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Preparing for Associate Job Placement

September 29, 2021 4960

Many elements are involved in preparing and marketing yourself for employment. This section will provide tips for creating an effective curriculum vitae (CV), writing a compelling cover letter, understanding your social media profile and how to use it to market yourself, networking, budgeting and planning for your projected associate salary and narrowing down the locations where you want to live and work.

Curriculum Vitae

A good CV cannot be generalized like an application. It is written to get a specific job, so it should be job specific, written with the practice and position in mind with you matching skills and qualifications to the job’s requirements. In other words, the CV should make it obvious to the employer that you are the right candidate. Remember that your CV is actually a key to the interview. It should generate interest and excitement to compel the reader to pick up the phone for an interview.

Here are a few tips:

  • Write your CV from the reader’s point of view — always think, “What is in it for the employer?”
  • Make it brief – two pages maximum.
  • Use bullets and underlining to highlight critical information.
  • Never use colored paper or “creative” fonts.
  • Review for spelling mistakes, typos, poor grammar and missing information.

The following information is generally included in a CV:

  • Contact information
  • Degrees
  • Licensure/certificates
  • Academic honors
  • Research interest
  • Publications and/or presentations
  • Related professional experience
  • Volunteer positions
  • Recognition/achievements
  • Skills
  • Languages
  • Professional memberships
  • Community services

Your Social Media Profile

Many potential employers scan Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and other social media sites to gather information about a job candidate. What they discover can help them decide whether or not to hire you.

Create a social media profile that demonstrates the type of employee you will be and that conveys your professional strengths. CDA’s Career Center offers resources to help members develop a professional social media image, including:

Why You Should Google Yourself to Monitor Your Online Brand

How Job Searchers Can Use Social Media to Their Advantage

Networking for Job Placement

Networking as a future dentist should ideally begin in dental school. Take advantage of the networking opportunities offered through your dental school, such as alumni events, job fairs, student volunteer organizations and faculty programs. Even if you are unsure where you plan to live and work after dental school, the networking opportunities in dental school are great practice and can lead to unexpected opportunities.

In dental school, there are many opportunities to get involved with organized dentistry and network with local dentists. Contact the local dental society and state dental association to inquire about events the association is hosting for dental students, new dentists and general members. There are always ways to volunteer your time, which is a great path to finding dentists who are happy to be mentors and provide advice.

As a dental student, attend the professional dental association meetings and conventions. CDA Presents, offered twice a year, is an excellent way to meet colleagues, attend networking events, attend continuing education courses and visit with dental vendors from all over the country.

Projected Salary

While not the only or often most important consideration, it is important to understand the salary you can expect to earn. This will help guide your budget as a new associate and will also influence locations you consider.

According to, the average salary of an associate dentist in the U.S. is $212,000. However, according to, an associate dentist in the U.S. takes home a significantly lower average of $178,000 per year. Finally, shows $123,000 as the median salary for an associate dentist in the U.S. Based on this data, the associate salary range is wide, so it is wise to be conservative in your projections. Plan to earn and base your monthly budget on the low end. Keep in mind, most associates are offered a rate based on a percentage (typically 25% to 40%) of daily collections/adjusted production. Salary structures are more specifically outlined in this toolkit in the “Associate Agreements” section. It is important to ask what the typical dentist provider produces per day in the practice you are considering so you can project the daily salary range. The questions you should ask the practice owner regarding production and compensation are covered in more depth in the “Associate Interview” section of this toolkit.

Location Considerations

About six to 12 months before graduation from dental school, identify your preferred location where you would like to live and work. Keep in mind, the wider you cast your net, the more job prospects you will have. Rather than choosing a specific city or town, identify the type of location you ideally want to live in and practice. Here are some questions to consider in establishing your desired location:

  • Do I want to practice in a small, medium or large city/area?
  • Am I willing to consider multiple states or am I limited to one state/region?
  • What is the cost of living in the areas I’m considering and can I afford it as an associate dentist?
  • Am I willing to commute to live in a more affordable area but practice in a more affluent practice? How far am I willing to commute?
  • Am I willing to work in multiple locations/practices if necessary to be employed at least four to five days a week?
  • What is the ratio to dentists to patients in the areas I’m considering? Is there demand for more dentists in the area?
  • Does the area offer the type of lifestyle I want to live outside of work? If not, am I willing to sacrifice the ideal lifestyle for job placement as an associate and relocate after two to five years?
  • What are the patient demographics in the areas I’m considering? What is the average household income, education level and home value? What patient demographic do I want to serve?

Once you’ve come to the answers to these questions, create a monthly budget to help you choose locations in which you want to live/work.

The budget should include:

  • Rent/housing and utilities
  • Student loan payments
  • Groceries/shopping
  • Phone bill
  • Insurance, including professional insurances needed
  • Savings
  • Transportation and car payment/insurance
  • Entertainment
  • Pet/child expenses
  • Emergencies/one-time expenses

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