By Carl Guthrie
New Dental graduates are officially entering the job market this month, and Dental Residents are completing their programs in just a few more weeks.  Here are a few tips and reminders. 
1.  New associates need to understand that private practices vary widely in the ways they are operated.  The owners that are successful and need to hire are obviously successful and have a system that works for them.  If this is the first associate hire for the owner, things will change as progress is made along the learning curve.  If the practice has had a successful run with associates in the past, then the owner will most likely be less adaptable since he/she knows what type of doctor works out.
2.  Do not rely on everything you heard in dental school.  New doctors do not make $120,000 or more in every practice.  Some earn $90,000 or less.  There are many schools of thought across the country of how an associate agreement should be created.  Be prepared for contradictions of what you think you know.
3.  Owners are focused on what you, as an associate, will do for the practice.  A job seeker needs to always be aware that he/she is selling something to a prospective employer.  The owner in many areas has some choices in who to hire, or the owner is in a position to wait for who he/she believes is the “right fit.”  When applying and/or interviewing for positions, present what you as a potential associate will bring to the table in terms of skills, production, philosophies, and work ethic.  Do not jump to what the practice will do for you.  You must create YOUR value first.
4.  Return the phone call.  You still cannot get a job or an interview by solely email or text message.  If you get a call back in regards to a position then you must return that call ASAP. 
5.  You cannot overdress.  Got the interview? Wear a coat and tie.  No excessive jewelry, perfume/cologne, or facial hair.  Use common sense in your preparation here.
6.  Check your ego at the door.  Owners want to hire a confident associate, but they do not want to hire one that is overly confident or conceited.  Be grateful for the interview.
7.  All the bells and whistles do not make the practice.  We all like shiny new things and the latest technologies, but some practice have not quite made that leap yet.  This does not mean it is automatically a bad deal.  I have seen most, if not all, associate deals break because of personality conflicts or philosophical differences.  Never have I heard a doctor quit because the practice did not have digital x-ray.
8.  You and all your dentist friends will not find employment in the same city.  The most popular cities are often the hardest places to find employment.  Even though you believe a certain area is a great place to live, you still need to research the potential of finding a job before making your final relocation decision.

Carl Guthrie is the Western Region Recruiter and Account Executive for ETS Dental.  He can be reached at or 540-491-9104.

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