Attract Top Talent With Well-Crafted Job Descriptions

Workforce Strategist Kim Leifsen explains how better job descriptions can attract top clinical and non-clinical talent and provides examples demonstrating what to include.

In 2022, national dental expenditures were $165 billion. In order to serve this market, you need to attract and retain top clinical and non-clinical talent. If you are struggling to find these candidates, your job description might be why.

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A job description is more than just a task list. It should catch the eye of top performers and get people talking by:

  • Clearly explaining the outcomes the person in the role must achieve.
  • Highlighting key details like experience, salary, location, start date, etc.
  • Including questions to help candidates assess their fit.
  • Selling the role, company, and the opportunities for your candidates.

Creating job descriptions that check these boxes is easier said than done. To help, here are samples from a couple of job descriptions from Indeed. We modified the company names to protect the innocent. Here’s what they looked like before and how to take them up a notch!

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Describing Your Company


ABC Dental Corp is an Oral Care provider, with specialty offices in OR, WA and ID.


Role: Dental Hygienist

ABC Dental Corp is the most trusted oral care provider, dental insurance provider, and employer of choice in the Pacific Northwest for 50 years. Our goal is to stay that way by continuing to hire employees whose core values align with ours, which include…

What Makes This Sound Better:

While the “before” example lists the company’s successes, the “after” example tells us why someone would want to work there. You’re highlighting your company goals and core values. If your values are aligned with theirs, you’re more likely to take an interest in the role. If you can list your company purpose and annual goals it will make it even more enticing for someone who has those same, similar, or complimenting values and goals.

What You’re Looking For


Role: Dental Hygienist

A Dental Hygienist is a skilled oral health professional who supports patients in achieving and maintaining optimal oral health.  They assist Dentists by conducting screenings, taking x-rays, and providing support during dental visits, ensuring comprehensive care and promoting overall dental well-being.


Role: Dental Hygienist

XYZ Dental is looking for talented Dental Hygienists with a proven track record of supporting both dentists in growing their practice, and patients in dental health and comfort. Our hygienist team consists of people highly motivated and passionate about dental health, who want to work together to meet and exceed the needs of our patients and dentists.  Our goal is to increase the number of patients we serve by 25% over the next three years while retaining 95% of current members. Hygienists are the caretakers of those patients. We are dedicated to helping you take care of those patients. 

What Makes This Sound Better:

If you’re looking for a dental hygienist job, you probably already know that you’ll be responsible for conducting screenings, taking x-rays, and providing support during dental visits. The “after” example offers specific details about what XYZ Dental is looking for, including qualities they want in a team member and a quantifiable goal. The goal is to be as forthcoming as possible to give candidates who don’t fit a chance to opt out instead of in. It also tells the potential applicant that they are important and will be supported. Don’t say this if you don’t mean it and aren’t willing to walk the talk.

Responsibilities and Expectations


  • Conducting initial oral screenings
  • Cleaning and helping protect patients’ teeth (e.g. removing plaque or applying fluoride)
  • Educating patients of all ages on proper teeth care


  • Conducting initial oral screenings

Unsatisfactory Basic Proficient Examplary
Number of oral screenings are not completed as scheduled for each day, findings pertinent to the patients’ health are missed and/or reports are incomplete. Number of oral screenings are completed as scheduled, findings pertinent to the patient’s health are discovered and reporting is completed accurately and on time. Number of oral screenings are completed as scheduled, findings pertinent to the patient’s health are discovered and reporting is completed accurately and on time with 95% patient satisfaction. Proficient plus Dr is impressed with ability to find difficult to see findings related to the patient’s health.
  • Cleaning and helping protect patients’ teeth (e.g. removing plaque or applying fluoride)

Unsatisfactory Basic Proficient Examplary
Dr needs to redo cleaning or ask for further work to be done on cleaning, and/or not completing the cleaning in time frame alotted. Cleaning is completed to Dr’s standards and in the time frame allotted. Cleaning is completed to Dr’s standards, in the time frame allotted and with 80% patient satisfaction rating. Proficient plus 95% patient satisfaction rating.

What Makes This Sound Better:

Laundry lists of role responsibilities aren’t fun to read. They’re often generic and fail to communicate desired outcomes and performance expectations.

By illustrating what you mean by “unsatisfactory,” “basic,” “proficient,” and “exemplary,” you transform a mundane list into a valuable tool for potential candidates. Imagine having a clear understanding of performance expectations for each responsibility before taking on a role. Every bullet point should be accompanied by a rubric of this kind.

Without such examples, a new hire might unknowingly perform at a “basic” level, thinking they’re achieving “exemplary” status. Defining expectations clearly helps candidates understand what’s required, reducing the risk of miscommunication that can impact engagement and productivity. Also, you can use this rubric when it comes time to conduct your employee reviews.

If you’re having trouble with new hires leaving after only a short few weeks or months, this is generally the problem. They weren’t aware of something that has now become a reality. Hint: Money, on-site work, and hours may be what they tell you is the reason they are leaving, but it’s generally not the real reason.


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Background and Qualifications


  • Proven experience as a Dental Hygienist or similar role
  • In-depth knowledge of health and safety regulations in this profession (i.e. HIPAA)
  • Experience in preparing and maintaining dental equipment
  • Outstanding Communication Skills
  • Diploma in Dental Hygiene; Master’s is a plus
  • Valid licence to practice


Here’s what’s required and preferred for the Dental Hygienist role:

Required Preferred
Proven experience as a Dental Hygienist or similar role 2+ years of experience as a dental hygienist
In-depth knowledge of health and safety regulations in this profession (e.g. HIPAA) N/A
Experience in preparing and maintaining dental equipment 2+ years of experience in preparing and maintaining dental equipment, office set up experience a +
Outstanding Communication Skills Two years of experience in roles that require strong communication and interpersonal skills
Dipoloma in Dental Hygiene Master’s Degree in Dental Hygiene
Valid licence to practice N/A

What Makes This Sound Better:

By separating these qualifications into “preferred” and “required,” you’re letting potential candidates know what aspects of the role are an absolute necessity and which ones are an added bonus.

This is more important than you may realize because women are notorious for not applying for a position if they do not have 100% of the qualifications. Men will apply if they have 60%. If a candidate thinks that all of these are required skills, they may be led to believe that they’re not a good fit for a role and not apply.

Degrees are required for dentists, but are they really required for your position? If someone has already been doing the exact same job and excelling at it for the last 10 years, don’t pass them up because they don’t have a degree (medical roles, and some others excluded here).

Other Sections to Include

Your job description is your opportunity to find and attract top talent, so take the time to define who you’re looking for and what success looks like. Don’t limit your descriptions by simply covering the basics. Here are a few other sections to consider:

  • Physical requirements: Good, legally defensible job descriptions will list physical requirements, like being able to lift 50 pounds or sitting for more than 5 hours a day.
  • Behavioral qualifications: Define what successful behavior looks like in the role and what it doesn’t. An easy way to determine job fit for the position you are filling is by completing a free 5-minute questionnaire. You will then receive a list of the behavioral requirements for your position that you can copy and paste and put directly into your job description. Some behavioral qualifications can include:
    • Attention to detail.
    • Being very direct and self-assured and highly motivated to influence others.
    • Being comfortable working alone, but willing to collaborate as part of a team when necessary.
    • Responding well to a structured environment and do not mind close supervision.
  • Additional assessments: Invite candidates who apply to take assessments like the Genos Selection Assessment, which measures a candidate’s emotional intelligence, and the PXT Select Assessment further defines job “fit” by assessing a candidate’s cognitive abilities, behavioral traits, and interests.

Finally, let candidates know how to apply for the role by including a clear call to action and an easy way for them to submit their cover letter and resume. Also, make it a habit of ALWAYS emailing or calling them to let them know you received it and that you will be in touch with next steps. Then, be in touch with the next steps. Don’t leave candidates hanging!

This post was originally published in Group Dentistry Now on February 22, 2024

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About Kim Leifson 


Kim is a Workforce Strategist and owner of Hiring Strategies. Kim has 20 years of combined experience in benefits, corporate recruiting, executive search, employee assessments, and leadership development in companies varying in size (2 employees to 1000 employees), and industry (retail, financial services, distribution, warehousing, construction, manufacturing and consulting). This breadth of experience in varying cultures across the United States provides valuable insight as to what works and what doesn’t when recruiting top performers, creating effective hiring processes and systems, and developing a strong leadership bench. If you are you ready to write job descriptions that attract and retain top talent, send her a message and get started today.

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