With graduation season approaching thousands of 4th year dental students and residents are gearing up to enter the dental workforce. Just a few years ago I was at this point. It is an exciting yet uncertain time for a young professional. Where will I work? Who will I work for? Should I join a practice? Should I do a startup practice? If you are anything like me, these questions are probably running through your mind. According the the ADA Health Policy Institute, predoctoral enrollment is currently at historic levels. More dental students than ever are graduating and competing for the top jobs. How do you stand out against all these other applicants? The answer is personal branding.
Whether you know it or not, as a dental student or new dentist you have a personal brand. Prospective employers are going to ask for a resume or cover letter and look you up on Google. You will likely meet dentists at CE courses and networking events. How will you portray your brand in these situations?
The first step in creating your personal brand is defining your career goals based on the type of career you want. If you need help with this step, check out the IgniteDDS Fast-Trak program for guidance on your pathway to practice. New York Times Best Selling Author on personal branding, Dan Schawbel, once said, “Brand yourself for the career you want, not the job you have.” Once you have your goals set for the your ideal career, you need to create a unified vision for your brand.
What are the components of this unified vision?
- Resume/CV – If you haven’t started already, keep a running track of everything you do in dental school (extracurriculars, continuing education, leadership roles, volunteer work). Pick a visually appealing template and keep it simple. Use power words such as “earned”, “accomplished”, “achieved”. Add a link to your website at the top of the page and make sure the design style mirrors your website.
- Website – I purchased a domain and built a website to help market myself. Companies like Bluehost, GoDaddy, and Wix make this process easy and affordable for less than $150 a year. With little background in website design, I was able to get a professional looking site setup over a weekend. I used my website to expand on aspects of my resume to include photos, a personal bio, links to social media and my published articles.
- Social Media – Do your social media profiles paint a positive professional image? Would your grandmother be proud if she saw your Instagram or Facebook? If not, it is time to clean it up. Whether you like it or not, employers, the public, and patients are looking at your social media accounts. Use the power of social media to your advantage. It sounds simple but just having a complete Linkedin profile gave me dozens of potential job leads.
- Stationary – I used stationary with my name that matched the style of my website and resume. Handwritten thank you notes after interviews are a lost art. They are a quick way to stand out from other applicants.
- Business Cards – The most valuable component of my unified vision were my business cards. I passed out close to a thousand cards during my 4th year and GPR residency at CE lectures, organized dentistry events, as well as visits to potential practices. Ultimately, I found my dream practice through one of these networking events. Sites like Vistaprint and Moo have business cards that will help you stand out. Don’t forget to stay consistent with the style to match your other components.
Use your personal brand and unified vision to tell your story. Stay genuine and don’t try to be someone you are not. If you invest the time and energy into this process you will stand out against the thousands of other applicants.