Resume Tips for Dentists
The best dentist resume is one that is concise, compelling, and customized. As all dentists’ career histories, qualifications, and aspirations are different, so should be their resumes.
It isn’t uncommon for me to work with a dentist who never needed a resume until now or hasn’t updated it in more than 10 years. Many dentists have been recruited for every role in their experience history or have owned/operated a practice for the bulk of their career. If this describes your situation, or if you are a recent graduate of dental school just learning the nuances of resume writing for dentists, follow these dentist resume tips to create a strong, interview-winning document.
Before we get into the individual sections of a resume, here are a few of the general rules to keep in mind:
- Limit paragraphs to 5–6 lines and bulleted lists to 7 for readability.
- Do not include details (including dates) for positions held more than 15 years ago.
- Write in first person but without the use of pronouns (I, me, my, our, we) and filler words (the, an, a).
- Avoid repetitive and weak language (e.g., “responsible for”).
- Sell it; don’t tell it. Your resume’s sole purpose is to land you interviews, so make sure every section is created with your audience in mind.
Title, Summary & Key Skills
Every resume should have a title, summary, and key skills section at the top of the first page. This is where you introduce yourself as the perfect candidate for the job and compel the hiring manager to read the rest of your resume.
Example titles for dentist resumes are General Dentist, Orthodontist, Periodontist, Prosthodontist, or a combination of titles if appropriate. The title of your resume replaces the outdated objective statement. Instead of stating, “Seeking a rewarding General Dentist position,” title your resume with the position(s) you are best suited to fill followed by supporting summary and core competencies sections.
Your resume summary should be no longer than 3–5 sentences and effectively tout your experience level, areas of expertise, and notable soft skills. For example:
Exceptionally skilled, compassionate, and high-energy General Dentist with 10+ years’ experience providing top-quality care to patients of all ages. Broad background encompassing esthetic, preventive, and pediatric dentistry, fixed and removable prosthodontics, and endodontics. Motivational leader and excellent communicator able to interface effectively with diverse personalities and inspire improved performance among dental staff.
Following your summary, list 10–15 industry-specific buzzwords (no more than 3 lines) to supplement those already mentioned in your summary paragraph. This section is specifically designed to aid the resume in getting past applicant tracking system (ATS) screenings. The ATS will scan the entire resume for keywords, but it’s advantageous to create a separate section dedicated to key skills to ensure all bases are covered. Plus, this section is a concise, visually appealing display of your core competencies. Here are a few dentist buzzwords to consider including in your resume:
- Patient Relations & Education
- Diagnosis & Treatment Planning
- Case Management
- Practice Growth/Expansion
- Business Development
- Staff Training & Direction
- Community Outreach
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Great sources for which keywords to include are job postings. Before applying to a position, it’s a good idea to review the ad carefully to ensure your listed proficiencies match their required qualifications as closely as possible. Below is a job posting for a General Dentist with the potential buzzwords highlighted:
General Dentistry USA currently has a dentist position available working 3 days per week. This is a rewarding opportunity working within our portable division providing dental services to nursing home facilities.
Conduct initial screenings
Conduct comprehensive oral exams
Establish treatment plans
Fabricate, adjust, and reline dentures
Proficiency in all areas listed above
Current Maryland Dental License
Here is where resumes will differ depending upon your specific career history and current objective. In a traditional chronological resume, positions are presented in reverse-chronological order with a brief paragraph outlining day-to-day duties followed by bulleted achievements/major contributions. This resume format works best for individuals with steady work histories and a career target that closely aligns with their current or most recent roles. However, when it comes to resume writing for dentists, this format can be problematic.
For example, if you have worked for more than 5 dental offices over the past 15 years or took on numerous contract assignments, repeating those day-to-day job duties over and over again in a chronological resume will work against you. It becomes impossible to keep the reader’s interest and you’ll likely end up with a 4+ page resume.
Instead, consider using the functional resume format. Your career history is still listed in reverse-chronological order, but only your job title, employer name and location, and start and end years are included. Your notable career accomplishments are summarized in a bulleted section strategically placed right after your summary and key skills. This section – titled Professional Highlights, Key Achievements, Select Accomplishments, or Value Offered, for example – enables you to showcase your unique experience without being overly repetitive. Areas of expertise can also be expanded upon in this section if there isn’t enough room to tout them in your summary paragraph.
Often the most difficult part of a resume to write but the most important, achievements are the details that will help you stand out against other applicants. All successful dentists have the same core traits, so your resume needs to convince the hiring manager to interview you and not the next candidate. Quantifiable achievements can be tricky to identify in healthcare, but by asking yourself the right question – “then what happened?” – you’ll arrive at the results of your efforts. For example:
- Researched, procured, and coordinated setup of state-of-the-art CEREC equipment.
This was no doubt a major project, but then what happened? What were the direct results of your efforts?
- Researched, procured, and coordinated setup of state-of-the-art CEREC equipment, improving available restoration services, increasing patient satisfaction by 25%, and growing overall revenue by 50%.
See the difference?
Education & Training
List all degrees obtained with the school name and location. Only include your graduation year if the degree was achieved in the last 5 years. You can also mention honors, awards, and scholarships in this section.
Regarding training, there is no need to list every continuing education course you’ve completed. However, advanced training programs and recent courses in trending topics may deserve space on your resume.
In this section, list your licenses, certifications, and professional memberships including honorable designations such as fellow or diplomate. If you have several professional memberships, consider creating a separate section for these items. Remember to label any inactive or past credentials accordingly or provide the start/end years to ensure your resume isn’t misleading.
Depending upon your background, additional sections to include on your resume could be presentations and publications, awards, volunteerism/community activities, and computer skills. If you have held numerous teaching appointments, it might be advantageous to separate these from your dentist roles in another section.
To view a dentist resume sample created by the iHire team, visit the iHireDental Resume Services page.
March 09, 2015
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