First impressions: How to make your dental resume stand out.

As a dental professional, you know the importance of a healthy smile. It’s a brief glimpse into someone’s personality, dental hygiene habits, and overall health. A great smile is a crucial part of making a great first impression.

Your dental resume—like your smile—is critical for first impressions. It provides your potential employer an important first look at your qualifications. And like your smile, a little maintenance can go a long way. Whether you’re a dental professional who’s looking for a new job, a recent graduate of a dentistry program, or someone who just wants to be prepared, it’s always a good time to make your resume glisten. Let’s take yours for a checkup and cleaning. Read on for today’s best practices for polishing your dental resume.

Check in

If it’s been awhile since your last resume check-up, the first thing you’ll need to do is make sure your records are up to date. Take a look at your employment history and education. Make sure to update your certification information, include any significant continuing education courses, and verify that your facts are straight. If there’s anything amiss, now’s the time to correct it. Gather any information that’s missing and get ready to make your resume shine.


Whether you’re a dentist, a dental hygienist, a dental assistant, or a dental office professional, you’ll need to stand out from the crowd if you want to land a great job. and that means making your resume sparkle (figuratively).

First, consider your tools. While brightly colored paper and oddly shaped pages would draw attention, there’s also a good chance that anything too unique will earn you a rejection. It’s best to keep things professional. It’s perfectly fine to use a template from a word processing program, and it’s important to use a simple font that easy on the eyes. Keep in mind that your resume will need to look good both on a screen and on a printed page, so it’s best to choose a simple, classy format that works for both.

Next, instead of using visuals to stand out, do some meaningful prep work. Take a look at the website of the practice you’re applying to and notice how they portray their own brand. Maybe they’re especially dedicated to patient comfort or proud of their latest technology. Use that information to appeal directly to your target audience in your personal statement and employment history.

Dental practice owner? Read our article about best practices for firing and hiring.

Scrape, clean, and floss

Next, it’s time to check your existing resume and clear out anything that doesn’t help make your case. Just as you would during a dental cleaning, take a good look at your resume and remove anything that doesn’t belong. Here’s what you don’t need in your resume:

  • Objective statement–Many experts recommend replacing a tired, outdated objective statement with something that appeals to the reader and is geared toward the specific job you’re applying for. Try writing a personal statement with some great action words to pique your potential employer’s interest.
  • Unrelated work history–Space can be tight on resumes, and your high-school job at the mall isn’t of interest to your future boss. If you’re changing careers and want to include some of your non-dental work history to show that you make a great employee, look for ways to show your former job’s relevance in its description.
  • Mailing address–With email and cell phones, there’s no longer any need to include this. In fact, if you publish this information, you could be passed over in favor of someone who lives closer to the office or lives in the practice owner’s neighborhood.
  • Extra phone numbers and email addresses–You just need one of each. While you’re checking these, make sure your email address isn’t something embarrassing. Get a new one if necessary.
  • Replace inflated language. Your resume is a great place to tout your accomplishments and great qualities, but you don’t want to sound like you’re bragging. Take the advice of resume expert Louise Kursmark: “The best way to communicate your value is not to tell others how great you are. Rather, it’s to tell them what you have achieved. Describe the challenges you faced, your actions, and your results. Let them make the leap to terms like visionary, pioneer, innovator, game changer.”

Make sure everything is strong

A bite is stronger if there aren’t a lot of gaps. To reinforce your resume’s structural integrity, use engaging verbs (check out this list from for ideas). They’ll demonstrate your effectiveness and help you save space. As you rewrite your qualifications, duties from past jobs, clinical experience, and achievements, try to cut your word count as much as possible.

Bullet points are a great way to save space and highlight important information. Use them to make the critical points stand out and to help organize your resume for easy reading.

A key way to sell your skills is to use concrete evidence wherever it’s available. If you want to say that you increased the rate of kept appointments at your last practice, be specific about how and how many. (For example, “Trained office staff in confirming patient appointments, reducing no-shows by 49% over two months.”) Actual numbers provide excellent reinforcement.

Have the doctor (or your cousin) take a look

Once you’ve finished writing, it’s time for a good proofread. There are many ways of formatting a resume, and you may run into conflicting sets of advice. Once you’re certain that you’ve followed the basic rules of grammar, punctuation, and capitalization, consistency is key. Ensure that each section uses the same formatting and that details like punctuation, bold text, and capitalization are consistent throughout the document.

It’s always a good idea to have someone else take a look at your resume before sending it to a potential employer. Hiring a professional resume coach or an editing service will help you make sure your dental hygiene resume or dentistry resume really is ready to go. If you’d rather not hire out your proofreading, consider having a few friends or family members look over your draft.

If you’re just cutting your teeth (so to speak)

If you’re just starting out in your career, you might be worried that your resume looks more like a set of primary teeth than a bright and shiny grown-up smile. Be sure to fill that blank space with your qualifications and accomplishments from your time as a student. Honor societies, professional memberships, advanced coursework, specialized projects, and internships can all make your resume sparkle. Be sure to point out any unique accomplishments or aspects of your work that make you stand out, even if you did that work while still in school. The American Student Dental Association has a useful list of things to include in your resume.

The follow-up

Congratulations! You have a shiny, go-get-’em resume! Now what?

Take it to the next level and create your online brand. Don’t just add your resume to a pile and hope to be noticed—creating an online professional presence will help you stand out. With a free profile on Cloud Dentistry, you can find work, manage your dental career, and build your own brand online. Cloud Dentistry is the premier online job matching network that lets you search for dental jobs, set your own rate, share your availability with dental practices, and show off your qualifications and reviews. You can even communicate with dental practices in real time. Take charge of your career in dentistry today.

Trey Tepichin graduated from Duke University with a B.S. in biology and economics and a minor in chemistry. He went on to obtain his J.D. from Harvard Law School. While in law school, he taught two years of introductory micro- and macro-economics at Harvard and was awarded with three Certificates of Distinction in Teaching.

A successful commercial and securities litigator in Boston for nearly ten years, Trey secured numerous multimillion-dollar victories for his clients, which included everything from pharmaceutical companies to individual investors to manufacturers. As a lawyer and economist, Trey understands the intricacies of creating new markets, handling employment matters, and maximizing business efficiencies.

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