Health and Safety CV/Resume Guidelines

There’s so much conflicting advice about the information you should include in your CV, the format it should take and even how many pages you should write, it can be difficult, even for the most experienced job hunter, to know if their CV is as well crafted as they hope it is.

In this article we hope to equip you with the necessary information to help you ensure your CV fits the bill when it comes to health and safety job applications.

Your CV one of the most important tools at your disposal to help you secure an interview. A well-presented, professional CV will give a good impression and make is easy for a recruiter to get a picture of your suitability for the role without having met you.

Online Applications

Before we get into writing a CV it’s worth thinking about how it will be used. Job applications are practically 100% online, so the chances are that you will be emailing or uploading your CV.

When you submit your CV online be sure to do so in Microsoft Word .doc format and ensure you’ve used the standard formatting inside Word. This helps with the automatic upload into a CV database that usually happens after you submit your CV.

It’s also really easy to apply for jobs online, so it’s not unusual for a recruiter to receive dozens or even hundreds of unsuitable applications in addition to the many potential applicants they may have on their own databases. Getting your message across quickly and clearly will massively improve your chances of success.

What to include in your CV

Formatting your CV for a health and safety job is fairly standard. You will want to include the usual range of headings as these will be expected by the hiring manager and omitting them will mean your CV will be difficult to asses.

Contact details

It sounds obvious that you would include contact details but it’s actually quite common to receive CVs with no phone number – a lack of contact details could well result in your application being rejected.

Always try to make it as easy as possible for people to make contact by including a monitored email address and daytime phone number.

It’s also important to provide your address, or at least the town in which you live, to show that you live within a reasonable distance. Many recruiters are immediately put off by long commutes or vague relocation plans.

Your full name, address, and your necessary contact information should be at the very top of your CV, it should be centered in the middle of the page, and your name should be written in bold to make it stand out. Also write your name in slightly larger font than everything else to make it easy for the hiring manager to identify your CV quickly.

Personal Statement

Your chance to write a paragraph that summarises your career so far, your approach and your plans for the future, highlighting your strengths while avoiding clichés such as “can effectively communicate with people at all levels of the organisation” or that you can “work independently or as part of a team”.

A really good profile will provide context for the rest of the CV.

Qualifications and memberships

Ensure that you actually hold every qualification and membership listed, particularly where training expires or a membership has lapsed. Very few people lie about their professional credentials but an oversight at this stage can cause serious problems further down the line.

List only your main qualifications, training and professional memberships on the front page, saving details of any short courses or less relevant training for the last page.

Education

It’s usually not necessary to include school or college exam results or irrelevant training in a professional CV unless this is your first health and safety job and you do not have any experience.

If you have a degree or better than this should be included not matter the subject studied.

References

The final thing you need to add to your CV is two previous references. Ideally previous employers, if this is not possible, consider using former colleagues or character references. Acceptable references are often a mandatory aspect of eligibility for employment, therefore, it’s important that whoever you include on your CV for a reference is available and has been informed in advance that you have included them.

Employment history

Always list employment history in reverse chronological order with employers’ names, dates of employment and job titles followed by an overview of each job. Dates of employment should always be given as month and year with any gaps clearly accounted for.

I would recommend writing one paragraph for each job, outlining details of the position followed by 5-8 bullet points to list your key responsibilities.

Don’t assume an employer knows who an employer is or what they do. There are many very large companies which are alien to anyone other than previous employees and industry insiders. Include their full name and a very short bio of who the employer is and what they do. One sentence is usually enough.

Things to omit from your CV

It’s not really necessary to include details of your hobbies or interests but some people choose to do so. You should not include details of your age, race, religion or any other personal information that is irrelevant to the recruitment and selection process.

Just a few more considerations:

  • Don’t use graphics, colour, tables or mixed fonts as they distract from the content
  • Send your CV in Word format to avoid compatibility issues with software / databases
  • Check spelling and grammar automatically and manually. Then check it again!
  • Ask a friend, family member or colleague to proof-read your CV
  • Always use standard industry terminology and abbreviations
  • When uploading to a CV database make sure your CV is “keyword rich”

Besides ensuring you have all the correct information on your CV, there are also a few other tips that you absolutely need to follow in order to increase your chances of getting the job that you are applying for.

Spelling

It should go without saying, however, spelling mistakes, grammatical issues and typos are all too common. These kinds of errors make it very difficult for an employer to proceed with your application, especially when the competition for a role is high.

Health and safety CV’s often have a lot of unusual company names, jargon and acronyms which will trigger false positives in your word processor’s spell checker. Therefore, a good idea is add words unfamiliar to your spell checker to ensure that you do not have any words underlined red.

Suitable Length

The typical advice is a CV should be no longer than 2 pages. Certainly you should make an effort to minimise the number of pages, however, priority should be given to ensuring the relevant information is presented. Keeping the pages to a minimum should pose no problem if you are a recent graduate or early in your career, however, if you are an experienced health and safety professional you may need additional pages to properly do justice to your career history.

To trim out any waffle, read and re-read your CV to rephrase sentences to reduce unnecessary words, all of which will make a difference to the length.

Another tip to reduce the page count is to decrease the margin size and header and footer, giving more space on the page. Also reducing the font size to 11 point and tweaking the spacing between sections can reclaim vital space if you are overrunning onto a new page by just a few lines.

Clean Appearance

Your CV should have a very clean and professional appearance. It should not be crowded, use white space appropriately and ensure that it is clearly laid out with the appropriate headers. Spacing can be a difficult trade-off when attempting to keep the length of your CV to a minimum. If in doubt, the priority should always be to make your CV easy to read.

One final tip, check your fonts. If you copy and paste from other sources it’s easy to end up with a mix of similar, but different, fonts on the page. It can look very odd and will distract from the professional impression your are trying to achieve.

Now you have a professional and well presented CV that has all the required information and will help you to secure your ideal job!

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