Networking Your Way Through a Career Transition

July 20, 2011
DANB offers ideas to network, build your resume and enhance your success — even during challenging times.

DANB offers ideas to network, build your resume and enhance your success – even during challenging times.

The Dental Assisting National Board, Inc. (DANB) often hears the question: How can I connect with other dental professionals and find additional career opportunities? Dental assisting is a dynamic field, and there are many opportunities out there. Some chairside assistants are looking to take on additional duties, or find a job in a different office or specialty. Others may want to move into education, dental sales, consulting, or office management.

Making a career transition can be challenging, but the good news is that you don’t have to go it alone. Reaching out to others through professional networking is one of the best ways to learn about opportunities and accomplish your goals. These tips can take you from feeling “in between” to “in demand.”

Social Networks – Social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, are great ways to form connections. LinkedIn is another great resource and is focused on forming professional connections. Be sure to update your profile with your latest work experience, job history, and credentials, and always keep your tone professional. Deborah Jaruzel, CDA, RDA, is the President of the Genesee Dental Assistants Society, and she says the group’s Facebook page is one way members keep in touch. “Reaching out to our membership online and has been key to our success this year,” she says.

Professional Associations – Consider joining the American Dental Assistants Association (ADAA) or the American Association of Dental Office Managers (AADOM). Both groups offer networking opportunities, such as online forums and in-person meetings, that can connect you with other dental professionals. Talking to others about your new career endeavors can help give you guidance and support. “Being an AADOM member has provided me with a network of people who I can share my office stories, questions, issues and future hopes with,” notes Melissa Meredith, 2010 Office Manager of the Year. Visit the ADAA’s website at or AADOM’s website at to learn more.

Dental Meetings – In-person networking can be a successful strategy. Attending one or two dental meetings each year is a way to talk with other dental professionals face-to-face. Many dental meetings offer affordable attendee fees and discounts for registering the entire dental team. The American Dental Association offers a full calendar of events on its website at or visit DANB’s website at for a list of meetings that DANB is attending.

Spread the Word – Posting your resume on or other job boards allows dentists and hiring managers to search for candidates when they have a job opening. Be sure to post the most current version of your resume, with your current contact information. If you are DANB Certified or hold a DANB Certificate of Competency, you can post a DANB emblem on your DentalWorkers profile to confirm your achievement. Once you’ve posted your resume, let friends, family and colleagues know that you are looking. They may know someone who is looking to hire someone just like you.

Connect With a Staffing Agency – Signing up with a staffing agency can be a way to work temporarily or part-time until a full-time opportunity comes along. There are many local and regional staffing agencies that can help connect you with the right office. It’s important to form a relationship with the hiring manager, and stay in touch until you find the right fit. Marena Gell, CDA, CDPMA, is the founder and owner of Diversified Dental Staffing Inc., a dental staffing agency in North Carolina. She says she is able to place dental assistants who are looking for full- and part-time work, as well as temporary positions. “It’s about finding the first person for the right office,” she notes.

Volunteering – Volunteering at a dental clinic or in other non-office settings where oral healthcare is provided is a way to give back to your community, enhance your resume, demonstrate your clinical experience, and network with other dental professionals. Check with your school district or other community organizations to see if there are any upcoming oral healthcare awareness days. Melissa Cook, CDA, EFDA, regularly hosts the Give Kids a Smile Day at Villa Rica Elementary School in Georgia. “As a dental professional, I do everything I can to provide oral health education and resources,” she says.

Join a Study Club – If you’re looking to take the next step in your career, continuing dental education (CDE) can help. You can earn CDE online for free through websites like You can also take online courses through DANB in topics such as dental radiography and front office management. “It was a well-thought out program and very intense. The review was really helpful,” says Kathy Begley, CDPMA, of DANB’s online accounts receivable course. Visit to find out more.

Connect with a study club and help keep each other on track. Members of the study club can complete CDE courses online, and meet to talk about what they learned. If you’re not sure where to start, check with the ADAA or AADOM. Many state ADAA chapters have study clubs. AADOM offers a national study club registry, as well. Visit or to learn more.

Professional Certification – Earning and renewing your DANB Certification shows employers that you have knowledge in important topics, like general chairside, infection control and dental radiography. DANB offers three national certifications: Certified Dental Assistant (CDA), Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA), and Certified Preventive Dental Assistant (CPDA). Other DANB Certificants will instantly recognize your credential, so wear your DANB Certification pin to let others know you are DANB Certified, too. “I’m a proud DANB CDA,” notes Marilyn Copeland, CDA, CPDA.

Visit to learn more or download an application packet.