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Setting yourself apart as a young dentist

Post date: 27/03/2019 | Time to read article: 3 mins

The information within this article was correct at the time of publishing. Last updated 05/07/2019

Seeking employment can be stressful, as it can lead us to wonder whether we are ‘good enough’ - especially if we are new to practice. This natural self-doubt can lead to concerns in those about to graduate –“Is dentistry the right career for me? Am I good enough? are there too many dentists? Will I even get a job?”

This article looks at ways we can stand out from the crowd and distinguish ourselves from our peers 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 ensure you get it?

Being Prepared

Be honest on your CV

Your CV and covering letter are often the first contact that you will make with a practice, so this is your first opportunity to be noticed. 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 (and anyone who did would be a terrible employer!).

Consider joining study clubs and associations, as they are a great source of contacts and will better represent who you are and what you are interested in. 

Remember, an honest representation of who you are is always best.  Remember, if you are only deemed employable 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 emanate 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 to an interview - still in your gym gear because you’ve been to circuit training - may help you get defined abs, but it won’t help you get the job!  A smile, good eye contact and a firm handshake (not to be interpreted as a grimace, a glare and crushing someone’s knuckles) will all go a long way to making a good first impression.

Be honest in your interview

No one expects you to be an expert!  Instead, potential employers want to get to know you and understand what you can do, so give a clear and honest representation of yourself - without being either self-deprecating or arrogant.

Be polite and personable to the staff and others that you meet in the practice

The staff will all form an opinion of you as a prospective co-worker – whether they are asked to or not. Don’t ignore the reception staff in your eagerness to get to the boss. Remember to treat others as you’d wish to be treated yourself!

Choosing the right practice

When considering your first practice do you choose public or private? Part time or full time?  

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 may influence your decision making process.

Is this the right practice for me?

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

Am I right for this 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, and ensure your practising environment is one in which you feel comfortable……the rest will follow!

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