Tired of being passed over for open dental assistant positions?
Your resume might not represent your experience and skill set – or it might just look like everyone else’s.
To stand out from the crowd, this guide provides the easiest methods for attracting serious job offers.
Discover the best ways to describe your in-demand skills, what to leave off your resume, and how to stand out in such a competitive field.
Study and gain as much knowledge as possible. My work in the general dentistry, surgical and now orthodontics fields has given me a high spectrum of knowledge in dentistry – you can never learn too much in this field!
In this guide, learn how to create the best dental assistant resume.
- Choose a layout which best matches your level of experience and the kind of clinic where you’re applying
- Use your header to show your relevant certifications and goals
- Your resume summary tells a compelling story about who you are
- Ensure personality and results come across in your work experience
- Choose skills which reflect exactly what the job offer is looking for
Creating the ideal dental assistant resume outline
As a dental assistant, you’re going to have to be organized and thorough. Showing you have those qualities starts with how you create your resume.
Start with an outline to plan out just what resume sections you need and what each one should accomplish. Here are some of the ones you should consider:
- Objective or Summary
- Dental Experience
- Soft Skills
- Technical skills
Looking for related resumes?
Which dental assistant resume template should you use?
- Basic - If you’re looking for an entry-level dental assistant position and don’t have a great deal of relevant experience, this single column layout works best.
- Professional- If you already have a few years of experience under your belt and are looking to take your dental assistant career to the next level, this balanced layout is ideal.
- Simple layout- For more senior dental assistants, show your ample experience without a resume that goes on for pages. This compressed but visually appealing layout lets you fit a lot on a page (or two) without straining anyone’s eyes.
- Creative layout - This light, airy, and modern layout speaks volumes – before anyone even gets to reading your resume. It’s a great way to stand out in a stack of boring poorly-formatted Word resumes.
When choosing the right dental assistant resume layout, be sure to consider:
- Your layout should put the most important information upfront (e.g. your experience if you’ve been a dental assistant for a while, education or certifications if you’re an entry-level dental assistant).
- It should be easy to read (i.e. short sentences, balanced white space).
- It should work with ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) so you can send it as a PDF.
The secret to a great dental assistant resume header and objective
The basic information at the top of your resume (your name, title, etc.) are a critical place to make a first impression.
For dental assistants, this can mean listing certifications next to your name, and possibly including a short one sentence objective statement about who you are. These one or two sentences should encapsulate what you’re searching for in your future job.
Your dental assistant resume header should include:
- One or two concise sentences
- The quality of your work in various roles
- A clear idea of the job you’re looking for
- Whether you have any relevant certifications
Before you send your resume off, it’s extremely important to double check what kind of information you’re allowed to have in your header. Some countries, states, and individual dental clinics have rules about including photos (or other personal information). Be sure to check these and ensure your dental assistant resume isn’t going to get thrown out because it broke a rule.
"How to write a fantastic dental assistant summary section"
You’ll need to choose between including either a brief resume header or a summary section. We recommend summary sections if you’re a dental assistant with a great deal of working experience – or are if you’re sending out tons of cold applications.
Detail your accomplishments, applicable training, and career ambitions, placing them at the very top or bottom of your resume under headers like “Career Summary” or “More About Me.”
You want to impress prospective employers quickly, so condense this section into 4 or 5 sentences. It can be tricky to find the perfect balance, but putting in the extra effort will definitely catch the right attention.
What makes the first example so much more effective?
It uses action oriented words and describes your administrative assistant experience in an energetic way.
The second example gives the feeling that you’re listing things that you had to do and makes you sound like someone who just does their job.
Your dental assistant summary section should include:
- Four or five sentences balancing concise and descriptive statements
- Brief examples of your accomplishments and career ambitions
- The years of experience you have
- Whether you need supervision or not
- If you hold your certification
How to make your dental assistant work experience easy to read and powerful
It doesn’t necessarily matter whether you have more experience than your competitors. Anyone can be trained to perform specific procedures – precision, results, and personality are what counts most in this role.
Dental assisting is not just about production or procedures. It’s about people — living, caring, and feeling people. There is joy in seeing kids excited about coming to the dentist. I love that about my job!
The challenge is, how do you get personality on a resume?
Besides using the layout and other more personal sections mentioned below (like passions, interests, or references), you can still get it across in your experience section.
Notice how the first example shows someone who cares about the details, gets things done, and does so “with a smile” all in just a few short bullets.
We can’t say it enough. You need to deliver your experience in a way that shows that you’re a go-getter and actively look to make your work experience better and better.
If your experience looks uninspired, your resume will likely go on the “no” pile.
How to write a dental assistant resume with no experience
You may have already done some research on what to include in your resume, but most websites only provide information for experienced dental assistants.
If you’ve never worked in this field, don’t worry: There are still plenty of ways entry-level dental assistants can catch the attention of prospective employers.
You may be surprised how certain skill sets apply to dental assistant jobs, especially leadership roles, computer/software training (e.g. Microsoft Office, Excel, 10-key), and customer service experience. Emphasize your competence only by including your most relevant experience and/or characteristics.
For example, customer service experience, jobs or hobbies where you do precise work with your hands, any jobs where you had to be organized, etc. can all show you have relevant skills.
The best way to show education on your dental assistant resume
While not all states require certification to work as a dental assistant, it always helps. But many dental assistants begin their careers with degrees in semi or even unrelated fields.
If your degree isn’t related, you can mention it simply to show that you have it but it’s not necessary to go into much detail. For most dental assistants, their certifications are going to matter more.
If you’ve finished a dental assistant certification program, be sure to include the name of the school, name of the program, and the year you completed it.
A short and tidy education sections can't hurt you resume.
Place your certification details above any other unrelated degrees or certifications. This is one of the first pieces of information that your future employer will read.
Matching your dental assistant skills on your resume to the job opening
Before creating your dental assistant resume, a great rule of thumb includes writing down your hard and soft skills in a dedicated skills section of your resume.
These can include anything from providing great patient care to mastering specific computer program training. Remember: Planning is the best way to get ahead of your competition.
Dental assistant resume hard skills
Hard skills are quantifiable and can be learned through training. These can include typing certifications, performing oral health exams, speaking multiple languages (especially Spanish), specific computer program training, and even the number of patients that you assist with on any given day.
Some popular hard skill keywords include
- Computer proficiency
Dental assistant resume soft skills
Soft skills, on the other hand, are qualities that can’t be measured but still make you an excellent employee. These might range from possessing a great bedside manner to having a soft touch during dental procedures.
Though they may not seem as important as hard skills, remember that a fear of the dentist keeps many patients from going regularly – great interpersonal skills can take you far!
Excellent keywords to use to showcase soft skills include:
- Customer service
- Organizational skills
- Friendly/warm personality
- Patient education/follow-up
How to add skills from a dental assistant job description
Be sure to research specific requirements that dental offices listed in their job advertisements.
Start by writing these down next to your personal skills. These are what should be featured predominantly in your resume. If these skills don’t relate to the job advertisement, don’t use them in your document unless you feel that they’re necessary. Let’s break down exactly how to do that.
Here are some job requirements that were taken from an actual dental assistant job description:
- “Superior working knowledge of dental procedures and terminology
- Ability to build rapport with patients
- Good manual dexterity
- Computer proficiency and the ability to learn new programs”
Let’s break down what you should take from those requirement and how to include them on your resume.
Knowledge of dental procedures and terminology: You can demonstrate this simply by showing you have a certification. Build rapport with patients: If you have any experience in customer service, even in a restaurant or retail environment, mention working with customers and building relationships. Manual dexterity: This is tricky to show on a resume, but certifications or hobbies (like crafting or woodworking) can show you know how to work well with your hands. Computer proficiency: Beyond simply stating that you know how to use Excel or something similar, consider whether you’ve ever taught yourself how to use a computer program or gotten a certification in it and mention that.
The top 3 dental assistant certifications to include on your resume
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, dental assistant positions are expected to grow by nearly 20% over the next decade. With more offers up for grabs than ever, you’ll need a super competitive resume. While dental assistants can learn on-the-job, one (or all) the following certifications will set you apart:
- CDA (Certified Dental Assistant)
- COA (Certified Orthodontic Assistant)
- CRFDA (Certified Restorative Functions Dental Assistant)
In addition to including these certifications under your educational information, the easiest way to showcase your expertise is by including it next to your name:
[Your name], CDA
If you’ve completed more than one certification course, write them this way:
[Your name], CDA, COA
This practice will quickly show any hiring professionals that you’ve got the necessary training.
How to effectively use references with your dental assistant resume
Being a truly excellent dental assistant heavily relies on your personality and disposition. Those are qualities that can be difficult to get across on a resume. That’s why including references can be helpful for dental assistant resumes.
There are two ways to go about this. One is to include quotes along with contact information for the person who gave them. The better option for most dental assistants is to simply include contact information for people who are willing to give references.
Instead of simply listing people as references, try including what they can speak to. For example, if someone can talk about how well you work on a team, say so next to their name.
What can 10,000+ dental assistant job descriptions and resumes tell us about your application?
You’re never applying for a dental assistant position in a vacuum. While you may not get to see all of the resumes you’re competing against, the good news is that we’ve done that for you.
By analyzing thousands of dental assistant resumes and job descriptions, we’ve identified gaps between what clinics are asking for and what applicants are providing. For example, almost three times as many resumes mention sterilization as job offers. That means listing it as a skill isn’t likely to help you stand out much.
How to include interests on a dental assistant resume
Big Game of Thrones fan? Avid basketball player? Semi-professional baker? Because you’ll be working with both patients and a dental team, it’s important for prospective employers to get a good idea of your personality before they schedule an interview.
If you have certain hobbies or interests, a few sentences might be a great way to give you an edge on your competition.
Try researching the clinic where you’re applying to get an idea of their culture and what kind of person would fit in well. Then, you can try to show yourself as that kind of person to the best of your ability.
In summary, what makes a dental assistant resume great?
Always remember that a carefully crafted resume is the best way to sell your dental assistant skills to a prospective employer.
Taking the time to customize a resume for the exact clinic where you’d like to work takes extra time but it’s time that will pay off.
Show you’ve got the relevant skills, certifications, and a winning personality and you’re sure to land the dental assistant job you want.