Presenting Your Experience in the Best Light

September 12, 2017
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For recent grads looking at salaries that are going to be “commensurate with
experience,” it can be tricky to present yourself as someone who is worth a
premium. You can’t be experienced until you get experience, right? Not necessarily.
You can also think about some aspects of your track record in life as experience
worth noting in an interview. Specifically, things that are important in a dental
office as well as in life include the ability to:

  • Forge relationships
  • Communicate clearly
  • Pay attention to detail

If you have done those things outside of a dental office, you’ve had pretty good
practice for doing them inside a dental office, too. Why not prepare some examples
and be ready to proactively present them? Whether or not they are in the job
description explicitly, they will be characteristics that your interviewers will be
seeking.

Here are some ideas for presenting your experience in these areas in the best light.

Forging Relationships

State your understanding that the lifeblood of a dental practice is building
relationships with patients. Patients who trust their dental practitioners can
optimize their dental health, and dental practitioners with patients who trust them
can count on steady cash flow. Be explicit about your skills in this area. Draw an
analogy with a time when you needed to build trust with an individual, perhaps
doing volunteer work with an underserved segment of the population that was
distrustful at first, such as becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister. You can also
discuss building trust within a group by using an example related to becoming part
of a community at school or church, and what you did to become a well-trusted and
respected peer. The focus should be on (1) your ability to get to know people and
connect with them, and (2) specifically how you were able to do that.

Example:

“I genuinely like building relationships with people, so it is easy for me. When I first
joined the running club I am in, everyone thought I was too young and would not have
anything in common with the rest of the group. But I made it a point to find common
ground with every member. I did this mostly by learning about what interested them.
It turned out we read books on sustainability, so we bonded over that.”

Communicating Clearly

While you will hopefully be demonstrating that you are a good communicator
during the interview itself, calling it out on its own as a skill is a good idea, because
an interview is different from a patient care environment. Telling your interviewer
that you appreciate how important it is for a patient to understand how something
new or different may be happening, or why (s)he may be experiencing an unusual
wait time shows a level of experience as a communicator. Be prepared to present an
example, which is usually requested and always makes for a more powerful
statement.

Example:

“My brother works in a garage fixing car engines and has to turn away business
because his services are in such high demand. His clients tell him the reason for his
popularity is that he explains what is wrong and the elements of the cost to repair in a
way that makes sense to them. I am cultivating this same skill in working with
patients.”

Paying Attention to Detail

Caring for patients, whether for their teeth or for their records, is a detailed
business governed by regulations as well as ethics. However, an office runs on all
sorts of additional details that are determined purely by the habits of the people in
them. These include everything from cleaning and laying out instruments to making
sure the right computer records are accessible at the right time. Sharing a personal
story that includes a “win” for you based on your own attention to detail is one you
want to include. You can use an example from school, life or even camp as long as it
includes you being trusted and doing a great job with a project that required good
organization and managing a significant amount of detailed information. Add as
many numbers as possible, so your interviewer understands the scope and scale of
the projects with which you have experience.

Example:

“I was asked to run my school blood drive two years in a row- the first person ever to
be asked to do it twice. It was a campus-wide drive that required getting parking
passes, marketing, getting a volunteer staff of 12 and ultimately pushing through
about 800 students, or 30% of the campus. I like projects that require a lot of detail
and organization- I’m good at them.”

Hopefully these have given you some ideas of experiences you can focus on to prove
that your experience outside of a full time dental role can be valued inside of one.

About Job Coach Amy

Amy Feind Reeves is the Founder and CEO of JobCoachAmy, where she
leverages her experience of over 25 years as a hiring manager to help new
and experienced professionals find careers that make them happy. Her
corporate practice focuses on managing millennials and making
performance reviews meaningful. Amy has enjoyed successful careers as
a commercial banker, global management consultant, entrepreneur,
corporate executive, and non-profit executive. She graduated cum laude
from Wellesley College and earned an MBA at the Tuck School of
Dartmouth College.  Her work has been published on Business Insider,
Quick and Dirty Tips and Job-Hunt.