A Guide to Finding Your First Job After Dental School

By Ashley Halsey

So, you graduated from dental school and you need to figure out your next step to get a job. First of all, congratulations! Now, you need to follow these steps to help you get your first dental job.

1. Make a Plan

Think about where you want to be in five, 10 years. Do you want your career to go toward being a partner or owner of a practice? Are you interested in simply getting more experience, or paying back your student loans? Think about where you want to go, and it will help you discover how to get there.

Once you know that, you can start thinking about location, but you shouldn’t be focused on that at the start of your career. The best dental jobs usually are not in the heart of the city, where you’ll find there is more competition for patients. If you must live and work in a saturated or difficult market for whatever reason, consider the income offered in different parts of town. You’ll also want to manage your expectations regarding your income.

2. Develop a CV and Cover Letter

The reality is that most applicants don’t get to the interview stage. Because of that, it’s important that your CV and your cover letter set you apart from the crowd and showcase why you should be selected. This can be difficult when you don’t have any experience, but that’s where you must highlight your strengths.

A suggestion from Nancy Keenan, a dental writer at Writinity and Last Minute Writing, is to “include any electives or awards that you might have won, or if you graduated at the top of your class or in the top percentage. Add any volunteer experience that’s relevant and highlight what you learned from each.”

3. Find Opportunities

Networking is the best way to find open dental positions, but it can be difficult to meet with all the dentists and go to every meeting. Do some research online for local dental schools and associations because they might post job openings. A few online databases have dental job listings posted so that’s also a good place to start.

4. Dress to Impress for Interviews

If you’re not sure what to wear for the interview, go for overdressed instead of underdressed. You want the interview panel to know that you’re serious about your career. Think about if your interview outfit makes you look like a dental professional. It’s important at this stage to make a good first impression and establish your credibility.

5. Manage Phone Interviews

You’ll want to respond to all your emails and phone calls right away to show your interest and motivation. Even if you might not be interested in the opportunity, it’s respectful and you don’t know if down the road you may want a position at that practice. On a telephone interview, try to line up an interview in person. Rhonda Gorman, a medical journalist at Draft Beyond and Research Papers UK says that you should “tell them how interested you are and that you’d like to meet with them and see the practice. There’s no harm in taking the initiative to set that up. Don’t forget to smile, even on the phone, because you can tell when someone on the phone is smiling.”

6. Prepare for Your Interview

When you’re going in for an interview, prepare in advance. Smile and be enthusiastic, because a lot of it comes down to personality, too. Show genuine interest in the hiring dentist’s practice and their needs for a new dentist, because it’s important to know why they’re hiring a new dentist. In the clinic, treat all the staff with respect and friendliness. After your interview, follow up with a thank you email.

7. Review the Contract

Before you accept a position, you’ll want to review the contract with a legal representative, including compensation considerations and requirements. Does it include all the information that you need to decide if the job is right for you? If you’re not satisfied with the offer, don’t be afraid to request more and negotiate something better.

It can be daunting to look for a job, but by following these steps it should be more manageable. Good luck!

Ashley Halsey is a professional writer at Lucky Assignments and Gum Essays, and writes about career development and networking. She enjoys helping people connect with their dream careers and improve their professional skills. In her free time, she travels and attends many business seminars.

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