Dental Staffing

Dental Professionals: Soft Skills May Mean More When Dental Practices are Hiring

So, I’m wondering, are any of you asking: “what are soft skills, anyway?” And if there’s such a thing as “soft skills, what are hard skills?” Years ago, I met a dentist who was so personable and kind, I thought everyone would want him to be their dentist. I recall he was looking for a dental assistant and he said “I want someone who’s kind and gentle with my patients. I can train a monkey to assist, I can’t teach compassion and kindness. I need a self-starter, great work ethic, and a real team player.”

Soft Skills vs Hard Skills

When a Dental Office is looking to add someone to their staff, they are not only going to look for  specific qualifications to meet the job requirements, but they’re also looking for those who can go beyond the basic job description.

So, what exactly are soft skills, and how do they differ from hard skills? Hard skills are the job, whether it be dental assisting, dental hygiene, or the dental associate. These are specific skills that are gained through training and certification programs, education, and previous job experience. Hard skills are teachable and measurable.

Soft skills, on the other hand, can be just as important (if not more) important, because they are often difficult to teach. Soft skills are an individual’s ability to empathize, show compassion and kindness. They are a person’s work ethic, flexibility, and communication skills. Soft skills can be learned and developed, but they can also be innate personality traits. Dr. Marynak believes it had a great deal to do with how you were raised and  your role models in childhood.

Why Are Soft Skills Important?

Hard skills dictate how well you've been trained for the specific job requirements, and how well you will perform your obligatory tasks. Soft skills often dictate how you will function within an office environment, and how well you get along with your team. Anyone can be trained for the same job, but it's difficult to teach soft skills such as effective communication, empathy for co-workers, and time-management.

When Dental Office Managers are looking for new Dental Staff, the proper certifications and training are required, but soft skills that make you more personable, independent, and efficient are a bonus. If you can communicate these soft skills on both your resume and during the interview, you will stand out far above your competitors

Discussing Your Soft Skills to Improve Your Resume?

We've compiled a list of the most sought-after soft skills that will have any Dental Office Manager looking at you twice:

  1. Work Ethic
    Work ethic is an invaluable skill for any job. Having excellent work ethic doesn't just mean you
    work hard at what you do; it is the dedication to performing your task to the utmost of your
    ability. Having excellent work ethic encompasses passion, punctuality, professionalism,
    motivation, persistence, and efficiency, and makes you a desirable asset to any Dental Staff
  2. Organization
    Being organized will make you a much more effective team member. Being able to evaluate
    your daily workload, make wise decisions, and manage your time effectively will not only help
    you perform your job better, but will also assist the rest of your Dental Team to be more
    effective in their job.

    Organization is also a key component of independence. When you prove to your employer that
    you can effectively manage your time and tasks, it allows them the freedom to let you work independently, and reduces the need to spend their time micromanaging.
  3. Flexibility & Problem Solving
    Flexibility and problem solving are complementary skills to any organization. When issues divert from the plan, when exams or procedures take longer than anticipated, the ability to maintain a good attitude while demonstrating flexibility is an invaluable soft skill and demonstrates an elevated level of professionalism.

    In any new workplace you will constantly come up against new situations and challenges, and these skills will help you to better manage your job.
  4. Communication
    The ability to effectively communicate with your patients and teammates is a key piece to developing a great working environment. Excellent communication creates an environment that is productive and flows smoothly from patient to patient. Remember, there are several methods of communication: verbal, non-verbal, visual, and written. A large part of communication is active listening. Remember we have two ears and one mouth! And when you do communicate, be sure you are demonstrating clarity.
  5. Treat Others as You Would Like to Be Treated
    Being personable and friendly, kind, and compassionate will help your patients feel more comfortable, and create a more positive patient experience. There are few people who really love going to the dentist; knowing how to consistently treat them respectfully from the time they enter the front door and back out the front door again is a necessary soft skill.

Can Soft Skills Improve Your Dental Resume?

A terrific way to separate yourself from the competition is by including your best soft skills on your dental resume. If you’ve performed an honest self-evaluation of your soft skills, be sure they coincide with your interview behavior. If you state that you are organized and show up late to your interview, it’ll become obvious, you’re not that organized.

Perform a self-analysis and write down the skills you think you possess. Ask a trusted friend what they view as your best soft skills. What do each of these skills mean? Do you demonstrate these soft skills in everyday life? Can you give examples? I believe it’s crucial to understand yourself, report these skills on your resume and to be able to demonstrate them in everyday life.

Get busy improving your resume. Go to and post your profile, upload that improved resume. and get a jump on the competition. Job offers are abounding in this era of the post pandemic!



“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson