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.

How to Spring Clean Your Career as a Dental Professional

By Julie Morris, Life and Career Coach

Spring cleaning doesn’t have to stop with your house. While your banishing dust bunnies from your home, consider giving your dental career a little organizational attention as well. Take a look at your professional life, think about what you would like to do differently, then develop a plan to refresh your career this year. Whether it’s making a career change or aiming higher in your field, these tips can help you organize your professional life and focus on your goals.

Consider a Career Change

Dental career paths can go in a number of directions. If you’re not thrilled about the work you’re doing right now, start thinking about jobs you would enjoy more. According to the American Dental Association, many dentists and dental hygienists find employment in non-clinical settings such as education, marketing, public health and research. Finding a career in one of these fields gives dental professionals an opportunity to use their valuable skills in a different way.

Rework Your Resume

Before you start job hunting, take the time to revamp your resume. Career Builder reports that nearly 40 percent of hiring managers spend less than 60 seconds looking at a resume. You’ve got to make your first impression quickly! When written and organized properly, a resume will help highlight your best features. A functional resume is best for people who have employment gaps, several past jobs, or no work experience in the field they’re applying to. Functional resumes put your skills and expertise on display instead of listing your work history by date. For dental professionals who are switching careers, this is essential.

Manage Your Online Reputation

Online reputation management is another important part of making yourself look exceptional to hiring managers. Hate websites or scam alerts can be extremely damaging to your future career prospects and business endeavors. Many times, these kinds of online reputation attacks are illegal. If you can prove the information they’re spreading is false, consider taking legal action. A skilled legal professional and online analysis team can help you find information on your attackers so that you can begin the process of having this content removed.

Even if your online reputation hasn’t been attacked, it won’t hurt to clean up your online presence. It’s easy for employers to discover how you conduct yourself in your social and professional life. Do a simple Google search of your name. What comes up? Delete anything questionable from your social media, including posts about controversial topics, like politics or religion. Finally, polish up your LinkedIn profile to emphasize your professional expertise.

Grow Your Network

While you already have a professional network, finding new networking contacts can speed up your career change and open up new opportunities. Stay in touch with your old network, though. These people offer motivating encouragement and may have connections with contacts that can help you out. Then, seek out experienced professionals in your desired career. Connect with recruiters, media, academics, and industry analysts. Branching out your network may help you land a job you would not have found otherwise.

Identify Gaps in Your Skills

It’s never too late to go back to school. While your dental training may carry over into your new industry, improving your skill set can expand your opportunities. This is true even if your desired job doesn’t require any special qualifications. Every professional will benefit from learning some key skills — public speaking, management, negotiation, research and critical thinking skills can boost any career.

You can take some classes at night or online while you continue to work your current job. Identify areas where you could improve and look into classes that can help you out. Classes in business writing, communication, electronic marketing, software, programming and entrepreneurship are all excellent options.

Even if you’re not switching careers at the moment, these tips can come in handy for organizing your current professional life. Keep your resume up to date, be careful about what you post online, grow your professional network and continue learning new skills. Cleaning up your career will keep you focused on your bigger goals and help you identify areas where you can make improvements.

Julie Morris is a life and career coach. More information can be found on her website at juliemorris.org.