Applying for Health and Safety Jobs

Research

This is the first step for every single job. Don’t expect to get a job without doing a good amount of research about the role. This may take time, but rather submit three or four top class applications in a week than seven or eight mediocre ones.

At this stage, also try to see if you meet most of the criteria. If you don’t, then think long and hard about whether it is worth your time in applying for the role.

Read the job description carefully – exactly what are they looking for? Is there any additional information available such as a person specification? By looking at the language used, you should be able to determine the type of person they are looking for, the challenges of the role, and what they see as important in the candidate. Try to alight your CV and cover letter/application form to these values.

Research the company – what exactly do they do, and what are their values?

Research those already in the role, or the person likely to be in charge of the recruitment process. Have they published any online articles, or made any comments, that indicate their approach to health and safety?

CV

Clearly, a good CV is critical if you want your application to even be considered and get through the first sift.

Presentation

The first impression you make is how your CV looks. Not what is in it – but how it is presented. Rightly or wrongly, a poorly laid out CV may lead to it being rejected from the outset. Make sure it is laid out clearly and professionally – and if you are not comfortable with this then use a template that comes with most word processing packages or from the internet.

This doesn’t mean go overboard – just one or two fonts and two or three font sizes are all that is needed.

Try your very best to get it on two sides of A4. Definitely no more than three sides. And unless you are explicitly told otherwise, convert it to pdf before you submit it. This not only looks more professional, but you can guarantee that it will appear to the reader exactly how you intend it. Otherwise, depending on their software, it can look awful.

Content

List your current roles, most recent first, and perhaps but a few bullet points below each role explaining the key responsibilities and achievements. This is the first thing an employer will usually read. Put the job title and employer in bold.

Don’t bother with an introduction – believe me, they are all the same and are rarely read (except perhaps just before you walk into the room if you get an interview).

In our experience, your employment history will be the most important thing on the CV by far. Unless you have a short employment history, don’t go back to your part-time high school paper round.

If you have some good health and safety experience, this will be great, but if you don’t then be sure to highlight the relevance in your bullet points – were you responsible for health and safety in your area, did you implement a programme of risk assessments, or did you develop some safe systems of work.

If you really want a job, you may need to tailor your CV to each application. Read carefully through the job description and person specification, and make reference to any relevant experience.

Cover letter

A job advert may ask for a cover letter, in which case, of course, make sure that it includes anything specifically requested. Otherwise, it is good practice to send a cover letter with every application even if not requested. The worst that can happen is that it isn’t read. But at this stage in the application, every little helps, so a brief few lines introducing yourself and why you would be suitable for the role may set yourself out from the crowd. Don’t just repeat things from your CV, but from your research just summarise why you would be good for the specific role at that specific employer.

The key here is that it is about the employer. Not you. So please don’t write “I feel this will be a good career for me” or “It is just what I am looking for”; explain the benefit you will bring to them.

Interview

You will probably receive several rejection emails, or simply no response at all, to many of your applications. However, eventually, you will get an interview. This is where you really need to commit time to researching the company in detail. Try to look at the following areas:

Corporate:

  • What exactly do they do?
  • What is their mission statement?
  • What are their objectives?
  • What are the key risks or challenges from a corporate perspective?

Unit or site:

  • What activities are undertaken at the site or business unit that you are being recruited to work in?
  • What are the key health and safety issues that may affect this sector?
  • Have there been any news articles about or enforcement notices served on them?

People:

  • Do you know who is interviewing you? Or if not, who is likely to be interviewing you?
  • Find out a little about them from LinkedIn and the internet – have they published any posts that suggest their views and priorities?
  • Are there other people who are likely to work in your area? You may even wish to make contact with people to get a feel for the organisation.

Be prepared. Have at least three questions ready to ask. Remember that an interview is a two-way process – it is for both parties to see of there is a match in skills and culture. You could ask about:

  • Their risk profile
  • Their current health and safety priorities
  • What are they struggling with?
  • What do they want from you?

Notice that these questions are about them – not you. If you structure questions in this way, it makes it seem like they are the centre of the interview. They can start to envisage you working with them. As much as possible, try to avoid asking too much about what they can do for you. It is quite a turn-off when an interviewee just talks about their own development, and how the job is just what they are looking for. Of course, you can mention this, but try to keep it balanced.

Then you have to wait – will you get offered the job or not? Most employers will let you know either way, and this is increasingly done by email rather than a phone call if you have been unsuccessful.

Feel free to ask for feedback if you are unsuccessful – this can be useful to see what areas you need to focus on. But don’t take this to heart – employers will employ the best person that they interview. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t have the knowledge, skills and experience to do the work – just that someone had slightly more of these things.

We hope this guide is helpful, and wish you the best of luck!

Career Guide