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I was so happy to get feedback from ‘Finding An Associate Position‘ interference cast episode. What you asked for was some more direction on Portfolios, and that’s exactly what this episode sets out to do!

Need to Read it? Check out the Full Episode Transcript below!

As well as showing my own CV (it does not need to be too fancy!) and Portfolio, I tap in to Barry Oulton’s experience of hiring – what does he look for in an applicant?

Alan Burgin (@the.cornish.dentist) and I also chat about our journey and the gradual process of organically building your portfolio (it was a snippet from an episode yet to be released).

I echo in the episode that all these things are just to secure your interview – really what matters most is your emotional intelligence and your attitude.

If you know a DF1 that would benefit form this advice, help them out by sharing this podcast with them!

Click below for full episode transcript:Β 

Opening Snippet: Don't think that you're the bee's knees, and the be all and end all, what you're doing is you're reflecting back, because, you know, we do need to reflect. And so demonstrate the reflection, demonstrate that there's the humble and that you are looking to improve things...

Jaz’s Introduction:

Hi, guys, and welcome to another interference cast. This time I’ll be talking about portfolios and their relevance. I’ve got a couple of guests, but a few snippets from a few other episodes, actually new content that will hopefully help in the decision of how to actually make a portfolio, the relevance of it and what principals are looking for, and the journeys of some successful associates and what advice they can impart. I’m going to be sharing with you my own portfolio and my own CV. And that’s not to say that my CV is the best CV by any stretch of imagination. I know far more skilled dentist, young dentists who have brilliant, glowing CVS and portfolios. But I’m going to show you mine just warts and all because who does that right? So I’m going to try and be as helpful as I can be. Maybe they’ll give you some ideas, some inspiration. And ultimately, I just want to remind you that none of this matters, essentially, as much as your emotional intelligence, your personality, how likable you are, your communication skills. Are you a team player? Everyone I know who is a principal that you really want to work for someone who is really forward thinking, they all have one thing in common, I think from what i’ve deduced, and that’s they’ll really hire for personality, rather than the credentials. I think the credentials play a role. And they’re important. And that’s where I’ll show a little bit about portfolios, and what mistakes that I share in my portfolio as part of reflective learning. But ultimately, remember that your personality and your people skills are far far far more important than what’s on any piece of paper. Also, making some cameo appearances in this podcast will be Barry Oulton, who will be talking about as someone who’s hired lots of dentists before, what is he looking for. And I’ve also got Alan Burgin, who is such a fantastic guy to speak to, very successful young associate, who I think shares a few gems. If you’re a young dentist, that journey that you take into finding your first job or the right job, and he’s got a few gems to share. They all both have their own episodes coming up, but I took a few snippets, so they have a few cameo appearances in this episode. Okay, guys, so this is my CV, I’ve redacted some of my personal details. So it starts off with about me, but even before then, funny story, I used to have like a really stupid funny logo. And then a dentist who I really admire Tommy “Jaz, this a really stupid logo, get rid of it, it really ruins your sort of the hard work that you do and it’s lovely, all the lovely things that you’ve done, you sort of, discrediting it by having this stupid logo.” I won’t share that stupid logo with you. However, a I think it begs the question, are logos important? I don’t think they’re important. But I know some dentists that will actually think of another young dentist with less experience in lower regard, if they’ve got a logo, because they think you know, Who the hell is this young dentist one year qualified to have a logo. However, even though I don’t have a logo on my CV, at the moment, I think times have change, you know, I think the world is a completely different place. It’s the world of social media, social presence, and to have a branding associated with you is not a bad thing. Some people, maybe some of the oldies, I don’t know, maybe I’ll get shot for saying that. I don’t know. But some of the oldies made me think that it’s not a good idea to have a logo. But I think it’s part of personal branding. So maybe I might ask someone who I really admire and respect what they think about that. And they’ll probably think, who cares. It’s not the make or break deal. But that’s just something aside about a logo. So I start off writing a little bit about myself, then I dive straight in into education. So fairly standard two page CV, nothing fancy, nothing different. Some people do all sorts of crazy, different things. Mine is pretty boring and plain. And then my work history, what I learned, I also describe the types of work that carried out, for example, in my restorative DCT position, the type of work that I did that’s written on the bottom there as well. Some published work some prizes, like I said, we made an app once I stuck that in there, does it really matter? No, I don’t think so. I don’t think that’s what you know, makes or breaks your, you gain the position. It is sometimes when there’s hundreds of applicants for position, then these little things may give you a bonus. Debatable. None of these are important as your personality, but I’ll just show you a few examples of leadership management, personal interest, CPD. Now I’ve seen some CVS which are like seven pages of just a listing every single course you have done that, when I first saw that I was like, wow, I was actually quite impressed. But then again, it becomes quite long. So I don’t know if you want to do that. Certainly, it’s good to have a log of every single CPD you’ve done. But I wouldn’t like put every single half an hour, section 63 course you’ve done, just the big courses. So I put a few, a few select ones that I’ve got on there. But you may follow that approach of having every single course on there. If you’ve done some big ones, if you like any, why don’t you feel proud of them and want to stick them on there. Some people have done that. I’ve just kept bit to a few. And I keep a little PDP very small, just a sentence at the end. So that’s my CV part. But then what I’ve got is lots and lots and lots of cases, this is my portfolio. So I start off with my finals case, you know, this has been on my CV since like, day one. So I was very proud of my finals case. So I’ve got that on there. A crown prep using verti prep approach, some composites I did in the earlier years, it’s me as a first year dental school, then some dahl composites I’ve done in hospital training, internal bleaching, just a range of different things. I’ve done some crown and thing once upon a time, treating brown spots, white spots, composite bonding, just a selection. Now, when you start out, you may leave, you may only have like two cases as a composite and maybe a denture, that’s totally fine. You know, it’s just some evidence that you know, you can carry out some good dentistries, i’ts fine. I think it shows some discipline about you. And the fact that you’ve actually gone through the effort of documenting cases. That’s partly why I think a portfolio shows as well that you are, you’ve got that in you to actually be disciplined to, you know, save your photos, crop them, flip them, and reflect on them. So that’s why I think that it shows as well. I’m happy to show some blood, I’m happy to show a torn rubberdam, I really struggle with that composite you see there, but I still stuck it on because it shows my human side. So I am perfectly fine to show that I’m not perfect. And yeah, I just basically you could see the volume of cases, I have my portfolio. And these are, like I said, been building up over time, I did not have a portfolio this large when I started out. And just all sorts of cases that I have, not all of them are 10 out of 10 standards, some are just average or slightly below average. But I’ve just stuck it in there. Sometimes they make for good conversation, if you get to the interview stage. Some Dahl work, so you get the idea. And I’ve also got some OPGs of wisdom teeth that I’ve removed surgically. So if you, you know, if you think you’re proud of some of the extractions, you’ve done wisdom teeth, a good skill to show and the end of what my references in a paper that I wrote. So that’s essentially what my portfolio is and what my CV is, nothing crazy. Now, sometimes people do all sorts of funky things with their CV, if I can think of an example. So I’m on a website called Canva, canva.com. Now, and they’ve got some pretty cool like templates you can use. So for example, you can use this template, add your name on, I think these look pretty funky, pretty nice. I wish I had access to this, when I was first making my CV, I could still change it. But I’m sort of kind of dropping out. So I’m not needing to. But certainly, I will use canva.com to find a relevant template that you can use. So here we are another sort of template you can see on your screen there. So these are pretty cool, I’d say. You know what this one reminds me of the sort of logo that I had, the stupid logo I told you about. So you get gives you a clue as to what I had. But, I mean, this is this is pretty good. Canva templates, I think are they look nice. But again, this is not as important as the soft skills that you have. Everything about a portfolio and CV, the purpose is to get that into. It’s that interview that you’re going to wow them with your beautiful personality and charisma and giving them confidence that you’re going to treat their patients really, really well. So hope that was useful to see. I’m not sure if it was, please hit me up and let me know if it was or it wasn’t. And let’s see what Barry Oulton has to say and what Alan Burgin and have say.

Main Interview:

[Jaz]
So Barry, I want to have you on to speak about something that follows on from a recent episode I posted about finding your first associate position and how people can go about doing that. And I’ve been flooded with questions from I mean, it’s a sorry situation for everyone involved at the moment in the world, you know, but in dentistry, we like to sometimes reflect on the people who may have been hit very hard and that is DF ones, their first year out of dental school. Six months into it or the or there abouts. They’ve now completely out of clinical practice something that they’re starved of, they’re only just about to get into a position we’re about to you know, advance out of their comfort zone to do the bigger cases they’ve only just got the the grasp of general dental care in the real world. And now everything’s come to hold and they’re in this position where They have to now apply for their first potential associate position. I want to know from you is what should, what should they be thinking right now? And I want you then tell us about because I know you are, you’re hiring dentist now and again. And I’ve been through that procedure many times before. What do you look for in a CV? To what can make you stand out? and partly what do you look for in a portfolio? Because I think about 10 years ago, no one, I mean, at least is why my perception 10 years ago, we didn’t have portfolios. We didn’t need portfolios. But every young dentist, I know now who’s applying and rightfully so, they’ve got a portfolio, what do you think, would be in a portfolio that impresses you and what doesn’t?

[Barry]
Okay, so firstly, huge subjects, right? The first thing is, if they’re coming at it, let me let me tell you about an experience when I was a VT trainer. People would just send kind of generic letters. Dear Sir, dear, I’ve got a couple of dear dentist I got. I mean, honestly, mate, I was like, so that came through, like, Ben, if you can’t be asked to find out my name. Then on you go. The ones that I have been impressed with, and thought about hiring are the ones that have demonstrated in their covering letter, that they have done a bit of research about the practice, you know, I’ve just recently hired a new associate, primarily, because I want to mentor and he wants mentoring, I’ve got a lot to share. His covering letter really was about the fact that, you know, I noticed that you do this, Barry and you do this, that and I’ve seen you do this and and I’m like, Okay, this kid is has made an effort to find out about me, and find out about the area and the patients. I had one applicant that I contacted. And I said, so where do you live? And it was a London, I said, so do you know how long it would take to get to the practice? And he went no, not yet. And I thought, [inaudible], mate. If you haven’t even researched, how you gonna get here, you’ve clearly don’t give us stuff. You’re just pepper spray. So I like somebody’s covering letter that demonstrates that they’ve made an effort. I really liked recently, somebody applied and then followed it up with a phone call. I just wanted to check I’ve sent [inaudible] a covering letter and my CV, I just wanted to check that you received it. And if you would like to have a chat or anything like that I’m available.” And I’m just like, right. This is somebody that’s demonstrating that they give two hoots about this job, and they want it.

[Jaz]
Barry, I think that’s really good. I think a lot of young dentist may feel shy or reserved, or as if they are not in a position to do that. But I think it’s great. You mentioned that actually we send out it’s completely okay to follow up with a phone call. And that’s a really good point.

[Barry]
I think you need to have a USP, what is your unique selling point? You know, why would I want you at my practice. And it’s not about bragging, it’s not about going because I’m awesome, because we’re not going to know that for three to six months, to be perfectly honest. You know, what I want to know is that you’re going to care for my patients and look after my patients. And I’m different from some of the principlas. Other principlas might be focusing on gross revenue, whereas my focus of attention is on quality and care. And, you know, looking after the patients, so I think that you, you need to be aware of what sort of practice you’re applying to, what sort of dentistry you want to do. And it’s worth mentioning a few bits in that. I think it’s quite hard. I like I mentioned to you earlier on, I suggested, I’m about I’m writing at the moment, currently writing, training an online training course. And I’ll send you the logo, but it is get that dream job and it’s not bespoke to dentistry. It’s generic, because if I was to and when you go on and have a look at it, you know, if you go on, there’s nothing available right now, but there will be. And I give you three descriptions of three different of three houses. Do you remember when we did predicates on the two day training? The other day?

[Jaz]
Yeah, right.

[Barry]
So some of us are highly visual, we process our information visually. Some of us are auditory where we process most of our world through our hearing and sounds and we describe our world through that. And others of us are kinesthetic we, we like to touch and feel things, and we process through our feelings and describe our world through our feelings. So I start off with a document that gives you three choices of houses. And each one of them is written in one of those predicates visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. And so which house would you prefer? You generally pick one. And then I say, right, well, they’re all the same house, they’re just described in somebody’s predicate. Now, when each applicant describes themselves, they will describe themselves through the words that they represent their world with. So they might describe themselves through highly visual language. If myself as the deciding factor of whether I interview you are highly kinesthetic, I am going to be drawn to a covering letter that is more written by somebody who’s kinesthetic than I am to somebody who’s visual. Does that make sense?

[Jaz]
Yeah, so their own predicate will, the type of predicate will appeal to a certain type of principal?

[Barry]
Absolutely. So what’s the secret, the secret is to write covering letters that make sure that we’re covering all of the predicates, because you don’t know what that principle is going to be. You don’t know what their preferences. So by wording carefully, the opening paragraph increases the likelihood that the principal is going to go, I’m going to take a look at this, this person, rather than going oh, I really like this group, because this group will be the ones that rose purely in his predicate. But, you know, he might be pushing aside others that aren’t including some of the language. So I can’t go into it too deeply right now. Suffice to say that there is there are ways of writing carefully with some words that speak to more people. And give the vision of what you’ve got, and actually give them a better feeling about you, based on the words that you put in. That being said, from broad strokes, use names, you know, show interest. And because the idea is to get your foot in the door and get an interview.

[Jaz]
So the CV, the portfolio, the cover letter is a vehicle to get the interview. Once you have the interview, that’s a whole different beast. But gives, you know, once they can see you and meet you, and maybe through Zoom meeting nowadays, but you know, it’s all about getting your foot in the door for an interview. So they’ve got a cover letter that is personalized, that’s been well researched, that’s in the name of the principal and is about their town. It’s using the correct predicate if you’d like that it’s gonna, you know, very..

[Barry]
It’s gonna use the all three predicates. Okay? Because you don’t know. There are no typos.

[Jaz]
Absolutely.

[Barry]
Get somebody to read it. You know, get your punctuation right. You know, we’re scientists, right? I haven’t really written anything since I was at uni. At uni you’re used to writing alone. I mean, nowadays, you probably know, right, you probably type. And we got Grammarly and stuff like that. So goddamn use that it’s really not acceptable to have a load of mistakes in a letter now.

[Jaz]
I’m just mindful of time because I really want to push that. What about the portfolio? Because that’s the new thing are relatively new portfolios. I mean, I’m going to talk a little bit in the video about what’s in so I’m going to just show my portfolio and what that involves. But what are you looking for in a portfolio nowadays, hey, you know, you might listen, imagine you’ve got 100 CVS, cover letters, portfolios. Half of them you can dismiss because they’re just they say, dear dentist or whatever, the others you don’t get a good feel for, but a lot of these are going to be identical. They’re all qualified in you know, 2019 2020, for example, in take this batch of DF1 dentists, they’ve all got the same MFDS or whatever. What are you looking for in a portfolio that’s going to speak to you.

[Barry]
So if I’m looking to recruit somebody of that age, of that experience group, age is irrelevant, but the experiences they’re just completing DFT what I don’t expect is a portfolio that’s full of full mouth rehab and this that the other because, quite honestly, you know, I anybody that is overreaching or effectively bragging, I’m like, I’m mindful of that. You can’t be that good after a year, right? You can have the right mindset of, I’m the best that I can be at the moment and I want to be better. That’s what I’m looking for. I’m looking for somebody that I can, at that, that level of experience. I’m looking for somebody that I can work with a mentor and help and be there for. I’m not expecting somebody to come in. I wouldn’t personally be expected somebody just to come in and hit the ground running. I think that for me personally, that’s unrealistic for somebody that is effectively a year qualified. And you can’t possibly have been exposed to all of it in a year. So I want a portfolio that demonstrates what they’ve done. But also, I quite like it when you tell me what you could do better. Because the whole thing about dentistry, The other thing about life is it’s a constant, never ending journey of learning and improving. I’m of the mindset, there’s no such thing as failure, only feedback. And if you say, you know, this is a case that I did, on my next case, I would like to improve this by doing this, this this, I’m thinking, you know, well, that’s great. You don’t think that you’re the bee’s knees, and the be all and end all, what you’re doing is you’re reflecting back, because, you know, we do need to reflect. And so demonstrate the reflection, demonstrate that there’s the humble and that you are looking to improve things because we all should be even 25 years qualified, I should still be and I am reflecting back. how could have I have improved that? What areas would I like to grow? I like a portfolio that demonstrates a range of skills, but also does give me an idea of their limitations. You know, I don’t want I did hire an apprentice. And one of the applicants failed to disclose that he or she had never done a molar endo, had never done a crown prep, this is even after DFT. And they’d had quite a restriction on certain things. Well, that’s quite important for me to know. Because it would be better for me to know that and go great, you know, we can introduce you, slowly, I can hold your hand, I can, you know, take you through that. So I think it’s showing some of your best stuff. It’s been honest, it’s been reflective. And it would be useful if you can, that your portfolio reflects your personality. So make it neat, make it smart, make it professional, make it slightly different, you know, whether it’s on a USB or whether it’s, you know, hard bound or whatever, you know, if there’s one job you’re going for, and you really want it, I mean, put some effort into that, that communication, that folder, that book, whatever it is.

[Jaz]
Brilliant. Thank you very much, Barry. I think that’s very useful. I’m going to add on a few things, showing my portfolio and or basic testimonials. I’ve got like a coloring that this is some years ago, I had a coloring done by my five year old patients that, you know, we got along really well. And they made a little coloring, a little drawing of me. And I’ve always kept that as like, my proudest testimonials from a patient and I think principals like to see that, show your human side, you’re good with kids that sort of stuff.

[Barry]
Yeah, testimonials, brilliant, you know, include some testimonials where and make them short. Because, you know, people like me don’t want to read long ones. But you know, short, punchy, or even screenshots, a couple of screenshots from Google of five star review. “My God, he was fantastic. Oh she was really gentle and amazing.” It’s like, because that’s what we’re in the game of, we’re in the game of caring for patients. And the quality the dentistry, don’t get me wrong, right. It’s important. The most important thing is how you care for the patients, how you look after the patients. And if you interact well, because without patients, it doesn’t no one’s know, I’ve never had a patient thank me for a tertiary Fisher. But they have complimented me on how gentle I was and how lovely I was. That gets more patients. Thanks for having me, mate. It’s an absolute pleasure to speak to you.

[Jaz]
Thank you, Barry, as always, it’s been great cheers.

[Jaz]
What your path was? And now I want to say what what can you you know, for those listening and watching right now, young dentists, what advice would you want to give them above and beyond what we’ve already talked about?

[Alan]
So I think really, it’s something useful would be, Don’t rush to get to the end. Because you again, I think you can be influenced and see cases online that you think that’s what I want to recreate. But there’s a lot of steps along the way to get to that. And if you just focus on that end goal. It’s you know, people will say that, you know, got to enjoy the journey as much as the end point. And by setting those small goals, you can really appreciate every little bit and achievement that you make. So, yeah, don’t set this end achievement. And you know, once I do that then I’ll be happy or then I’ll be doing well because really, it’s got to be smaller than that. And the second thing I would say is in kind of links on to that is just try and take enjoyment out of your work. I genuinely enjoy doing the work that I do. And my poor wife when I come home and say, so some photos I took today, usually, very politely obliges, but you know, she does not want to see another occlusal composite.

[Jaz]
How long you married?

[Alan]
Just so two years.

[Jaz]
When you get to five years, she doesn’t even listen to my own, plus she’s a dentists, just miss my podcast. She can’t give a shit about why do, man. I come home and I share the photos. And she’s like, Listen, I really don’t care.

[Alan]
Yeah, I think when the baby comes, that’s gonna be [inaudible] Poor kid. So enjoy what you’re doing and so on the same thing is the first point, I suppose is. I think when I was in mixed practice, you sometimes hear people saying, Yeah, I wanted to get into private practice, because then you get you can book more time and all this. And you’re sitting there going, well, doesn’t help me. And it just practice. But actually, you don’t have, it comes back to the small goals idea, you can just pick one case to say someone comes in, and you have a look in the mouth and you go, Oh, it’s just an composite occlusal. And you could think, Okay, get that, get that done, move on. Or you could think, Okay, I’m going to actually designate some time next week. And, yes, I’m not going to make much money out of that case, I might even make a loss, but it’s not going to affect your yearly take home. So learn something from it. And you can, if you making the big change, from doing what you’re doing to Okay, I’m going to do the perfect crown preps and I’m going to do the perfect dentures, I’m going to be the perfect everything. It’s not gonna happen. So just pick one case, enjoy it. And don’t worry about the money on it, just have a good time, learn something from it. And it might not go to plan but something will and then you can repeat that over and over. So everyone’s different in how they’re going to, how much time they’d be able to dedicate to that. But I when I was in [inaudible], I was working, I had no part time positions initially when we moved there. And they were all very, very different practices. One was private one was high need NHS practice, and a couple in between. And so I used my private practice time to try and do that but you can do it within your own normal day list. It doesn’t really matter.

[Jaz]
What you’re given there is really real world advice. Now it’s gonna help a lot of people. It’s a mindset thing, isn’t it? And I think Yeah, you can’t go to doing everything perfect gold standard, because you know, you have to be realistic about the time. If you all had three hours to do a couple of composites for every case, our density would be you know, our contact points will be tighter, our fishes would be on point. Our occlusion would not be as bad. A lot of things will be in our favor if we had all that time but to actually balance out especially if you’re in mixed practice or NHS practice. It’s a great little tip that you get, great little nugget I want emphasize that too. I would call that protective time. Give yourself and I think the way you said it was was great, pick a case and say you know this is my protected patient or protected case. And the rest of it you have to work smart and work well but still deliver as best case as you can. But then that one case where he’s going to fall in love with dentistry. In that fall in love with all the other dentistry but i think you know what I mean like that one case you can really put the cherry on top and get it perfect and slowly build your portfolio like that.
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