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4 resumé red flags to watch for

June 12, 2020
Talented, reliable staff are the heart of any dental office, and these days they're in high demand. But hiring managers won't do their practice any good in the long run if they miss these red flags.
There is an old saying that still applies: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Like many dentists or dental practice managers, you probably still rely on a pile of resumés to choose a potential hire. According to Cloud Dentistry, “Resumés are instrumental to making memorable first impressions,”1 and that can catch even the most seasoned office or hiring manager off guard.

Resumés are often embellished or falsified in the dental job market. According to collected data from digital reference checking specialist Checkster, a whopping 78% of people polled had stretched the truth on a resumé.2 This statistic is troubling, especially when you take into account that people with honest, accurate resumés might not be considered because another applicant decided to lie about their qualifications. Below are a few things to look out for when reviewing resumés.

Employment gaps and/or multiple positions in a short period

Applicant A’s resumé says they held a certain position from 2018–2019. It looks like a year, yet it’s only six months. Applicant B shows a gap in their employment history of one year or more. What were they doing? If the applicant is honest about taking time off to raise a child or take care of a relative, it’s a good sign, and rusty professional skills can be improved with a little practice. 

Stretching abilities

"Dental software proficient” could mean they were able to make appointments but couldn’t enter a treatment plan or create an insurance claim. Bringing less than stellar skills to the job translates into more time spent training and you can’t be sure the applicant will be able to perform to the level needed. Test the applicant’s skills before offering the position.

You might also be interested in: 6 common hiring mistakes to avoid

Education embellishments

An applicant may claim to have earned a Bachelor of Arts, but in reality, they only completed 30 units of coursework. They may have majored in business administration, never actually completed the degree, but decided to go ahead and list it on their resume. Failing to check official school records leaves you vulnerable to applicants who choose to inflate their academic achievements. 

Background checks and reference checks

These are two steps often skipped by dental practices that have the potential to weed out a bad hire. The cost of a background check is negligible when you consider the potential risk to your patients and team. Reference checks are key in determining whether the applicant actually held the positions they claim—speaking with them is about more than just getting their overall opinion of the person’s past performance. After all, an honest appraisal from a previous employer may be hard to come by for fear of reprisal.

A few years ago, I hired a receptionist for an office through a local dental employment agency.  According to the agency, she was very experienced with Eaglesoft software and knowledgeable about dental insurance. She struggled with accurate and fast data entry, and the office manager had to redo much of her work to get claims paid. After some hours of training, she did improve, but not before costing the practice hundreds of dollars and hours of extra work.

We all want to trust our instincts and give people the benefit of the doubt, but in today's climate of identity theft and moral turpitude, it’s better to be wise and savvy than duped and defrauded.

Most employers don't discuss mistakes in hiring out of embarrassment. The cost of a bad hire is extensive; it can drain emotional reserves, stretch the patience of the existing team, and cast a cloud of despair over the entire practice. New hires who can’t deliver on the job are often guilty of resumé fraud.

Dental office managers may be tempted to outsource hiring to a dental employment agency; however, this isn’t the answer unless you’d rather pay hefty hiring fees than scan resumés, do Skype or phone interviews, and perform reference checks yourself. Additionally, hiring agencies can be very limited in their pool of applicants. Some agencies don’t like it when you use the services of other agencies because they are working to fill your job order. 

Most dentists would say, "Why should I have to pay a fee of a half a month’s gross salary when I should be able to hire someone myself?” Fair enough, but when desperation rules the day, cost is secondary to losing production and making patients wait for care.

Employment agencies are in the business of placing applicants in permanent jobs. Be sure to review the fine print on any agreement, because after paying the expensive hiring fee, the new employee is usually only guaranteed for three months. If the new hire doesn't work out, the dentist is left to start over from square one, minus a few thousand dollars. 

How can you remedy the pitfalls of the hiring process?

If the dental office manager is busy with patients in the office and on the phone, they probably don’t have time to search for and thoroughly vet applicants. An increasingly popular source of potential hires is the internet. Look for an online job-matching platform that can provide the following:

  • A large pool of applicants with the qualities and skills necessary for your practice needs  
  • 24/7 access to hundreds of quality applicants that you can speak to personally
  • Ease of registration and use with no big fees or contracts required
  • Up-to-date technology that enables you to connect with the most qualified applicants in the shortest amount of time

A thorough knowledge of how to properly vet job applicants, familiarity with potential red flags, and a firm understanding of the tools at your disposal will serve you well when attempting to hire the best people for your dental office.

Editor's note: Originally posted in 2020 and updated regularly


  1. First impressions: How to make your dental resumé stand out. Cloud Dentistry. https://www.clouddentistry.com/dental-temp-agency/best-practices-resume
  2. New Checkster research shows 78% of job applicants lie; and 66% of hiring managers don't care. PR Newswire. February 13, 2020. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-checkster-research-shows-78-of-job-applicants-lie-and-66-of-hiring-managers-dont-care-301004406.html