Network your way to your dream job

The primary goal of just about every dental student is to land a great job or residency after graduation. But for many, the busy and stressful schedule of completing school requirements and passing board exams leaves little time for much else. However, just like completing dental school, landing a great job as a dentist doesn’t just happen with luck. The good news is that it doesn’t need to take a lot of time and effort if you start preparing early. By building your brand and making the right connections during dental school, you’ll have a much greater chance of landing your dream job as a new graduate.   

Building your brand

For most people, when they hear a popular brand name such as Apple, Google or Amazon, certain positive or negative thoughts typically come to mind. You might love Amazon for its convenience or dislike Apple based on a bad experience you had with one of its products. A brand is so much more than a recognizable name. It is how that brand makes you feel based on the experiences you’ve had with their product or service. Here’s how you can start building your personal brand.

1. Define what you want to be known for. Think of yourself as a product. Can you market this product (yourself) in a way that promotes enough interest for the audience to buy what you’re selling? Everything you do or say will build on that brand or take away from it.

Also, think of your personal brand as what people say about you when you’re not in the room. How do you want to be viewed by others? What do you want to be known for? Be intentional about how you present yourself online and how you interact with people every day. Make sure it is authentic, so what people see is a reflection of the image you want to convey. If you don’t define your personal brand, others will define it for you. 

2. Develop a vision statement for your career. Determine what you want most out of your career. What are your short-term and long-term career goals? To get to where you want to go, you must be able to articulate it. This presents significant value to an employer, as people who don’t know what they want out of their career often end up bouncing from job to job.

3. Develop your value proposition. In a sea of qualified candidates, what makes you different? If hired, what will you bring to the table? You should be able to describe what makes you unique in 30 seconds or less. This is what’s known as an “elevator pitch,” and it should explain who you are and why someone should hire you. Your elevator pitch should be specific and concise, and you should have it ready before you start looking for jobs.

As you define your brand, vision and value proposition, be sure all three work together in alignment to create an impact with potential employers.


The best way to land a job is through networking and word-of-mouth referrals. In fact, a 2017 study conducted by LinkedIn showed that 85% of jobs are filled by networking. The reality is that some jobs are filled before they are ever posted. The good news is that there are numerous opportunities to start building the right connections while you’re in dental school.

1. Develop your online network. LinkedIn is a great way to start building your network online. Your LinkedIn profile can serve as an online resume for potential employers and recruiters to find you. To create your profile, start with a professional headshot. Avoid using a candid photo you might use on Facebook, Instagram or other social media platforms. Your headshot doesn’t need to be taken by a professional photographer and should convey professionalism and confidence.

As you continue building your profile, include the same elements as your resume, such as your career objectives, qualifications, education, credentials, work history, accomplishments, leadership positions and association memberships.

Your LinkedIn profile should be organized, concise and tell the story of who you are and what you’ve accomplished. The more content you include in your profile, the easier it will be for people to find you. Connect with all the dentists you meet and join any applicable dentistry groups that might provide helpful message boards and connections with experienced dentists. Shared connections are a great way to make an initial connection with a potential employer.

2. Network with current dentists and industry professionals. Seek out as many opportunities as possible to engage with experienced dentists and industry professionals. Even if the dentists you meet aren’t currently looking for associates, they may know of opportunities with their peers. Nothing is more valuable than trusted referrals. Ask a lot of questions and don’t hesitate to request a shadow day or tour of their office. It will help you start to build a relationship and give you the invaluable experience of seeing different practice environments in action. 

When it comes to networking, focus on quality over quantity. Successful networking is not about making as many connections as possible. Instead, try to find a few well-connected people that can offer you the mentorship and support you need. You’ll want to build a strong relationship with each connection so that they will be willing to recommend you as a qualified candidate. You may need to talk to a lot of people to build the right connections, but the reward will be well worth your efforts. 

You’re working hard to earn your dental license, and it also takes intentional planning to land your dream job. By taking the time to develop your personal brand and build the right connections in dental school, you can fast track your way to a successful and fulfilling career as a new dentist.

~Rebecca Sorci, MBA, University and Clinician Communications Manager, Pacific Dental Services®

Pacific Dental

Founded in 1994, Pacific Dental Services® (PDS®) is one of the country’s leading dental support organizations, providing supported autonomy that enables dentists to concentrate on clinical excellence and the highest levels of cost-effective comprehensive patient care.

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1 Comment

  1. I agree with all the advice in this post. In fact, the dentists I have encountered who are the most satisfied early in their careers are the ones who found their first position through a family friend, a dental school faculty recommendation or networking at dentistry meetings and events. When it happens organically, it is magic. But magic is fairly rare and so this post’s advice is worth considering. The only additions I would make is to emphasize that it requires you to be intentional and it is going to take time. Attending events is time consuming. It requires energy and it can be hard to get access to the people you most want to meet. Make sure to take advantage of all resources available to you during your search, both in-person and online, to increase efficiencies as a student and job seeker. You want to find the right fit, the first time so you don’t find yourself in the market for a new associateship sooner than you planned. Think about broadening your search to ensure you find your best match that supports your long-term vision and goals.
    Bill Robinson, ADA Practice Transitions, CEO

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