One of the most important goals of a resume is to make sure it helps you stand out from other candidates applying for the same role. It can be easy for your resume to blend in with others, especially when you work in a skills-oriented field such as dental hygiene. While every resume should focus on key aspects of the position, yours should also include specifics that show employers why you’re the best fit.
Here are some core components of a dental hygienist’s resume and tips for how to make yours stand out:
1. Relevant experience
Before sending in your application, be sure to carefully read the job description and make appropriate adjustments to your resume. Tailoring your experience to match the keywords in the description can help you stand out when someone, or an automated system, is reviewing your resume. For example, if the job description specifically calls for someone with experience in pediatric oral hygiene, you’ll want to emphasize your experience working with children and make sure the word “pediatric” appears in your resume.
While you should feature key experiences that align with the job description, you should also include accomplishments that could differentiate you from other applicants. If you have previous administrative experience or are fluent in more than one language, be sure to highlight that on your resume. Experience with new industry technologies like intra-oral cameras, periscopic treatment or probes could also be added. Although it may not be included in the job description, employers might still value that experience.
Instead of writing generally about your qualifications, you should try to emphasize your achievements. Consider using the S.M.A.R.T method to clearly organize and define your accomplishments. This means they should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. For example, saying that you “Led the training of five new employees on clinical protocol and care routines” sounds better than “Trained new employees.”
Because dental hygienists must be licensed by the state they work in, you should include all relevant certifications and education on your resume. For instance, you could state that you passed the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, Jurisprudence Exam, the CRDTS Exam and are a Licensed Dental Hygienist. Although this might seem obvious when applying for a job, it can be helpful if your resume is vetted through an automated system or if someone is specifically looking for those certifications. Other certifications that can be beneficial to a potential employer, such as CPR, are also ideal to add to your resume.
4. Variety of experiences
If you have been working in the field for a while, there will likely be some overlap and redundancy in your responsibilities across jobs or positions. While this experience is valuable, try not to repeat yourself too much. The purpose of your resume is to market yourself to a potential employer, and once they’ve read that you’re adept at a certain skill, they get it.
If you have been a dental hygienist for several years, an employer would expect you to have significant experience with patient care, performing oral screenings, reporting and performing preventative and non-surgical periodontal procedures. Instead of repeating these duties for each job listed on your resume, you could show how you incorporated new technology to be more efficient, streamlined a process, took on more responsibility or learned something while performing these tasks. Employers like to see professional growth, so keep that in mind when you’re drafting these succinct bullet points.
5. Hard and soft skills
As a registered dental hygienist, your hard skills will take up a large portion of your resume, but your relevant soft skills should also be reflected as they provide another opportunity to set yourself apart from other candidates. Examples include:
- Communication: Dental hygienists routinely work one-on-one with patients, so they need to be comfortable interacting with people. This includes talking to patients about their oral care routines and making them feel comfortable during their appointment.
- Problem-solving: Every patient is unique, so you will need to adapt and change your treatment approach based on their needs. For example, you might have patients who cannot open their mouth as widely as you need them to, or you could have a nervous patient who has not been to the dentist in a while. You might need to brainstorm new ways to treat these patients.
- Detail-oriented: To conduct proper treatment, you must pay close attention to your patients and the state of their mouth, teeth and gums. Your job depends on thorough examinations, cleanings and preparation before patients see the dentist.
- Compassion: Up to 20% of Americans have anxiety about going to the dentist, and employers value hygienists who have the skills to help patients feel more at ease.
Rather than calling out these soft skills directly, you could weave them throughout your resume. For example, you can demonstrate your critical thinking and patient interaction skills by explaining how you approach examinations and cleanings for children who are upset and scared.
Remember, your resume should be a sneak peek into your accomplishments and qualifications so that when you get to the interview, you have plenty of talking points to elaborate on!