7 Ways To Boost Your CV Before Getting A Job In Health And Safety

Careers By Matthew Coombes

Writing a successful CV can be a challenge – and what exactly makes a CV successful is a hotly debated topic that often divides opinion. Whether you’re looking to get your foot in the door of the health and safety industry or maybe climb up on to the next wrung of the ladder, this is a list of tips and suggestions to help boost your CV for applying to health and safety jobs.

This list is based on my own experiences, the experiences of my colleagues and friends, and some general things you might not be aware of if it’s been a few years since you’ve been on the job market.

Two page limit

One thing that most people seem to agree on is the two-page limit. It’s about finding that balance between underselling yourself and potentially seeming inexperienced or lazy with a minimalistic CV, and over-selling, over-hyping and over-detailing yourself with a five-page essay.

Unless you have information that indicates the prospective employer wants to know everything about you, cut it back to a maximum of two pages. This gives you a good amount of room to write a professional profile, information about your current role, some previous roles for employment history, your education, general experience, and even some space for hobbies and interests.

If you’re struggling to fit everything in to two pages, start to look at what information can get the chop – you’ll want to leave some things to discuss in an interview scenario anyway. Ideally you should be tailoring the information to suit the job role that you’re applying for. If you’re applying for a safety advisor position for the first-time, things like customer service experience could show that you have good communication skills, whereas pulling pints or delivering newspapers when you were younger probably needs to be left out.

Volunteer some time to relevant positions

There are many organisations in the health and safety industry that are able to take on individuals on a voluntary basis to help with health and safety related tasks. This can be a great way to develop new skills, show a willingness to work towards your goals, and to network with health and safety professionals. Some places you should enquire about volunteering are consultancy organisations, local authorities, and local companies that have individuals in health and safety roles.

There’s no harm in asking, and if you’re lucky you could even get offered a paid position after volunteering.

Gain qualifications

Qualifications aren’t the be all and end all of getting into a health and safety role. Some organisations are happy to take on someone with drive and determination and allow them to train on the job with an NVQ, or put a couple of hours aside each week for someone to study a NEBOSH or IOSH qualification.

But undoubtedly, if you are already qualified for the role that you’re applying for it won’t hurt your chances.

If you know the title of the position that you’re after, you can search for the job requirements on recruitment websites, to see the kind of thing that people are looking for. For example, a health and safety advisor role may be looking for a NEBOSH General Certificate and some experience in health and safety management. However, these requirements are often desirable but not absolutely necessary, so don’t let a lack of experience deter you from applying.

IOSH Membership

IOSH Membership costs money, so if money is tight or if this is your first role in health and safety, you may want to skip this step until you’ve got boots on the ground in a relevant role.

Some organisations are also happy to pay for employee membership fees, so take this suggestion with a pinch of salt and some common sense.

IOSH are the chartership organisation for the health and safety industry in the UK and have a global reach. Being a member of a relevant chartership organisation can show that you’re invested in health and safety, and potential employers may look favourably on this. IOSH also send a monthly magazine to their members which covers topics relevant to the industry, so that you can keep up to date on your health and safety knowledge. Both their free and member only events are also fantastic for developing your knowledge.

If you want to know more about IOSH’s regular webinars, you can read more about my experience with them and why I think you need to attend them here.

Start recording your Continued Professional Development (CPD)

If you attend webinars, read articles, research papers, books or even watch health and safety related videos or tv shows, you should record what you’ve done and when you have done it, so you can start developing a CPD profile.

This can be a great way to track the knowledge that you’re developing, and recording what you’ve done can help you remember the content itself. If you’re not using an online CPD platform, you could add in a “CPD profile available upon request” to the bottom of your CV, and if an employer is interested in what you are doing to keep developing, they may ask for a copy. If they don’t ask, you then have a ready-made list of talking points should you manage to gain an interview.

Include your hobbies and interests

Hobbies and interests show that you have a life outside of work, and they can be a great way to showcase the kind of person you are and the values that you hold. You would be surprised by how much you can learn simply from what a person is interested in, and how it reflects their personality and work ethic.

Exercise based hobbies such as football, running, cycling, martial arts, or dance can show that you’re motivated and active, and that you value your wellbeing.

Hobbies like woodworking or crafting can show that you’re good at problem solving or that you’re not afraid of a long-term project.

Creative hobbies like photography, painting, and digital design can show that you have patience and precision when it comes to completing work, as well as a creative flair.

As well as hobbies, include any charities or social causes that are close to your heart – for example, if you’re applying for a job in environmental management, you might want to add that you’re a member of a wildlife group or an environmental charity.

Make sure it’s tailor-made

No two job roles are exactly alike, so it makes sense that your application shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all either. You should have two types of CVs. The first is a general CV that you update regularly, which covers all your education, skills, and experience.

This is the CV that you can submit to the HR department of companies you’re interested in working for, for them to keep on file in case anything suitable comes up.

The other type is a tailor-made CV – once you’ve found a specific role that you want to apply for, edit your CV to emphasise the kind of skills and experience you have that are best suited for that role. It never hurts to do some research in to the company and get an idea of their ethos and values to help you learn what they’re looking for beyond the job advertisement.

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