your first dental hygiene position

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1 your first dental hygiene position Miguel Salmeron / Getty Images Step 1 bychristinehovliaras-delozier,rdh,mba It s a time to start fresh and begin planning your career goals by completing your Career Development Plan! I hope you found the Professional Savvy Career Development Plan, published in the November 2004 issue of the RDH Student Focus, to be helpful. After you graduate, please take time to complete this plan to help you choose your career path in dental hygiene. In this article, we will review several key career planning strategies in preparation for your first position in dental hygiene: Sources to help you find a dental hygiene position How to develop a successful cover letter and resume When to use a curriculum vitae How to develop professional contacts Where do I look for a dental hygiene position? There are several resources from which to find dental hygiene positions. The first category includes 14 RDH Student Focus/March

2 employment sites and the second includes Internet sites. Employment sites include the following: public employment agencies, private employment agencies, newspapers, professional journals and magazines, college placement centers and alumni associations, professional associations, job fairs, and networking. Public employment agencies include those within your state (i.e.; State Division of Employment Security, State Job Service or Manpower Services). Not every employer will list positions with state agencies; however, in recent years, more employers have begun to use this service. Private employment agencies include headhunters. Headhunters are separately owned businesses that work with companies to assist them in recruiting employees. Companies that use a headhunter will pay a fee for them to find prospective employees. Newspapers are widely used for finding local jobs within your state. As you know, virtually every newspaper has a weekly employment section that lists help-wanted ads. In addition to local papers, there are regional, national, and international papers that employers use to meet their staffing needs. Professional journals and magazines also can be helpful for finding listings related to dental hygiene. These journals can help you identify a position that may interest you: RDH, Journal of Practical Hygiene, Dimensions in Dental Hygiene, and Access (from the American Dental Hygienists Association). College placement centers and alumni associations are also important resources for finding jobs. Feel free to contact your college placement center, as well as your dental hygiene alumni association, to review listings related to dental hygiene. Our professional association, the American Dental Hygienists Association (ADHA), lists dental hygiene positions in Access magazine, the Journal of Dental Hygiene Research, as well as on the Web site, It is very important to become a member of the ADHA to stay abreast of the latest developments affecting our profession. I have used their Web site and have obtained consultation positions for my own business, Professional Savvy. Job fairs occur throughout the year, but they are usually directed toward marketing, engineering, accounting, computer technologies, and business as opposed to health-care professions. You may want to inquire about job fairs in your area to determine if they address health-care positions in dental hygiene. Networking is an important way to discover available Keep a list of your professional contacts, because someday one of these people may be able to help you in your career. dental hygiene positions. When you become a dental hygiene professional and attend local, regional, or national meetings, you will have the opportunity to mingle with dental hygienists from all over the country. The dental hygienists you meet at professional meetings or continuingeducation courses may work in clinical dental hygiene positions, but they may also work in career areas such as education, public health, corporations, or even their own businesses. Take the opportunity to exchange business cards so that you may contact them in the future. Keep a list of your professional contacts, because someday one of these people may be able to help you in your career. Internet sites There are several online job sites that list dental hygiene positions within your state: American Dental Hygienists Association www. adha.org/career Dental Hygienist Jobs com RDH Jobs Hygienist Online Dental Power Dental Reach Dental Workers If you are interested in learning about dental hygiene positions on cruise ships, please visit the Seadent Web site at If you are interested in practicing dental hygiene in another country, visit the International Federation of Dental Hygienists (IFDH) at and the Global Hygienists Community at There are several other Internet sites that list positions within as well as outside the dental hygiene profession: Career Brain Career Builder Career City Career Web Connect Careers Head Hunter Hot Jobs Monster Job Hunt Please take time to review these Web sites to familiarize yourself with the resources available to you. Developing a successful cover letter and resume One of the most important elements in a job search is a successful cover letter and resume. Your cover letter is your 16 RDH Student Focus/March

3 Chart 1 This is an example of a cover letter written to a prospective employer... PROFESSIONAL SAVVY SAMPLE COVER LETTER Dr. Joe Miller 323 Broad Street Randolph, NJ Dear Dr. Smith: 11 Murphy Drive Randolph, NJ February 7, 2005 This letter is in response to the advertisement you placed in the Daily Record for a dental hygienist. My name is Christine Smithfield. I am a dental hygienist, and I feel my qualifications and experience will meet the needs you listed in the advertisement. I have recently completed my dental hygiene education at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. The education I received at the School of Dental Medicine focused on a team-based approach to patient care and treatment of oral diseases. I have worked with many types of patients with various diseases as well as physically and mentally challenged adult patients. These patients gave me the opportunity to develop effective treatment plans and provide preventive oral hygiene services to a unique patient population. I have also volunteered my time in one nursing home community in Northern New Jersey educating senior citizens on proper oral hygiene care and preventive treatment. You will find that my enthusiasm, motivation, and willingness to learn will make me a valuable team member for your dental practice. I have enclosed a copy of my resume for your review and look forward to meeting you to discuss this opportunity. I can be reached during the day on my cell number, (973) , or in the evening at my home number, (973) I look forward to your call. I will contact you next Tuesday, February 15, to answer any questions you may have about my qualifications. CS:cs Enclosure Sincerely, Christine Smithfield, RDH Professional Savvy has a registered trademark. Pleaase do not copy or reproduce Professional Savvy Sample Cover Letter without the permission of Professional Savvy, LLC. first contact with a prospective employer. It provides the proper introduction for your resume without you meeting with the prospective employer. The cover letter also explains why you are submitting your resume and markets your skills and qualifications to the prospective employer. Let s review the format of a cover letter and how it should be developed (see Chart 1 for an example). The first paragraph introduces you to the prospective employer. You identify where you found the job advertisement and the position for which you are applying. In the second paragraph, you discuss your accomplishments related to that position. In the third paragraph, you request an interview and provide the appropriate telephone numbers. Be sure to mention the time you can be reached at specific numbers (i.e.; home or cell phone). Your cover letter should include these elements to make a positive impression on your potential employer: Individualize your correspondence. Clarify the purpose of your letter. Establish a positive tone. Highlight your qualifications relevant to the job description. Do not discuss salary information. Keep it short and specific. Do a spell-check and proofread it. Place the cover letter on white or ivory bonded paper. Your resume is the single most important document you will need to get a job in the 21st century. Cover letters and resumes don t get the job they advertise you for the interview. Your resume will inform your prospective employer who you are, your level of competence, and your accomplishments and experience. It is your calling card to open the doors of prospective employers. There are three types of resumes: Reverse chronological Functional Combination (reverse chronological/functional combined) Most employers prefer the reverse chronological resume because it identifies the most current job listed first and is followed by the next most recent. See Chart 2 for an example of a reverse chronological resume. The functional resume focuses on the skills you have, rather than where and when you used them. These formats are most suited for new graduates who have little real world experience, for those returning to the workforce after long absences, and for others who have transitioned from one career or industry to another. See Chart 3 for a sample of a functional resume. 18 RDH Student Focus/March

4 Chart 2 PROFESSIONAL SAVVY SAMPLE REVERSE CHRONOLOGICAL RESUME OBJECTIVE Christine Smithfield, RDH 11 Murphy Drive Randolph, New Jersey (973) To obtain a dental hygiene position in a periodontal practice that uses state-of-the-art technology to treat periodontal disease and cares for patients with patience and professionalism. EDUCATION Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene 2004 Associate of Science in Dental Hygiene 2002 University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey, Newark, N.J. PROFESSIONAL Dental Hygienist 2002-Present EXPERIENCE Dr. Jeff Gordon, Periodontal Practice, River Edge, N.J. Performed oral health assessments, oral cancer screenings, reviewed patient health histories. Exposed and interpreted dental X-rays. Provided preventive services, including fluoride treatments and sealants. Taught proper oral hygiene techniques to maintain optimal oral health, and assisted in periodontal surgery. VOLUNTEER Dental Hygiene Educator 2003-Present Glenora Nursing Home, Chester, N.J. Conducted oral health screening exams and provided oral hygiene instruction. LICENSURE National Board State Licensure, N.J AWARDS & Sigma Phi Alpha 2002 HONORS PRESENTATIONS Dental Hygiene Aids for the Handicapped 2001 Greater New York Dental Meeting PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS REFERENCES American Dental Hygienists Association, International Federation of Dental Hygienists Available upon request Professional Savvy has a registered trademark. Please do not copy or reproduce Professional Savvy Sample Reverse Chronological Resume without the permission of Professional Savvy, LLC. The combination resume is an integration of both the reverse chronological and functional resumes. Choose the format that you are most comfortable with, but once you have gained work experience in a dental office, you may want to consider the reverse chronological resume. There are several key elements for developing a resume: The resume should be one to two pages long. Don t use fancy script typefaces. Select a readable letter size. Highlight certain headers. Limit capitalizing and underlining of resume sections. Keep margins one inch from the paper s border. Use asterisks or bullets. Keep it easy to read. Make sure it is neat in appearance. Place on white or ivory bonded paper. When do you use a CV? A curriculum vitae, also referred to as a CV, is more comprehensive than a resume and is usually used when the job candidate has an academic background (college or university professor) and is seeking a teaching position. The curriculum vitae will document your entire dental hygiene career experience, accomplishments, presentations, and publications. Vitas tend to provide great detail about academic and research experiences, so are most appropriate for those seeking a position in these fields. Include these key areas in a curriculum vitae: Personal data Education Professional employment Teaching interests Teaching experience and development Professional experience and development Professional licensure Professional membership Professional courses attended Professional courses presented Community service University service (if applicable) Research and creative accomplishments Publications References (if applicable) Networking strategies Networking is establishing contacts and relationships with people in business or other disciplines who can assist you in your career or life. Your networking contacts may include these categories of people: family, friends, col- 20 RDH Student Focus/March

5 Chart 3 PROFESSIONAL SAVVY SAMPLE FUNCTIONAL RESUME FORMAT OBJECTIVE Name Address Telephone Numbers Address State the position you are looking for and describe your accomplishments, experience, and training. ORAL HYGIENE Discuss the different patient types you treated, EXPERIENCE treatment plans, and improvement in oral health of patients. TEAMWORK Discuss ways in which you enhanced teamwork. COMMUNICATION MANAGEMENT OF SUPPLIES TRAINING VOLUNTEERING Discuss techniques used with patients and colleagues to enhance the work environment. Discuss how you managed supplies and inventory. Discuss ways in which you enhanced your dental hygiene experience. List accomplishments in working with patients and community. PROFESSIONAL Title of Position Year(s) Worked EXPERIENCE Dentist s/specialist s Name, (Most recent first) Town and State List job responsibilities, accomplishments EDUCATION List degree and major Year Received List Name of School, Town & State LICENSURE List licensure, Year State where you are licensed to practice AWARDS & List awards received Year HONORS PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS List professional organizations REFERENCES Available upon request Professional Savvy has a registered trademark. Please do not copy or reproduce Professional Savvy Sample Functional Resume Format without the permission of Professional Savvy, LLC. leagues from work (past or present), people within your profession, people you meet on a daily basis (your patients, banker, daycare provider, dry cleaner), company representatives (companies whose products are used in your office), professionals (physicians, lawyers, accountants), people you know through volunteer work, or people in professional magazines or journals. I definitely recommend that you obtain a business card holder as well as develop a contact list sheet. You can place your networking contacts business cards in the holder, as well as incorporate their information in a contact list. You never know when you may need to call one of your professional contacts to help you gather more information, identify other contacts, or guide you in your dental hy- giene career. Never be afraid to talk to one of your professional colleagues at a meeting. That person may help you in moving your career forward or may even introduce you to another person who could assist you in moving in the same or an entirely different direction. In my 21 years of dental hygiene, I have always maintained positive relationships with those on my networking list. You never know how you will help a contact or how a contact may help you in pursuing the next steps of your dental hygiene career. Best of luck in developing your career plan strategies to obtain your first dental hygiene position, which I hope will be a rewarding one. Remember, you are in control of your own destiny. Be responsible if something isn t working, then make a change to fix it. You want to create a level of satisfaction and happiness in your chosen career path. I hope that 2005 is the beginning of a wonderful career in the dental hygiene profession! Christine Hovliaras-Delozier, RDH, MBA, is president of Professional Savvy, LLC, which is based in Flanders, N.J. Chris is an oral care consultant who works with various companies in clinical trials, product development, professional marketing/relations programs and materials, professional sales, and continuing education symposiums. Chris works with professional organizations in presenting continuing education courses and other projects. Chris works with dental hygienists and student dental hygienists in writing cover letters, resumes, curriculum vitaes, and career plan counseling. Please visit Chris Web site (professionalsavvychd.com) beginning in April. She can be reached at 22 RDH Student Focus/March

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