and why you should be called for an interview.

Second, candidates have a hard time finding a unique style that makes them stand out. Everybody is different, and the candidate who seems to have more character can have a better chance at being called for an interview. Because many candidates find it difficult to understand their style and put it in a resume format, they revert to the basic dental hygiene resume, which may not get much attention.

DentalToaster: How long do you think an employer looks at a resume?

Doug: There was a study conducted by ladder.com where they screened the eyes of the employer. And the result was only six seconds! It is impossible to read an entire resume in six seconds, so that means the person who is screening is mostly paying attention to the initial impression. That’s why I make sure the dental hygiene resume is well designed and attractive.

DentalToaster: Do we need a tagline at the top of the resume?

Doug: There is something called an objective statement. I and others believe that it’s not necessary because the objective is obvious. Instead, candidates can use what's called a summary statement. This short paragraph shows what the employer will get if they hire you.

DentalToaster: Can you walk us through your course on building a dental hygiene resume that stands out?

Doug: Sure.

    • The first part is creating your personal brand. I bring the Coca-Cola analogy and talk about creating a brand name for yourself. That includes discovering your soft skills, which are the more personality-based attributes that you have. How are you going to represent the office to the patient? How are you going to work with the team? Those topics are covered in this first part.
    • The second part is how to build your resume. We discover the details about what a resume is, what formats there are, etc. For example, there are two types of resumes: the chronological and reverse chronological. Each of them has a purpose. I also talk about how the candidate should NOT provide an address and why.
    • The third part is job hunting.
  • The fourth part is supplemental materials -- a testimonial sheet, video resume, cover letter, postcard, thank you cards, etc. There are different theories about cover letters, and the employer may not even ask for one. I still believe that a cover letter is beneficial, and I describe how to write one.

DentalToaster: What advice do you have for dental hygienists who do not have a lot of experience?

Doug: It’s a little more difficult to craft a resume if you’re a new grad and if you have limited experience. However, there is always something to write about. I tell all of my clients to be confident that they have the skills. Retail jobs, summer jobs, restaurant jobs, etc.; all of them are related to customer service and people skills, and those skills can be transferred to make you an excellent dental hygienist and a team player.

For the new grads, I help them understand that dental hygiene school was similar to “working.” If you think about it, the student has experience in caring for patients, treating them with a group of professionals, and providing a service. All of these experiences are more than enough to create a great resume.

DentalToaster: I personally feel like a good design is important. What do you think?

Doug: You are right. A design that stands out pulls people into the resume. If the design is not there, you’re likely to lose the employer before you even get a chance.

DentalToaster: This makes me think about how I choose a book from the bookstore. Honestly, I look at the cover and decide if I’m interested or not. I think a resume is similar, especially if the candidate is competing with many other dental hygienists.

DentalToaster: How long does it take to write a good dental hygiene resume?

Doug: To go through the process I created, it will take more than a few days. My advice is to give yourself enough time to craft the dental hygiene resume. I see some people giving it their minimum effort, but it should be quite the opposite.

When my wife did all of those things that I’ve suggested in the course, she was hired immediately. I hope that everyone will have a chance to find their dream job.

Ready to get your dream job? Start here!

About the authors

Doug Perry 

Doug has 18 years of marketing/communications experience working for membership associations and marketing firms in Utah. He holds a bachelor’s degree in communications/PR from Weber State University. A native of Oregon, he and his wife are the parents of four children and live just outside Salt Lake City. The book Landing a Great Dental Hygiene Job, is free and can be found online at https://www.facebook.com/GetHiredRDH/.

Claire Jeong, MS, RDH

Claire Jeong, RDH, BS Dental Toaster FounderClaire is an entrepreneur, author, educator, researcher, and international speaker. She is the founder of StudentRDH / SmarterDA – Dental hygiene and assisting exam prep solutions. In addition, she created DentalToaster, an online CE platform that provides unique courses for the dental professional.

Claire has a Master’s Degree in Administration from Boston University, Dental Hygiene Degree from Forsyth School of Dental Hygiene in Boston, and a Business degree from the top business programs in Korea. Prior to her career in the dental field, Claire Jeong was an education specialist at Boston Children’s Museum.

Through her live and online courses, Claire helped tens of thousands of people gain valuable dental knowledge and clinical skills. With her expert knowledge in education, she authored the e-book WakeUp Memory™, which teaches how to use the brain and remember anything. She combines the WakeUp Memory Technique™ in her courses and teaches educators to apply this method in their own classrooms. To her audience’s testimony: “Learning is now addictive.”

Many of Claire’s articles, such as the New Hypertension Guidelines are ranked one of the top articles in RDH Magazine and DentistryIQ. She is regularly invited in podcasts and conferences such as RDH Under One Roof as a key opinion leader. Her classes are fascinating, and the audience becomes glued to their seat. Claire also provides guidance to companies to reach the younger generation of dental professionals. Email: ClaireJ@DentalToaster.com

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