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If you’ve recently graduated from a dental assistant education program, you’re likely ready to get into the job market and land that perfect role you were dreaming of while going through your classes. You’re excited, but perhaps a little intimidated too.
It’s normal to be concerned about the job hunt portion of your career. Whether it’s looking for dental assistant jobs or something entirely different, you will wonder how you’ll stack up against the competition and how you can better position yourself to jump to the top of the resume pile and make the interview. When you consider all the people looking for a dental assistant job, it can feel like a long-shot to get the job you really want.
Every employer looks for different things in their candidates and those preparing for a dental assistant career are also looking for different things in their new job. Because of these different desires, it’s important to be open, honest and straight-forward throughout the process. Simply believing that a job will be the right one, despite warning signs that it isn’t a good fit, will ultimate lead to an unhappy outcome for everyone. In fact, when people say what they think those in charge of hiring what to hear, they are often disappointed when the job isn’t what they’d hoped.
Once you’ve read a job post or heard about a clinic with dental assisting job openings, determine if it’s a good fit. Getting the right job is very different from getting just any job and the best way to do so is to be honest – both with yourself and with potential employers. This is perhaps the best preparation you can do in your job search.
When you’ve found jobs that are the right fit for you, it’s time to double-check your resume to ensure it makes it to the top of the pile and positions you for an interview.
You heard it all through your classes: dentists are incredibly busy, as is everyone else on their team when they are in a thriving practice – and of course, that’s the kind of office you want to be part of! But, because the dentist and administrators are so busy, your resume will have to cut through the clutter quickly.
This is a time for simplicity. No fancy fonts, coloured paper or special ink.
Because you are unlikely to have experience as a dental assistant outside of your education, be sure to put that education at the top of your resume with points about the systems and equipment you worked with during your program. While all schools offer education with standard dental industry tools, some make use of the most modern and most commonly used methods. If you were lucky enough to graduate from a school focused on modern tools and techniques, be sure to mention these. If others in the dental practice you are applying to went to the same school you graduated from (which can be hard to determine without inside knowledge, but sometimes LinkedIn can help), note your school in your education section of your resume so that those in the practice are aware of the type of education you had. Some practices prefer candidates from certain schools because of the way students are taught and the experiences they had.
Don’t discount your previous work experience if it helps illustrate your character, work ethic or personality. For example, if you previously worked with children in a daycare, this is important information that would tell a dentist and their administrator that you can handle children in various situations. If you’ve worked as a waitress, you likely have an excellent bedside manner. Play up the positives of your past experiences as well as your accomplishments like increasing customer satisfaction scores or sales.
Also, be sure to include any additional skills on your resume like computer skills as these give an indication of abilities relative to the job. Hobbies aren’t essential on a resume, but when you’re up against many other candidates, anything to put you ahead of the competition will help – this will require some online social media searching to see what others in that particular dental practice are interested in to see if your interests are worth mentioning.
You may want to include a career objective, but this is more of a personal choice. When coming into a new role where you don’t have much experience, it’s a good idea because it indicates what you are looking for in the future.
Finally, follow the job posting exactly in terms of what is asked for. If a cover letter is requested, make sure you have one that highlights the specific areas mentioned in the job posting and how you are the candidate to fill the role. If a cover letter isn’t specified, you’ll need to determine if including one is the right step.
Congratulations, you’ve landed an interview! Getting there isn’t easy. It means your resume positioned your skills well and now you need to supplement that information with your personality.
Take time to review the notes you made about the practice when you were applying and working on your resume so that you can be knowledgeable and understand the culture and key niches. You want to be able to show an interest in the business and have enough information to ask questions.
Prepare for a job interview by practicing positive interview techniques and being ready for all kinds of questions. First and foremost, be positive. Don’t be negative towards others or other businesses/practices. Even if there are things you didn’t like during your dental program, this is not the time to mention them. A positive attitude will be one of the most important attributes to bring to the interview.
Dress for success even though the job will require you to wear scrubs. You’ll want to look professional and approachable.
While you won’t be asked about past dental job experience if you don’t have any, you may be asked about other past job experience or specifics around what you learned in your dental program. Be prepared to talk about how you interact with others, how you handle criticism and why you want to work for this particular practice. You’ll also likely be asked about any lab experience, how you work with certain dental tools and how you’ve dealt with difficult situations in the past.
It’s always a great idea to research some interview questions and have friends or family ask them so that you’re ready to think fast during the interview.
Once you’ve graduated from a dental assistant program, it’s time to go out and find your dream job. Pay specific attention to your resume to get you into an interview and then fully prepare for the interview to increase your chances of landing the job. Good luck!