Building a Dental Portfolio

Not all dental graduates will choose to pursue a residency out of dental school.

Some individuals may choose to go straight into the workforce. The route to landing a first job will depend on professional self presentation through a dental portfolio. This is regardless of whether a graduate is looking at corporate dental offices or private practice. They may be in touch with a corporate recruiter or may be conducting their own job search on websites such as Indeed. A portfolio is the bridge to landing the first associateship position.

Dental offices are taking risks when hiring graduates with limited experience. Hiring managers understand that a new grad is going to be minimally competent. Thus, the office would always rather hire someone with more years of experience unless given an explicit reason to trust that the graduate is worth betting on.

Enter the dental portfolio

Dental students should get into the practice of working on their dental portfolio, first consisting of their CVs and resumes, as soon as they enter the clinic in their third year. Attaching a photo of oneself to a resume can greatly increase the callback rate for applications. Hiring managers are accustomed to seeing a sea of resumes, but human nature wants to put a face to the name. When there is a picture attached to the resume it is more memorable and increases the applicant’s chance of getting a call.

How to make a dental portfolio

Students should also get into the habit of documenting their cases and building a dental portfolio. An applicant can demonstrate growth from dental school in the portfolio. This will help them stand out as hiring managers will see the quality of performed work. They will appreciate the applicant’s ability to walk them through a starting point, the preparation phase, and the final restorations. Not all portfolio cases must be anterior veneer cases. Clean, high resolution photos of single tooth restorations can also stand out.

During callbacks, applicants are always going to be asked to give a background about themselves. The competitive applicant won’t talk about dentistry here, but rather about their personal interests. They will be able to tie their interests back to why they’ve applied to a particular job. The next question will be regarding the doctor’s comfort level with procedures. Are there any procedures you are not comfortable doing? Even if you answer “yes,” it is important to talk about your eagerness to establish comfort with these procedures. Also mention what you’re going to do between now and when you get the job to hone that skill.

What to include

Applicants who are comfortable with molar endo, surgical extractions, and implant restorations will always stand out. For this reason it is crucial to take the time to get comfortable with these in school if possible. These are procedures that many offices will refer out so they look for associates that can keep that production money in-house. Applicants should know how much time it takes them to complete crown preparations, endo, etc. It is harder to gauge this as a student given the interruptions between start and end of procedure. However, before graduation it will be useful to choose procedures on compliant patients and timing oneself. It will be important for an applicant to get familiar with his or her speed and try to continuously improve upon this.

Offices are looking for prepared, professional, and reliable doctors. Taking the steps outlined above will help graduates create the best dental portfolio to stand out among the rest.

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