Five Steps to Landing a Job After Dental School

As an upcoming dental school graduate, I know how busy the day-to-day grind can be between class, patients and extracurriculars. When you first crack open the study guide for your rigorous head and neck course in year one, it can seem like looking for a job is a long way out.

And while you may not be sending out your resume in those few weeks of dental school, I found some helpful tips along the way to guarantee that you won’t be scrambling for work by the time graduation arrives.

  1. YOU CAN NEVER START TOO EARLY. There is no better time to start researching and networking than now. I started doing demographics on locations of interest during my first semester. I knew that most of the information would be out dated once I graduated, but I also knew that I would be more comfortable with my overall understanding of demographics and trends for the future, which would allow for me to pick a prime location when the time came down to it. During my second semester, I started listening to podcasts that were relevant and useful for my career plans. I specifically listened to “Dentalpreneur” hosted by Dr. Mark Costes and “Dentistry Uncensored” by Dr. Howard Farran. When a guest would appear on a spot that I felt had similar views to me, I’d hunt down their contact information and w try and connect with them. This was incredibly useful! I made great connections that ended up leading to three future job offers. It also was beneficial to connect with other like-minded individuals who would eventually mentor me along the process. To add to this, it’s always useful to start talking with professors early on to pick their brains for similar information.

  2. MANAGE YOUR TIMELINE. Towards the end of my third year of dental school, I knew that I would have a little over a year until I would need to be signing with someone for my future career. I set a goal to have a job set by December of my fourth year. I found it very valuable to start applying to positions. Doctor recruiters are very useful, and they are free! It’s simple to find them as well, a search online will pull up multiple resources. All of the recruiters I worked with had unique pieces of information that I found useful. Some are much better than others, but I would recommend talking to multiple and finding one that is a good fit for you. Often times the recruiters are willing to mock interview you, look over your resume or CV and make suggestions to help determine goals.
    Useful recruiter sites:
    https://www.etsdental.com/
    https://www.dentalopportunities.com/

  3. APPLY AND INTERVIEW. This is a piece that I started doing at the end of my third year. I started interviewing face-to face with practices as early as May of 2018, one full year before my graduation. I started reaching out to doctors about future positions about four or five months before my first interview. One big piece of advice is to go on as many interviews as possible. This doesn’t mean to accept every free flight or chance to go see something fun. Only go to areas you have true interest in or practices and doctors that you feel comfortable and confident with. If it’s something you feel remotely interested in, go on the interview. You can always turn down an offer in the end. This also allows for you to understand the interviewing process and hone in on your skills for asking appropriate and important questions. Also, having multiple job offers can help you gain leverage if you need to negotiate. Another tip during this process is to apply to any job that you feel interested in and send over your resume. When you start applying and emailing doctors, make sure to reply to all emails that you receive back. If someone writes and says they are not interested in you at this time, repl. I cannot stress this enough, you never want to burn a bridge in the future by being lazy. Simply replying, “Thank you for your time, maybe we will cross paths in the future,” can go a long way. One way that I applied to positions was by finding doctors in locations I was interested in and cold calling them. Overall, I had some success with this but the amount of time and effort I put in was not worth it. Feel free to try this but I think your time could be spent better in other ways.
    Useful job sites:
    Indeed.com
    Monster.com
    https://www.ihs.gov/jobs/basicsearchresults/
    https://connector.hrsa.gov/connector
    https://www.vacareers.va.gov/careers/dentistry/search-results.asp?search=search&q=dentist&cat=Dentistry
    Every state has a dental association website with a classifieds page. These are great resources.
    Dentaltown classifieds
    Doctor demographics is a great resource for demographic information.
    https://www.etsdental.com/

  4. INTERVIEW SUCCESSFULLY. Be prepared. Have a list of questions that are important to you. There are dozens of lists online that explain good questions to ask, as well as what you should know before joining an organization. Research the location, practice and doctors that you’ll be interviewing with and get a good foundation about all of it. This will open the door for more specific questions as well as show the interviewers that you have true interest in the opportunity. When I used to interview candidates for medical sales positions, it always stood out when someone asked good questions and was engaged with the conversations. It’s also very important to dress the part. Show up in business professional attire. A good saying is, “If you dress poorly, people remember the clothes, if you dress well, people remember the person.” Once you receive offers, there is always room for negotiation. You need to be reasonable with what you ask but often times there is some wiggle room with the first offer that is given. After you leave an interview, follow up with a hand-written card, or at least a very timely thank you email. This is a nice way to have the interviewers remember you and to demonstrate your follow through.

  5. WEIGH OUT YOUR OPTIONS. Use your offers as a way to compare everything and determine which one is truly the best fit. Make a pros and cons list for each offer. If you really want an offer but there is just one thing that would make it better, try and negotiate that with the person who extended the opportunity. Nothing is permanent but you want to try and find a good fit that can allow for you to be placed in a position to grow and pivot you towards where you want to be in the future. Remember that this is an exciting time and you should enjoy the process. You should be proud of how far you’ve come.

The above information is a recipe for success but there are multiple ways to come out successful with a great opportunity when it is all said and done. This is information that I felt was useful for me and it allowed for me to find great position. Good luck and feel free to reach out to me in the future with any questions.


About the author:

Brian Jankowski will be graduating from A.T. Still University in Mesa, Arizona on May 10, 2019. Afterwards, he will relocate to Salt Lake City, Utah, with his wife and three-year old daughter. He has joined Abundant Dental and is excited to begin working in the field of dentistry. Prior to dental school, Brian worked in medical sales. He was also two-sport Division I athlete at Weber State University. You can find Brian on Instagram and reach him via email at [email protected]