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How I became an executive dental hygiene recruiter

July 8, 2021
As Angie Stone's story tells us, being curious and saying "yes, please" can open up opportunities you didn't even know were out there.

A few months ago, I was engaged in the mundane process of cleaning out my inbox (delete, delete, delete) when I came across an email from a person I didn’t know. Surprisingly, the email content made me curious. After nearly four decades in the dental profession and varied positions, I am knowledgeable of the industry, but I didn’t know much about the subject of the email.

The sender of the correspondence was sharing information about a dental office that was looking for their next “rockstar hygienist.” He was wondering if I would mind doing some networking with him to see if I knew of any hygienists who would want to hear about the opportunity he had. He mentioned he was an executive recruiter. That was the part that piqued my interest. I wanted to know more. I picked up the phone and dialed the number in the email. 

Dave was happy to hear from me and the conversation was easy. The position he had was not one I was interested in. At this point in my career, I was not looking to do clinical hygiene four days a week with a 45-minute commute. Even though I wasn’t a “candidate” for that opportunity, Dave continued chatting with me and asking questions about my career.

He became as intrigued about what I had done as much as I was intrigued with what he did as recruiter. That is when the phone call took a hard right turn. As it turns out, Dave had an opening in his business for a director of hygiene recruitment, and while we were talking, he began to think maybe I would be a good fit. He mentioned this to me and asked if I would be interested in hearing more. My answer was, “Yes, please.”

My mind was blown to learn that there are headhunters for hygienists. I knew that bigger dental offices utilized recruiters, but I had no idea there were independent recruiters looking for hygienists to fill positions in dentist-owned practices. That call lead to another and another, and an eventual offer to become the director of hygiene recruitment for Bridge Resource Group, a niche recruiting firm specializing in the dental market. Once again, my answer was, “Yes, please.” 

In the weeks that followed I spent time training with Dave and brainstorming how this position would help me assist my hygiene colleagues. It makes me sad when dental hygienists tell me they are not valued at their office or that they are staying in a job only because of their patients. The stories I have heard can make me grit my teeth. 

I have learned the beauty of working with a recruiter is that the recruiter has the ability and resources to hunt for positions that fit the hygienist candidate’s specific needs. This prevents the candidate from needing to send résumés to many offices, interview several times, and then try to decide what position may be best. Often the best fit isn’t selected.

Recruiters also know how to tap into positions that aren’t even being advertised on the various job boards out there. They come alongside the dental hygienist and assist them through the entire process at no cost to them. This is a great option for hygienists who are at the top of their game and looking to grow and progress in their career. 

During my time in the dental profession, I have taught professionalism and résumé and portfolio development to students. I started a business and guided hygienists to manage their own business doing what I was doing. I have enjoyed empowering my hygiene colleagues through my speaking events and one on one mentoring. I want all hygienists to know there are no limits to what they can achieve, and they get to make their own choices along the way. On their journey, curiosity and “yes, please” will serve them well. I am looking forward to raising my colleagues up through my work as an executive recruiter.

Angie Stone, BS, RDH,  began her career in the Navy as a dental assistant and then went on to complete her associate's in dental hygiene and bachelor of science in psychology. Her experiences are vast. She is an accomplished speaker, researcher, author, and founder of the HyLife Oral Health Alliance. Angie can be contacted at [email protected]