Dental Hygiene Resume Elements that Matter Most

Guest Author Doug Perry from

Guest Author Doug Perry from

So I’ve been doing dental hygiene resumes for several years now and have found that a handful of elements matter more than others.

The feedback has been good – there’s a steady stream of clients who are reporting back to me that they get lots of compliments on the resumes I help them with.

So this week let’s go over some of the dental hygiene resume elements that seem to really matter.

Resume Format
There are three kinds of resumes – reverse chronological, functional and combination.

Reverse chronological is the most popular format for most professions because there’s a bigger variety of skills, responsibilities, and results from job to job. But in clinical dental hygiene there isn’t as much variation from one office to another. So to save space and reduce redundancy on your dental hygiene resume, go with a functional style – it will give you more room to really sell yourself.

A functional resume begins with your name and contact information, then a short summary about you (I call it the About Me section). Next, you create a large section that focuses on results, skills, and experiences which is a summary of your career, not just one particular job. The next two sections Work History and Education History are short and sweet – just the details like, name of employer, location, job title, and years you worked there.

If you still have room, fill it with other meaningful dental-specific information. This could be community service, participation and leadership within your local component, licensure and certification – things like that. Hobbies or personal information would be a no-no here.

Resume Length
With very few exceptions I always recommend a one-page resume. More than that just isn’t necessary and if you design it well you it can easily fit, too.

You would never put your most important, interesting, or compelling information on the second page so the content that gets you an interview is going to be found on the first page.

But there’s another reason. Whenever a dental hygiene job opening is announced, offices get dozens and dozens of applicants. Studies show employers spend less than 10 seconds reviewing each resume on the first round. So they won’t read the second page anyway. Keep your dental hygiene resume simple for you and employers and hold it to one page.

Resume Design and Color
I’ve written many times about how important it is to include a design and color scheme. It’s amazing how few people will actually do it.

Probably, it’s because text-only, black and white resumes were how they were done for so long. And it was for good reason – no one owned a typewriter or printer that could do anything different. But today we can create a beautiful resume design on our computers at home.

And now’s the time to do it – with so few take advantage of this “new” technology your resume can really pop and grab the attention of employers, ensuring you get more of their time. If you want some examples, take a look at the resume templates we sell at GetHiredRDH.

White Space
I love extra white space on a resume – it points to clean and organized (what dental hygienist doesn’t want to be thought of as clean and organized?). It’s also easier to navigate and find things for the employer receiving it.

You can easily create extra white space by changing the line spacing between lines of text from single space to 1.15 or 1.25. To do this, don’t be afraid to pull the margins of your document out a bit, too. Don’t simply use the default settings – change things around, this is a marketing document not letter so the rules for margins and spacing are much different.

Good Font
Times New Roman might be okay for a boring letter, but again this not a boring letter. Your dental hygiene resume is a marketing document designed to sell YOU.

So don’t settle. Pick a font that is different. Don’t go crazy with it (there are lots of crazy fonts out there), just keep it conservative, simple and different. One great one I like to use that comes standard with Microsoft Word is Calibri.

If you avoid Times New Roman you will stand out because most dental hygiene resumes (and I see hundreds of them) use it. It gives the appearance, whether conscious or sub-conscious, that you went above and beyond most other candidates. And being different is the name of the game, right?

Assembling the elements of a great dental hygiene resume need not intimidate you, but it does take some time. You really need to do what others won’t do by getting the format right, keeping it to one page, utilizing a design and color scheme, adding some white space and choosing the right font. Take care of those things and your opportunities for dental hygiene job interviews will increase dramatically.