When you think about the components of a successful job search, finding the job in the first place, submitting an application, interviewing and then negotiating a new deal or package are all obvious areas which you can focus on and improve on. But just how much effort do you put into your application, and perhaps more importantly, into creating a winning dental CV?
Before you submit your application we recommend you review your current CV and ensure it's fit for purpose. Is it supporting your application to the specific role you're applying for? Does it reflect your skills, experience, qualifications and interests? But where to start with reviewing and/or updating your CV? We'll take you through some of the things you should be considering now:
- The layout - in our experience, a poorly laid out CV can sink a good jobseeker's application almost regardless of their technical skills or experience. And conversely, a well laid out CV can lead to a candidate being quickly shortlisted. Simply put, creating an easy-to-read CV, with plenty of space, using a well-sized, professional font and listing your roles in reverse chronological order (ie most recent first), is a best practice approach. Use sub-headings with larger text, in bold - to help readers scan through your CV. Then also think about what not to include. Explaining your hobbies in detail is probably too much, as is the ins and outs of your part time jobs when you were at school, college or university. We'd recommend focusing on the roles, responsibilities and achievements in positions that are relevant to the role you're applying to.
- Although you might consider off-the-shelf templates to create a visually striking CV to help you stand out from the crowd, we'd remind you to be aware that recruiters and employers often need CVs to be formatted as Word-based documents, so that they can be easily imported into their recruitment systems, or read on a variety of devices. Interactive CVs and graphics-heavy CVs are fantastic showcases for graphic designers, but for dental jobseekers we'd recommend sticking to the basics.
- Thinking about what to include, we'd say there are some core elements that must be on there. Your full name and contact information is essential (you'd be surprised how many CVs we see with this information missed off them), as is your recent work history, qualifications & grades. A personal profile statement that explains what you're looking for in a new role can also provide a helpful insight into your personality and career aspirations. When explaining your roles, responsibilities and achievements remember that if you're explaining previous dental roles, standard responsibilities don't need to be explained… so you can just reference these elements and then explain any non-standard responsibilities. If you have specific technical skills or competencies, then consider listing these and perhaps explain your skill level - e.g. intermediate, advanced or expert. And if you're registered with any trade bodies, like the General Dental Council make sure you include this information.
- Then just as there are things we recommend including, there are certain aspects we suggest you leave off your CV. Expansively explaining early or irrelevant career roles, waxing lyrical about your hobbies or going into the minutiae of a particular role is going to put off a hiring manager as they'll struggle to find the information that's relevant to them. Use styling to draw attention to specific details - e.g. put job titles in 'bold' and increasing their font size, will help people scan through your CV and find pertinent information.
- One of the questions we're frequently asked is concerning the certificates that those in the dental sector typically have and what should be done with them. Our advice is that during the application stage, it's not necessary to bundle copies of your certificates up with your CV and submit an oversized document. Instead, have (digital) copies of them ready if you're asked to send them through, but otherwise just list the main certificates on your CV and include a statement that says "Copies of all certificates can be provided on request". And if you don't have digital copies, we definitely recommend using something like Scannable on your iPhone (Android alternatives are available), and creating digital versions that can be stored and shared.
- As with qualifications, where references are concerned, it's standard practice to simply state "References are available on request". We'd suggest protecting the privacy of your referees and only sharing their details, with their permission of course, once you're through the initial interview stage and references are being sought prior to an offer being made.
- How long is too long? is another question we're frequently asked. Bearing in mind our earlier comments about being concise, using a sensible sized font and not being too expansive with irrelevant information, the majority of CVs can be condensed into two sides of A4. The advantage of this approach is that it can be printed on a single piece of paper (double sided), so additional sheets don't run the risk of being misplaced or lost. And in those two pages, you should be able to explain all that a hiring manager needs to know in order to invite you for interview. It'll be at the interview stage where they'll delve into your work experience and personality in more detail and expand on the information they've gleaned from your CV.
- We've mentioned it earlier in this guide, but your contact information is one of the most important aspects of your CV and we're so surprised when we see this either missing off CVs or obvious typos being included. Without this information, hiring managers and recruiters won't be able to get in touch with you, so it's crucially important that you check over this twice and ensure it's 100% correct.
- But it's not just your contact information that needs checking. Your CV is your first opportunity to impress a potential employer, so make sure there aren't any obvious errors. Do all the dates in your work history match up? Are there are gaps or overlaps that need to be explained? Is your punctuation accurate? If you're re-using an existing CV that you may have used for previous applications, check it's not only up to date but that you've not left any customisations in your CV that you added for a specific company or role.
- Consider multiple CVs where you can tailor a CV to a particular role or opportunity, emphasising particular qualities that are being requested. For example, if you're a dental nurse with exceptional experience at crowns and onlays, you can include this piece of information higher up on your CV, maybe in a list of specialties instead of just listing them under a role's responsibilities. If you create a generic CV, then these are perfect for uploading to one or two job boards (like BestDentalJobs.co.uk) so that recruiters and employers can search for suitable candidates that they'd like to speak to. Even if you're not actively looking right now, you can keep your CV up to date (it's easier to do it as you progress through your career, rather than waiting until you're desperate for a new role). And if your CV is on a job board's database, even if you're considered a passive jobseeker and 'not actively looking' you never know whether your perfect job is just about to become available and a hiring manager can find your CV and know you're the ideal candidate for the role.
So as you can see there are some clear tactics recommended here that can mean the difference between a good CV and a winning CV. Ultimately, you want to be the jobseeker a hiring manager invites to interview, so presenting a clear, concise, well-structured, (relevant) information-packed CV will make their job easy and will definitely impact any shortlisting process.
Good luck in your job search!