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Heathgate Search: Key tips to help you to advance your Health and Safety career

As a Director at Heathgate Search, I oversee our specialist interim and permanent Health and Safety recruitment services. In this role, I have been able to support critical Health and Safety appointments for a diverse range of clients across the Private, Public and Third sectors.

Today, I want to share with you, my key tips to help you to advance your Health and Safety career and the essential skills required for you to stand out and secure your dream job.

You only get one chance to make a first impression

In a competitive market, it is vital that your CV is clear and concise and capture the reader’s attention. Did you know that 75% of applicants are rejected before they reach the hiring manager, so it is crucial that you master these basics. A poorly formatted CV will also get you discarded in the first-round review, so here are some top tips to help you to make a great first impression and stand out.

  • Ensure that your CV is written in a legible black font i.e. Arial or Calibri and it isn’t any longer than 3 pages
  • Don’t include a photo or use gimmicky graphics
  • Use the following format when laying out your CV - Contact information, Personal Summary, Achievements, Work Experience, Education, Qualifications and Skills
  • Check your CV thoroughly for any spelling mistakes and grammatical errors
  • If you do have any gaps between employment, ensure that you briefly highlight why/what you were doing

 

 

Outside of your CV, please ensure that your Linkedin profile photo is professional as recruiters and potential hiring managers will check.

You will need to be technically competent

As a Health and Safety professional, you are employed to prevent work-related death, injury, or ill health. I have outlined a guide of the most requested qualifications/memberships that our clients are looking for, depending on the stage of your career.

  • Health and Safety Advisor (NEBOSH General Certificate, NCRQ Certificate in Applied Health and Safety, Level 3 NVQ Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety) - Tech IOSH
  • Health and Safety Manager (NEBOSH Diploma, Degree in Occupational Health and Safety, NCRQ Diploma in Applied Health and Safety, NVQ Level 5 Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety Practice) - Graduate Member of IOSH
  • Head of Health and Safety (Level 6 qualification, Level 7 qualification) - Chartered Member of IOSH
  • Health and Safety Director (Level 6 qualification, Level 7 qualification) - Chartered Member of IOSH, Chartered Fellow of IOSH

 

 

Qualifications are the key starting point before being invited for an interview. It will show that you have the technical knowledge required however you will also need hands-on experience within your field.

There is no substitute for experience 

Whether you have a level 3 or a level 6 Health and Safety qualification, it is essential that you gain hands-on experience as a Health and Safety professional. You will also need to have an in-depth understanding of H&S legislation, sector-specific risks and the relevant control measures that will need to be implemented to keep everyone safe.

Workplace experience will help to complement your academic studies by providing another way of learning outside of the classroom. It will also provide you with the crucial knowledge, skills, and personal attributes that employers look for. Outside of Health and Safety, I would seriously recommend improving your commercial skills, as you will need to understand what makes a business and organisation successful and how your department can provide support.

Why soft skills are so important

As you will be required to influence from the top-down and the bottom up, it is essential that you have the soft skills required to influence behaviour and create a positive safety culture. At Heathgate Search and during my time within the Health and Safety recruitment space, I have successfully recruited several Health and Safety Directors, Managers and Advisors and the key differentiator between receiving an offer and unfortunately being unsuccessful will be your soft skills. Below I have listed some of the key soft skills that I would recommend mastering if you wish to reach the heights of your industry.

  • Communication
  • Leadership
  • Interpersonal
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Ability to influence and engage
  • Work ethic
  • Adaptability

 

 

If you would like some more advice specifically on this section, then drop me a message and connect with me on Linkedin.

Find a great mentor 

Through the Heathgate Search mentorship programme, we will help to match entry-level and more experienced Health and Safety professionals with industry leaders and experts. Finding a great mentor will help you to progress your Health and Safety career, as a mentor will share their knowledge and experiences with you and offer a different perspective. Mentors can also help you to develop your hard and soft skills as well as your ability to lead and manage.

Networking 

Before the world was shut down by the pandemic, IOSH had a network of branches that members of the Health and Safety community could attend. The IOSH networking events were a great place for members to meet, share best practice and enjoy a few drinks and nibbles together. During these unprecedented times, the networking events have now moved online and IOSH is running a series of virtual events, webinars, and workshops.

Also, through our in-depth Health and Safety network, we can help you to secure your dream job and advance your Health and Safety career.

How to perform in an interview 

Now that you have read through my top tips, I will share with you some key techniques to help you to prepare for your interview and most importantly, secure your dream role.

Before you attend an interview, please make sure that you have researched the organisation and the role in-depth. Giving that interviews are now being held virtually, it’s vital that you have tested your camera and microphone and that the lighting is adequate. You must be well presented and dress as if you were attending a face-to-face interview.

During an interview, clients will ask you to run through your CV, talk through your experiences to date, and then ask you a series of competency-focused questions to test your technical knowledge. A great model to use, which is readily available online is the STAR model which stands for Situation, Task, Action and Results. The STAR interview response method can help you to answer these questions as you will be able to provide concrete examples or proof that you have the experience and skills for the job. Also, during the interview, clients will be assessing the soft skills I mentioned previously, as they will need to know that you have the ability to influence and engage.

If you wish to have a confidential conversation about taking the next step in your career or you require specialist Health and Safety recruitment support, please email liam.squires@heathgatesearch.co.uk or call 0207 459 4073.

To view our latest opportunities please visit www.heathgatesearch.co.uk and follow Heathgate Search on Linkedin.

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