Technology has changed the way we do everything. Now when applying for jobs, employees do a simple Google search in order to learn more about a potential new employee,  their habits, and interests. This is not limited to jobs, it is possible that when applying to dental school, admissions officers could Google search potential students’ names to see what kind of results appear.

Coming from a technological background detailed in a previous post, I have had lots of experience Search Engine Optimizing (SEO) websites so they can appear first when specific keywords are searched in Google. For example, when searching for Dr. Paul Binon’s website for his dental practice, I have optimized the results in Roseville, CA (where his practice is located) to make his website appear first for key terms that patients may search. Searches like “dental implants in Roseville”  return with Dr. Binon’s website as the first result. Very vague searches, like “dental implants,” in the Roseville area return with Dr. Binon’s website in the fourth position, behind Wikipedia, WebMD, and Perio.org (all three are educational resources to learn more about dental implant, not dentists).

With the social network boom, searching for our names on Google populates a list of almost everything we do on the internet. As a result, I urge every one of you to be cautious of what actions you perform on the internet and what you post. Most of it will end up in the search engines’ hands, and if it ranks high enough it could damage your image. A whole new business has opened in which people Search Engine Optimize (SEO) their names. This has recently been classified as its own category of optimization  known as “Reputation Management”. Reputation Management is the act of search engine optimizing your name to appear with quality results when searched by others.

I have been working on optimizing my name for a few months. If you search “Elias Almaz” in Google, it will populate a list of results. For many people, facebook will usually be their top result. This is almost unavoidable if you use facebook. It is not bad if you have a Facebook; Almost everybody has one, including my parents and their friends. Those who use Facebook should follow the following guidelines to prevent Facebook from damaging your image:

  • Visit the Facebook page Google links to (make sure you are not to be logged into Facebook) and look through the information that is displayed publicly to all.  Edit your privacy settings based on what content you want only visible by friends or content okay for public viewing.
  • Always have display pictures that appropriate for the public to see. Nothing provocative, nothing questionable.
  • Ultimately, if you do not want facebook to ever show up in searches you can disable “public search” under your privacy settings.

Other social networking sites like twitter will also be on the first page of results. If you no longer use these social network accounts delete or deactivate them.

Join LinkedIn, the social network for professionals. LinkedIn is great to publicly display personal information that is resume-like that can be easily found. Joining the social network will likely add a new, quality, result to your first page on Google. I plan on writing a blog post in the near future about the importance of a LinkedIn account as well as some tips.

Many other good results can show up. I have my blog, www.predents.com,  as well as my current treasurer position in ASDA @ UCI. However, I also have unwanted results like mylife.com, genealogy.com, and reunion.com that I am currently attempting to remove from my Google results.

Visiting the websites on your first page of results can help gauge their quality. If you have any questionable results, you can ask me in the comments section below or email me. I will give you my personal advice on what to do. Last but not least, I want to clarify a common misconception about Reputation Management; SEO take TIME. Deleting something may not change your searches rankings or results for WEEKS or MONTHS. Please be patient, Google has billions of webpages to sift through and rerank every day. Reputation management is a very slow process, but over time, the effort you put in will build a strong digital reputation ready for searches from employers and admissions officers!

 

Good luck and happy optimizing!

Right after I tell somebody I aspire to become a dentist, I always get the same question, “Why Dentistry?” This may not sound like an important thing to worry about when friends or relatives ask you, but you need to realize that this question is inevitable when it is time for dental school interviews. Every school you interview at will ask this question to see what a career in dentistry means to you. If your answer is botched up, it could significantly hurt your chances.

Every time I get asked this question, I try to compose an answer that is honest and maintains the asker’s interest by balancing its length. This can be a very difficult task as the question is complicated to answer. In essence, its just like asking a pre-dental student, “Why are you dedicating the rest of your working life to dentistry. What gives you the confidence that you can do this for 30+ years and still be interested in it?” When put like this, one realizes how important it is to have an answer to this question that not only is sufficient for others but is also good enough for you.

When I get asked this quesiton, many reasons come to mind, but I have a difficult time putting my answer together into cohesive sentences. I get sporadic thoughts about all the things I want to mention. My solution to this issue is to tell a variant of my story in which I add more detail, take some out or just plainly omit areas completely. I look for signs that help me gauge my performance in answering the question. Sometimes it works better than others and I even get compliments like, “Wow I could really feel the passion from that answer!” For everyone interested in becoming a dentist, it is important to have an answer to this question that is ready in time for dental school interviews. That is why I recommend to treat every time somebody asks this question as if you are being interviewed for a seat at your dream dental school as one of their students.

Writing down your answer to the question can really help structure your answer when you are asked by someone.  I would advise everybody to start with a little exercise in which they brainstorm their answer. The following example, is something I wrote last week as the backbone to my answer:

I have had interest in becoming a dentist since elementary school. As I matured, I found most of my hobbies involved working on very small electronic parts that challenged me and my dexterity. These tasks never get boring to me as I could always improve my skills by producing better work and quicker. This helped me realize in high school that I wanted to “test the waters” on careers involving fine motor skills. The top career on my list was dentistry as I found it to fit my interests the best. As a dentist, one is their own boss, owns their own business, is part of the medical field, and most importantly to me, challenges motor skills.

During my junior year in high school, I was given the opportunity to shadow a prosthodontist for several days. I was so excited by my experiences that I immediately enrolled in dental assisting courses and I ended up working at the same prosthodontist where I became convinced that my dream is to become a dentist.

I knew dentistry is what I wanted to do with my life after one experience in particular. Shortly after receiving a brand new set of dentures from the lab, we gave them to the new owner, an old lady. Her previous dentures were severely worn out to the point that the back teeth were indistinguishable from the pink of the palatal plate. I watched her eyes light up the moment the new dentures seated in her mouth. Something as simple as dentures changed the shape of her face and got rid of the slur she had with her worn down dentures. I watched her face glow with happiness and excitement when she recognized she can finally eat food again. It felt spectacular to be in that room along with the dentist and that experience puts a smile on my face every time I think about it.

Since then, I knew, for sure, that I wanted to be a dentist. I had realized how important our teeth are to us as they affect so many aspects of our lives. I have been working at the same practice ever since whenever I am home on break.

 

This write up does not need to be perfect. The exercise is designed to “outline” what is important to your story and to help you stay on focus when telling your story to others. It is not meant to be memorized and regurgitated. Here are some key points of my story that together show my interest in dentistry:

  • I mentioned my interest working with my hands.
  • I looked into career choices and saw what appealed to me in dentistry
  • Experienced dentistry by shadowing
  • Took the initiative and started working as a dental assistant
  • Memorable experience that explains the joy dentistry gives me

This write-up can also act as a template for your personal statement for the AADSAS application (Associated American Dental Schools Application Service). The prompt is:

Your Personal Statement should address why you desire to pursue a dental education and how a dental degree contributes to your personal and professional goals.

If you have an answer written up and you would like to have me look over it, post it in the comments section or email it to me if you prefer not to publish it. I would love to review it and give you suggestions.