Are you looking for a career (or new job) in environmental health and safety? Are you passionate about making change, sustaining the well-being of those around you, and keeping people safe and healthy? If you’re looking for a job in occupational safety, or you’re a safety professional on the lookout for a new employer, here are six helpful tips for what to include on an EHS resume.
Emphasize your leadership qualities, as they are extremely valuable. Most companies suffer from the same fallbacks where health and safety is concerned, and one of the issues at the top of the list is a lack of safety leadership skills. If you can show how you’ve successfully mobilized a new safety initiative, or have a track record of successfully improving employee engagement, then be sure to list it on your resume when you apply for a health and safety position.
If you have a degree in occupational health and safety then be sure to highlight it on your resume. Even if you don’t have formal education in safety, other post-secondary degrees and diplomas may be applicable. Management, engineering and behavioral studies degrees all have relevance for a safety job. Be sure to explain in a cover letter how your non-safety education applies to keeping people safe.
Knowledge of safety procedures
One of the best ways to mitigate a lack of formal education in safety is to demonstrate a thorough knowledge of standard safety procedures and systems. In almost any safety-related job you will be required to understand and enforce safety processes that are carried out by individual employees, like lockout/tagout, as well as company-wide procedures such as incident investigation or near-miss reporting. A solid grasp on these, OSHA requirements and other safety concepts will be required for anyone whose main role is to promote workplace safety. While each company may have their own way of tracking injuries and reporting on safety performance that you can learn once you’re hired, make sure you’re well-versed in basic safety procedures before you apply.
Understanding of human error
Understanding safety regulations is one thing, but knowing why they work (and sometimes why they don’t) is another thing entirely. When it comes to slips, trips and falls, for example, human error is a factor in half of all incidents.
People are at a greater risk of injury when they’re affected by states like rushing, frustration, fatigue or complacency. Being aware of the factors that can cause people to make errors or compromise their decisions is a huge benefit to anyone interested in safety. Potential employers are also more likely to view you as a credible candidate if you’re able to show that you understand the correlation between states of mind, personal awareness and risk of injury.
If this is one of the areas where you’re lacking, get a quick primer on human factors in safety by watching the 45-minute Intro to SafeStart webinar. It will provide an overview of the biggest human factors. It will also let you walk into an interview with the ability to discuss solutions to human error.
There are a number of different professional designations that reflect the knowledge, experience and practical ability of safety professionals. The Board of Certified Safety Professionals (or the Board of Canadian Registered Safety Professionals in Canada) oversees the most well-recognized and respected safety certifications.
The qualifications are stringent for many of the certifications, and you will be required to take a test and demonstrate your prior experience in a safety-related position before you receive a safety designation. Despite the work required to receive a safety certification, it’s worth it. Being able to prove that you’re certified by a professional safety board will make you stand out from the crowd in your hunt for safety-related work and increase your compensation accordingly.
Also list other certifications or safety-related training you’ve received as either an employee (e.g., GHS or forklift training) or as a manager (e.g, 5S, ISO or project management designations). If you’ve been certified by specific safety vendors (e.g., SafeStart’s 3-day workshops for certifying SafeStart trainers) then include those as well.
See where safety fits in an organization
Every company has a budget, and every dollar allocated to safety is a dollar that isn’t spent elsewhere. It’s a huge asset for safety professionals to be able to demonstrate the financial benefits of safety and to know how to show that investing in safety can improve the bottom line.
Safety professionals should also be able to articulate how safety can benefit other departments. For example, GH Metal Solutions found that implementing a human factors safety training program improved quality and production while also meeting injury reduction targets. Results like this make operations managers extremely happy, and being able to discuss safety’s ancillary benefits can make you a more intriguing candidate for an open safety position.
One final piece of advice
It’s standard advice that job seekers in any industry should brush up on the basic challenges they’ll face if they get hired—and what they’ll do about them. For safety, this means reading about the big issues faced by safety professionals on a day-to-day basis. This safety resources page is a great place to read about the latest statistics and solutions to major safety problems. It’s worth spending a few hours on it before your next interview.