A job in the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) industry has a greater number of technical requirements than most. As with any career, there are also some preferred personal traits and skills that will increase your chances of getting a job. Let’s help you land an OHS job with some tips from recruiters working in the industry.
Tip 1: Start with a short course
When you’re considering a career in OHS, recruiters recommend OHS short courses as the best place to start. Short courses will give you knowledge of the requirements core to the job role. This will help you to decide whether OHS suits your skills and interests, before you decide to spend a larger sum of money on a longer course or qualification in a field that you’re not sure you’ll enjoy. Once you’ve established that OHS is for you, you can study towards the qualifications or certifications required for the job. Additional useful courses you could study include the BS OHSAS 18001 and ISO 14001 courses.
Tip 2: Think beyond the traditional job interview
Due to the hands-on nature of OHS, some employers find it difficult to hire someone based purely on their CV and a formal job interview. While these will definitely get your foot in a door, it’s beneficial to prepare for cases where your potential employer would like to see you in action before making their final decision. He or she may take you on a tour of the premises, where you could be asked to assess risks and hazards, apply legislation, and communicate with employees. Before going in for your interview, it’s useful to practise applying your knowledge to a real-life situation.
Tip 3: Join a professional body
Whether you’re studying towards becoming an OHS representative, or are already employed in the industry, becoming a member of a professional body such as the South African Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (Saiosh) is hugely beneficial. For a small monthly fee, Saiosh offers members benefits such as OHS workshops, e-learning courses, legal updates, magazine subscriptions, seminars and networking opportunities. Belonging to a professional body is also a surefire way to draw attention to your CV.
Tip 4: Get some experience
As with most careers, on-the-job experience is a key factor in OHS hiring decisions. Recruiters say that you need to be prepared to take on less desirable jobs when starting out in the industry. Even while you’re studying, you can actively approach organisations and ask whether they’d be willing to let you do volunteer work. Although you won’t be getting paid, the experience you’ll gain is priceless.
Tip 5: Develop strong mental ability
People working in OHS are tasked with protecting the wellbeing of employees, so attention to detail and clear thinking are essential. You will have plenty of decisions to make and priorities to assess, all of which will have an influence on the safety of many people. To ensure that the workplace is as safe as possible, you also need to be able to retain information about OHS legislation and compliance.
Tip 6: Be a people person
With their roles being so important, OHS officials should strive to command the respect of employees. You need to guard the best interests of the people under your care, be able to listen to their concerns, and solve their problems. You should also practise your public-speaking and presentation skills, as you’ll often be tasked with training employees on the critical factors concerning health and safety in the workplace.