Let’s be frank: a dental practice with a highly-skilled dental assistant would be absolute chaos. While much of the glory in a dental practice goes to the dentists, it’s dental assistants who keep the whole office functioning smoothly.
It’s no doubt a profession that requires wearing many hats. Whether they’re helping dentists to prep equipment for a consultation or surgery, replenishing supplies before they run low, or keeping customer satisfaction levels high, the work of a dental assistant is never done.
However, trying to convince a recruiter you’re an invaluable employee is an entirely different story. While you may know what an asset you are to any dental practice you work at, you need to make a recruiter understand this when you’re on the job hunt.
The #1 way to do so is to create a dental assistant resume that blows all of the others out of the water. Your resume is your key to scoring your dream job - provided you know how to make one that reflects what recruiters are looking for.
In fact, there’s never been a better time to get your resume in order, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting that employment of dental assistants will grow by 11 percent from 2018 to 2028.
If you’re ready to revolutionize your resume, but don’t know what steps to take, we have you covered. Our expert guide below outlines everything you need to know to create the perfect dental assistant resume.
After reading our dental assistant resume writing guide, you will understand:
- What essential sections you need to include and how to make them shine
- Whether it’s best to include a resume objective or resume summary
- How to make your dental assistant resume stand out
- How to cut the time you spend working on your resume by 90%
1. Template Examples
2. How to Write an Eye-Catching Dental Assistant Resume
How to format your dental assistant resume
In order to write an eye-catching dental assistant resume, you will need to select the most appropriate format to use. The type of format you choose matters because it can impact how a recruiter reads your resume. While there are a handful of different formats you can choose from, the overwhelming majority of experts agree that reverse-chronological is the most ideal format for a dental assistant.
The reason it’s strongly recommended you choose this type of format is because it shows recruiters what you’ve achieved during your career in a clear and logical manner. In this format, your professional experience is presented in reverse-chronological order, starting from details about your most recent job, followed by your next most recent job, and so forth.
It’s not only recruiters who will give this format the tick of approval, but also applicant tracking software (ATS), which is now estimated to be used by a whopping 40% of companies. ATS is basically a type of software that was developed to automate parts of the hiring process. It does this by scanning each resume for certain components and in turn approving and rejecting resumes based on whether these components are present.
The fact of the matter is that if your resume is formatted in a way that the company’s ATS cannot process, your application won’t see the light of day. It may sound harsh, but this is simply how this software works. To avoid getting caught out, be sure to stick to a reverse-chronological format.
You will also need to ensure your resume complies with standard layout guidelines expected by recruiters. We’ve listed the most vital ones below that you should keep in mind:
- Number of Pages: A maximum of 1 page.
- Header size: 14-16 point size.
- Text size: 11-12 point size.
- Margins: 1 inch on all sides.
- Line Spacing: 1 or 1.15.
- Fonts to Use: Only use professional, standard fonts such as Georgia and Calibri.
- Fonts to Avoid: It will hinder your application if you use childlike fonts, such as Allspice and Chalkduster.
Pro tip: If you have significant gaps in your resume or you’re switching careers, it may be preferable to choose a functional resume format instead. You can learn more about different resume formats here.
What recruiters will look for
Recruiters are looking for dental assistants who not only show that they are dedicated to their profession, but also that they can offer the precise skills, education, and experiences needed to excel in the profession. Recruiters are primarily interested in tracking down a candidate who they believe will quickly adapt to the new role, without the need for hand-holding.
Your resume is the primary means of communicating these qualities to a recruiter. Think of your resume as your opportunity to showcase why you’re the perfect dental assistant for the job. Your skills, education, and experiences should simultaneously act as evidence of your suitability.
What skills to mention and how to do it correctly
There is one main rule you will need to remember when it comes to selecting which skills to feature in your resume: only highlight skills which are relevant to the job you’re applying for. Recruiters as well as ATS software will be looking to see if you can offer all, or many of the hard and soft skills that are required in a given job.
You can easily identify which skills are required by analyzing the job ad. Throughout the entire job ad you will see that certain skills are desired by the recruiter. These skills can be divided into two types: hard skills (technical skills) and soft skills (interpersonal and other intangible skills).
We scoured real dental assistant job ads to find some of the most common skills that recruiters are seeking. Take a look to see which ones you already have (and which ones you need to work on!):
- Prepares patients for examination and treatment.
- Assists dentists/ residents during dental procedures.
- Maintains supplies.
- Prepares cements, silicates, and other materials for use.
- Retrieves patient information using a computer.
- Checks for receipt/completion of requisitioned items.
- Communicates effectively in both oral and written English
- Greets and directs patients/family/visitors in a pleasant manner.
- Answers telephones in a timely and professional manner.
- Contributes to the team effort.
- Organizational skills.
- Time management.
Once you have identified which relevant skills you have, you should feature them in a number of sections:
- List them out in a dedicated skills section titled “Skills”.
- Incorporate one or two into each of your job achievements.
- Mention a few in your resume objective or resume summary.
How to highlight your achievements
In your career as a dental assistant, you’ve no doubt racked up a number of achievements to your name. While it would be great to feature all of them on your resume, you will need to be highly selective about which ones to focus on.
Just like the process of selecting which skills to feature in your resume, you should only highlight your most relevant achievements. Take a careful look at the “Responsibilities include” section in a job ad and notice which keywords are used. These are the responsibilities you should hone in on in your “Professional Experience” section.
While you may not have had precisely the same responsibilities in your previous roles as the job ad lists, the more connections you are able to make, the better. For example, if a job ad is looking for a dental assistant who, “Prepares restorative materials and dental cements” and you have only assisted the dental assistant lead to do so - state this. It’s always better to have some experience doing a task the job requires than to have none!
In order to effectively highlight your achievements, pay attention to these 3 simple tips:
- Focus on the result/s of each achievement: A recruiter wants to understand what type of impact you have as an employee. The best way to show that you consistently make a positive one is by describing your achievements in a results-driven way. Be sure to follow this simple formula:
The achievement + the positive result it brought about
- Use numbers and percentages: An easy way to exemplify the results of your actions is to use numbers and percentages e.g. increased efficiency by 40%, decreased wastage by 12%, maintained a 99% positive rating from customers, etc.
- Incorporate powerful action verbs: You can make your achievements sound even more engaging by replacing bland and uninspiring verbs with powerful action verbs.
Why mentioning exact duties in your current and previous dental assistant jobs is important
As you may be well aware of, the work of a dental assistant is incredibly varied. While there are standard duties most dental assistants will be responsible for carrying out, many of the duties you undertake in one job will be completely different to the duties of another. For example, one job may require you to focus solely on administrative work, whereas another job will require you to balance administrative work with providing direct support to the dentist.
This is why it’s absolutely essential to mention the exact duties you perform in your current job or have performed in previous dental jobs. A recruiter will want to know if your previous skills and experiences are an ideal match for the job they’re hiring for.
It’s also important to mention the type of dental practices you have worked for, such as private, community, and corporate practices. After all, there is a world of difference between the duties, number of staff, and environments of different types of dental practices. Briefly noting this information for each job will help a recruiter determine if you’ll be able to smoothly transition into the specific role you’re applying for.
How to write a resume objective (including examples)
If you’re yet to begin your career as a dental assistant, or you only have minimal experience in the profession, it’s a wise idea to include a resume objective at the top of your resume. Including one is an effective way to set yourself apart from other applicants who haven’t bothered to do it.
Recruiters look favorably on entry-level resumes that feature a resume objective, because it shows them that you’re enthusiastic about the position. It also shows that you’re someone who’s always willing to go the extra mile. Needless to say, these are qualities in an employee any dental practice would benefit from!
Another major reason recruiters appreciate resume objectives is because it gives them the chance to quickly learn about who you are. This may not seem like a big deal, but considering that research has shown that recruiters spend an average of 6 seconds looking at each resume, putting your best foot forward from the very beginning is essential.
In order to write a winning resume objective, you will need to concisely convey why you’d make a valuable addition to the company. Highlight the key attributes you offer that are relevant to each specific job. If you don’t have any work experience, focus on what soft and hard skills you excel in, and what your career aspirations are.
Take a look at these examples of well-written dental assistant resume objectives:
- Final year college student with a GPA of 3.5 wishes to secure a dental assistant internship at a community-based dental clinic in Arizona. Offers a genuine passion for helping underprivileged communities access dental care and strong organizational abilities.
- Graduated first in class from a 2-year dental assistant program, I am now seeking a full-time position where I can utilize my strong skills in either dental office administration or dental radiography. Brings strong enthusiasm, precision, and communication skills to every task.
How to write a resume summary (including examples)
Also called a career summary, this section should be included at the top of your resume if you have already been working as a dental assistant for a few years or more. A resume summary is an easy way to catch a recruiter’s attention because it provides an overview about why you’re a suitable candidate for the job.
Similar to a resume objective, a resume summary effectively demonstrates your enthusiasm for the position and gives a unique insight into why you think you’re an excellent dental assistant. The difference is that you’ll be able to pack in a lot more about your professional experiences in your resume summary.
To get this right, you’ll need to pinpoint which details about your work history are most worthwhile highlighting. Keep in mind that a recruiter isn’t primarily concerned about why you’re a great dental assistant in general. To the contrary, they are most concerned with why you’d make a great dental assistant at the particular practice they’re hiring for. This is why it’s pivotal to focus on the accomplishments that are most relevant to the job you’re applying to.
The following dental assistant resume summary examples show the high-standard you should aim for when you’re ready to write your own:
- Highly-organized dental assistant specializing in world-class customer service is seeking a full-time position at a private clinic in central Chicago. Consistently held a 96%+ satisfaction rate from customers over 3 years working at Glistening Teeth’s flagship office in Santa Monica.
- DANB-certified dental assistant with 5 years of experience in large-scale dental practices is seeking a part-time position at a Smile Wide branch in Oregon. Known for having excellent inventory management skills, as exemplified by achieving a 40% reduction in inventory costs.
How to list any additional details, like certifications, hobbies, interests, volunteer experience.
It’s a fantastic idea to list any additional details regarding your competencies as a professional that are directly relevant to the job. Arguably, the most important additional information you can provide on your resume is about any dental assistant certifications you hold.
The main certification, which is ideal to hold - the national certification provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB). The American Dental Association points out that in order to obtain it, dental assistants need to take the DANB’s Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination. Being certified provides an assurance to the public that “the dental assistant is prepared to assist competently in the provision of dental care.”
In order to feature this certification in your resume, you can list it in a section called “Certifications” using the following format:
Certified Dental Assistant
[The year of certification]
Dental Assisting National Board
Pro tip: You will be eligible to take the CDA examination if you have either completed a CDA-accredited dental assisting program, or after you have worked as a full-time dental dental assistant for at least two years.
Depending on the state you are applying in, you may also need to state that you are currently registered as a dental assistant in that state. You can mention this in your resume objective or resume summary, as necessary.
We advise you against including your hobbies and interests on your resume, except if you have been specifically asked to highlight them. The same goes for volunteering experience. Unless you worked as a dental assistant in a volunteer capacity or you have very limited experience and the role has applicability to the work a dental assistant undertakes, leave it off. In such cases, you can include it in a section called “Volunteer Experience”.
How to write a dental assistant resume when you have limited or no experience
Starting out as a dental assistant can be incredibly daunting. After all, how are you meant to gain experience in the first place when most jobs require you to already have some? It sounds like an impossible dilemma, but the good news is that your resume can be your secret weapon! That is, once you learn how to make the resume work for - rather than against - you.
Here are our top expert suggestions for how to make a fantastic entry-level dental assistant resume:
- Include any relevant internships: If you’ve interned at a dental practice you should definitely feature this in your resume. You can also feature any other internships where you demonstrated your administration, computer, or communication skills.
- Include a resume resume objective: As we explain more above, a resume objective is designed to capture a recruiter’s attention as an entry-level dental assistant.
- Emphasize your skills: Just because you lack professional experience doesn’t mean you lack relevant skills. You’ll be surprised by how many crucial dental assistant skills you already possess, such as interpersonal, organizational, and word processing skills.
- Use a functional resume format: It’s best to use a functional resume format (rather than a reverse-chronological format) as this format is designed to put a spotlight on your skills while downplaying your lack of experience.
- Highlight if you speak any other languages: Being able to speak a language other than English could give you an edge over other candidates, particularly if you are applying for a job in an area where many people speak that language.
Pro tip: If you’re serious about cementing yourself as a go-to dental assistant, we strongly suggest enrolling in a relevant academic program. As the American Dental Association explains, dental assistants may receive their formal education at one of a range of academic settings including community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes, universities or dental schools. You can find a suitable Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) accredited dental assisting education program here.
How to target your resume for each application, how to list only the relevant skills for that specific company & position
Perhaps one of the biggest traps people fall into when applying for a dental assistant job is submitting the same resume over and over again, then wondering why they’re getting repeatedly rejected. Just like the popular saying goes, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” You can’t expect your resume to finally catch a recruiter’s eye if you’re applying with the same generic one over and over again.
That’s why we can’t overemphasize how vital it is to target your resume for each specific company and position you apply for. You’ll be relieved to hear this isn’t nearly as complicated as it sounds. All you need to do is work out what the recruiter is looking for, and highlight these qualities on your resume.
You can obtain this knowledge by identifying the keywords the recruiter has included in the job ad, as we suggested before. Keywords simply describe the words a recruiter uses to represent the skills and experiences they are seeking from their ideal candidate.
To give you an idea of what we mean, we’ve bolded the keywords in the following examples taken from real job ads:
- Previous experience in dental assisting particularly in implant and surgical dentistry or orthodontics is preferred though not essential for the right candidate who has the right 'can-do' attitude.
- Understands that exceptional customer service is our number one priority.
- Maintains supplies; reports potential shortages to the clinic manager.
- Documents patient records as dictated by the dentist.
- Assures patients comfort while waiting for the dentist.
In order to properly target your resume, you will need to incorporate as many of these exact keywords into your resume that match your own experiences and skills. You’re not limited to where you can mention them - in addition to your job achievements, you can also feature them in your resume objective or resume summary.
Pro tip: It is important that you use the keywords exactly as they appear, as much as is possible, so that applicant tracking system (ATS) software can register them correctly. For example, if the job ad says “Assures patients’ comfort,” don’t write “Makes patients feel comfortable”.
How to make your resume stand out
All of the tips and tricks we have outlined will help ensure that recruiters seriously consider your application. However, the truth of the matter is that a great resume isn’t going to cut it. You need to make sure your resume genuinely stands out. Take stock of the following expert tips to set your resume apart:
- Keep all fonts, heading sizes, and line spacing consistent: Keeping the stylistic and layout features of your resume consistent throughout will ensure your resume looks sleek and professional.
- Replace number words with numerals: A recruiter’s eyes will naturally dart to any numbers in your resume, so swap out any written out numbers for their numerical equivalents. For example, instead of writing fifty-five percent write 55%.
- Proofread and spell check: In order to impress, your resume needs to be completely free of typos and grammatical errors.
- Get rid of “References available on request”: If a recruiter wants to contact your references, they will ask. Don’t waste precious space on your resume with this superfluous statement.
3. How Resumebuild.com Resume Builder Tool Can be Utilized for an Easy Resume Setup
If you’re wondering how you’re going to find the time and energy to put all our tips into action, we don’t blame you. It is, without a doubt, a very involved process to piece together a solid dental assistant resume from scratch.
It’s a good thing then that you can make your resume using our easy-to-use, HR-approved resume builder. The resume builder we have designed at Resumebuild.com is the best one you can use for a number of reasons. Not only do we give you dozens of ATS-friendly resume templates to select from, we also guide you through every step of the resume-making process.
We have spent hours refining the entire process, so everything from inputting your personal information to selecting which skills to feature is quick and easy. The end result is a professional-looking dental assistant resume that includes all of the crucial components that recruiters will be expecting to see. If you want to make your resume in under 15 minutes, try using our impressive resume.
- Prepare patient, sterilize instruments and clean operatories, set up instrument kits for patient treatment, prepare materials, or assist dentist during dental procedures.
- Communicating with team members to increase production and efficiency.
- Contacting patients by phone for appointment confirmation.
- Record clinical treatment notes in patient records.
- Maintain patient records and personal information.
- Schedule appointments, prepare bills and receive payment for dental services, complete insurance forms, and maintain records, manually or using