Get a Job! From pre-application to post-interview

Getting a job. As if getting into dental school and passing your exams wasn’t hard enough, now you have to find someone willing to take you on even though you don’t have those 2 years of experience everyone seems to want. Yeah, it can be tough, but with the right amount of preparation and a continued plan of attack you will find something.

1 – Make yourself competitive

Its important to build a CV with more than just “DMD/BDSc/DDS/etc”. Start thinking about what you could become involved in that interests you and would be relevant. This doesn’t mean joining every club and society just for the sake of some CV padding, remember you actually will need to do it well if you want it to make you stand out.

Some examples of what could help getting involved in:

  • The Australian Dental Students Association (ADSA)
  • Your university specific dental association,
  • Doing some part-time work during uni (any healthcare or community assistance field, not just dental assisting)
  • Voluntary community dental outreach (Tzu Chi, Kimberly Dental Team, NDF)
  • Rural placements and Overseas placements
  • Organising a pre-school/school dental talk on your own accord
  • ADA Division study group participation
  • CPD courses (if free/cheap for students)
  • DPL Young Dentist Conference attendance
  • Avenue Dental “Australian Dental Graduate of the Year” (

2 – Have people backing you up

Start collecting reference letters! Get them from anyone you think could possibly help. Collect them over your years at uni, then when applying for jobs try to match the letters to what the job advertisement is looking for.

Some possible referees include:

  • Uni tutors
  • Overseas or rural placement tutors
  • Boss or supervisor at part time job
  • Organisers of volunteer programs
  • Teachers at school/pre-school you visit for oral health promotion
  • Family Dentist…. But probably not your Mum

3 – Apply early and in-person

Start applying early. Final exams are stressful, and it will make your life easier if something is in the pipeline before you need to worry about VIVAs and exams. Even if it doesnt land you a job pre-exams, at least the whole process will be familiar and less stressful during the exam period.

  • Start applying from the middle of your final year
  • Check the practice website before applying. Is it a good fit for you? Could you be a good fit for them?
  • Hand deliver your printed CV and practice-specific cover letter, even if its rural! If you really want them to employ you, make the effort to show that they’re not just one of your job application mass-email recipients
  • If they haven’t advertised, drop in with a CV and practice-specific cover letter anyway! Walk up to reception, “Hi my name is John Doe and I’m a final year dentistry student. I was hoping I could leave a resume here for Dr P. Sherman incase he/she was looking for a new dentist” – I stressed for a long time about what to say, but really thats all you need!
  • Get in touch with any recent grads you know, chances are they know of some unadvertised upcoming jobs!

4 – Follow up after the interview

If you’ve received an interview, they’ve been impressed with something about you. Send a follow up courtesy email thanking them for their time and the opportunity to speak with them. You might mention something you were impressed with about the job or the practice,and that you hope to hear from them soon. Don’t forget to include all your contact details again in the email.

5 – Keep at it!

Some people will never get back to you, others may come off a bit rude, and others might seem like you had the job at the end of the interview but now you’re being ghosted! Try not to let it get you down, its just an unfortunate part of the whole process.

David is a recent graduate dentist working in private practice in regional NSW, Australia. Read more at

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