The first time I wrote my own resume, as a sophomore in college, it was a mess. I simply had nothing to go on to know how to write a resume well, what should go in it, and how to make it look. Now that I write resumes for a living, I’m going to provide you with the examples I never had, so you don’t have to guess your way through it. This week, we’re focused on resumes for Dental Assistants. I’ll show you what a Dental Assistant does, what a Dental Assistant’s resume should include, and what your resume should look like by providing examples.
What Does a Dental Assistant Do?
The American Dental Association website recommends that you may enjoy a career as a dental assistant if you “have strong communication skills, enjoy working with your hands as well as your mind, and want a career with responsibility”. As opposed to a dentist, a dental assistant typically takes dental x-rays, records the patient’s medical history, and sees to the patients’ comfort needs during dental treatment. A dental assistant will also commonly provide patients with follow-up care and oral hygiene instruction, assist with dental procedures, and perform office management tasks. Dental assistants may work in all dental specialties, including orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, periodontics and oral surgery.
What Does a Dental Assistant Resume Show?
Because the job of a dental assistant can vary so widely from practice to practice and includes such a wide range of duties, it is absolutely crucial that your resume be very specific about tasks you’ve performed during your education, on-the-job training or previous employment. You cannot assume that the person reading your resume will already “know exactly what a dental assistant does”–especially since the dentist themselves will likely not be the first person to read your resume. It may have to pass through a hiring agency or an administrative assistant with only a cursory knowledge of the industry itself, meaning that you have to be very explicit with your technical skills and specific areas of expertise.
A Terrible Dental Assistant Resume Says:
“Primary dental assistant.”
This bullet point barely tells us anything. It’s not even in sentence form, it’s simply an orphaned phrase. Is the applicant trying to say that they were the best dental assistant at their practice? Or were they simply the only dental assistant in the office? This isn’t really any accomplishment if we don’t know those facts–and the hiring manager will not give you the benefit of the doubt. Also, nothing is mentioned about what they actually did as the “primary dental assistant”. Did they have more responsibility? Who knows?
“Assisting the dentist, inventory management, set up/break down of operatory and sterilization.”
Lumping several phrases together without making it clear how they are related is a good way to make your resume vague and choppy. “Assisting the dentist” means nothing, because it could mean anything. This person could have wandered around holding a box of Kleenex in case the dentist sneezed, and they could honestly describe it using this sentence. Instead of being vague, why not give the names of specific procedures that you assisted with?
“Accepting payments for service, adjusting accounts, generating account statements with dental software.”
Again, there is no reason for this not to be a past-tense, full sentence instead of a list of fragments. An opportunity was missed by not naming the specific dental software–that gives your resume more chances to be picked up by keyword scanning software, and it gives you an edge above your competitors if the office you apply with happens to use the same one.
An Excellent Dental Assistant Resume Says:
“Provided assistance to a General and Traditional Orthodontic Dentist serving up to fifty patients per week by setting up and breaking down operatory rooms, sterilizing patients, and scheduling appointments.”
This line is much better. It tells us exactly what the applicant did, what type of dentistry they specialize in, and provides context by establishing how many patients the office serves.
“Designed, prepared, and fired Cerec Crowns which included adjusting occlusion, trimming sprue, staining, glazing, adding contacts, and preparing patient for final cementation.”
This line explicitly mentions several specific dental techniques and procedures, establishing expertise and technical skill. If the office doing the hiring specializes in any of these procedures or performs them often, the applicant will have a huge leg up on the competition. Even if it doesn’t, the applicant is still at an advantage by demonstrating that they are thorough and detail-oriented (without actually having to use those tired, cliche phrases in the resume itself!)
“Trained one new dental assistant on sterilization equipment, OSHA requirements, operatory set-up and breakdown, taking impressions, and assisting in different procedures.”
This line establishes that the applicant had a level of responsibility high enough to have trained another dental assistant–much better than the vague phrase “Primary Dental Assistant”. It also establishes mastery of several important concepts and skills commonly required by the position.
Using these Dental Assistant resume examples, go back into your own resume and add as many concrete, specific details as you can. Names of procedures, tools, software, and specific tasks are what set apart an ordinary resume from the winning resume. And don’t forget–if you still need a little help with the formatting, we offer a fully-loaded professional resume template, including a full tips and tricks guide written by our own full-time editors. The template can give you professional editing results at a DIY price, leaving you more money for sugar-free gum. Give us a call if you get stuck–we’re always here to answer your resume questions.