By Amber Auger, RDH, MPH
Congratulations, you have survived dental hygiene school! Now that you’re free from competencies, it’s time to land your first official dental hygiene job. The reality is you may be competing with classmates for the same position; therefore, you must make a stellar first impression.
Here are three ways to differentiate yourself from other candidates and get offered your first paying dental hygiene job!
Knowing specific details about the doctor and team members will demonstrate you are serious about the position. Additionally, being able to strike up a conversation during the interview demonstrates you’re confident, communication capability and that is a critical part of effective patient relationship management. When the provider can build a quick and strong relationship with the patient, trust is built, and you become a valuable team member.
2. Dress to impress—I cannot stress this enough! With the increased number of dental hygiene graduates every year, a job could be lost due to lack of professional attire. Wearing a blazer over an appropriate length dress or a suit with a stylish dress shirt offers a polished, sophisticated look.
Avoid low cut shirts, leggings, cardigans, bright colors, bold make-up, large earrings, short-sleeve shirts, wrinkles, and pants that drag on the floor. Opt instead for close-toed heels no more than two inches tall, a blazer, neutral colors such as black, navy, white, or gray, a two-piece business suit, skirts that end at the knee, and a simple hairstyle that is not easily affected by humidity or wind. Remember, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
3. Be early—Give yourself plenty of time when traveling to the interview. If possible, drive to the location prior to the day of interview. This will allow you to familiarize yourself with the area, determine where to park and ease stress the day of the interview. Plan to arrive 15 to 20 minutes prior to the interview.
4. Be professional—The moment you enter the office, your interview has begun. Keep the conversation professional, smile, and warmly greet the front office team. Cell phones should be kept out of sight.
Hand the resume (printed on thick paper) to the person who conducts the interview. Stand, shake hands, and make eye contact as you greet team members with a smile. Once the interview is completed, follow up with a hand written thank-you note to each person in the interview.
Include a specific detail to show you were actively listening. For example, write in the thank-you note: “Thank you Dr. Smith for your time today. I enjoyed learning about the practice you have built and the dental mission trips you attend each year. It’s an honor to have a practitioner like you in the community. I look forward to hearing from you. “
Let’s face it, as a new graduate, with little to no experience, maintaining a professional image is essential to professional growth. Attending local ADHA meetings, study clubs, tradeshows such as RDH Under One Roof, and CE events will allow opportunities to network. Creating professional relationships will promote mentorship and create a greater access to positions that may not be posted. Invest in continually learning and networking, as it will help fuel your passion. Now…go get that job!