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Finding your first job in dentistry

Your first job sets the tone for your ongoing career. Getting the best possible job that suits you relies on the top tips outlined in this article.

Read this article to:

Get tips on making your CV stand out from the crowd

Choose the right practice

Seeking employment can be stressful, as it can lead us to wonder whether we are really ‘good enough’, especially if our peers are seemingly finding employment with ease. This natural self-doubt, coupled with intermittent statistics which demonstrate a decline in the percentage of graduating dentists available for and in full time employment after graduation, understandably magnify concern in those about to graduate.

Dentolegal Adviser Dr Annalene Weston firstly looks at ways we can stand out from the crowd during the job selection process. There is a job for you, and it’s a good job and the right job, but how will you know it when you see it, and what can you do to get it?

Setting yourself apart

Be honest on your CV

Your CV and covering letter are often the first contact that you will make with a practice, and therefore this is your first opportunity to impress. It is all too tempting to inflate or exaggerate your expertise and experience, but be mindful that no one expects a new graduate to be an expert. Consider joining study clubs and associations, as they are a great source of contacts and these associations represent who you are and your interests.

Remember, an honest representation of who you are is always best. If you are only employed based on an inaccurate description of your skills – this is not the right job for you.

Get good references

You may not be a well-respected practitioner yet, but you do know many people who are. Be sensible in your choices of referee, and try to choose people you wish to emulate as they will best reflect who you are. Better still, can you seek employment with a potential mentor?

Present well

We are professionals and should present ourselves accordingly. Turning up late in scruffy clothes won’t help you get that job. A smile, good eye contact and a firm handshake will go a long way to making a good first impression.

Be honest in your interview

An honest representation of yourself (without being self-depreciating) is far more impressive than an arrogant inflation of your skill set. Good communicators make good dental practitioners (and also good assistant dentists).

Be nice to the staff!

The staff will all give their opinion of you as a prospective co-worker – whether they are asked or not. Do not ignore the front office staff in your eagerness to get to the boss.

Choosing the right practice

Commencing work at our first practice is a long anticipated and memorable experience and the nature of this experience can cast a long shadow and influence your future choices. Considerations for your first practice include; regional or metro? Public or private? Part time or full time? Specialty or general? But what is the right choice?

Of course it depends, both on you as a person, and your lifestyle and career priorities and goals. We can however highlight a few areas which can influence your decision making process. Consider:

Is this the right practice for me?

  • Does my future principal seem approachable – particularly if something goes wrong?
  • Are there other practitioners I can bounce ideas off?
  • Am I expected to make an unrealistic amount of money?
  • Am I expected to perform certain treatments ‘for the good of the practice’?
  • Is the proposed remuneration fair?
  • Do I have access to the materials and equipment that I reasonably need?
  • Am I taking over an established list, or starting from scratch and which would I prefer?
  • Am I ethically aligned with this practice and the practitioners within it?
  • Will this practice help me develop, both professionally and personally?
  • Will this practice environment or ethos put me under unnecessary pressure?
  • Will I be happy here? Am I a good fit?

Am I right for the practice?

You can have the best hands of your class, the best academic marks, or both, but if you do not have the mutual respect and trust of staff and patients alike, then you are not the right practitioner for that practice.

The best first practice is an environment in which you feel able to develop your skills in the direction you choose and, at the same time, the practice is enriched by your presence. Strive for a mutually beneficial working relationship wherever possible, as life (and dentistry) is hard enough without being in difficult working circumstances. Let your practising environment be one in which you feel comfortable, and the rest will follow.

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