A Guide to the Perfect CV for Health and Safety Professionals

Find out what makes a resume or curriculum vitae stand out to hiring managers and how to make it happen for you.

The shockingly little time (less than ten seconds) that hiring managers spend on a CV is widely known. If you do it well, you can go straight to the interview phase; if you don't, all your experience and hard work would have been for nothing.

Your CV's specific format and content should be tailored to the industry and position you're applying for, but all CVs should adhere to a standard set of guidelines.

Read on to find out how to craft a CV that will get you invited to interviews.

Check out the free online course from Alison if you want to learn more about topics like resume & cover letter writing and identifying your job target. In a separate article, we outlined a range of free CV templates for HSE professionals.

How long should a health & safety person's CV be?

As occupational health & safety person, your resume should not exceed two sides of A4. According to Reed Survey, they discovered that 91 percent of hiring managers thought a two-page CV was ideal.

Remember to mention only what is vital to your application and express yourself concisely. Even a one-page resume is too long to hand out, especially if you're a recent graduate. Keep coming back to the application and asking yourself if what you've provided is truly necessary.

What to include in a CV?

Even if you spend a great deal of time preparing your resume, it won't be taken seriously if it doesn't appeal to the correct people. Consider your CV a marketing opportunity for yourself and your talents - here’s what you should include in a CV.

1. Cover Letter

The first and most important rule of sending your CV into combat is never submitting it alone. According to Monster, a worldwide recruitment firm, 86% of executives surveyed believe that cover letters are helpful when evaluating job applications.

A cover letter gives your CV some background, and it's a great chance to show who you are and why you'd be a good fit for the job.

If possible, the letter's recipient should be named, and its length kept to no more than 300 words.
Addressing a letter to "To whom it may concern" dilutes the power of a letter addressed directly to a potential employer or supervisor. You may have to dig into the application or company website to uncover this information. Still, if you do, you'll have taken a big step toward demonstrating your analytical personality.

Explain why you're interested in working for the organization, why you think you'd be a good fit for the listed position, and why you're happy to see it posted.

Always send a cover letter tailored to the organization and position you're applying for. If not, it serves no purpose at all for the employer. 

See Alison's free online course on Job Search Skills - Preparing Your Resume and Cover Letter to learn more.

2. Name and Professional Details

The title of your resume or CV should be your own name. Include it prominently at the top of the first page of your CV, right before your contact information and any relevant work titles or areas of expertise.

Make sure the company can reach you via email and mobile phone by including those details in your CV.

3. Employment History

This is the section where you can showcase the relevant work experience that has suited you for this position. Your resume can include any relevant work history, including internships, volunteer work, and paid employment.

Starting with your current position and working backward is the best way to present your work history to a potential employer. List your employment title, the company name, the dates you were employed there, and a brief description of your responsibilities for each position. Three or four bullet points describing your accomplishments and the abilities you picked up in that position should follow.

Quantify your contributions (for example, a percentage decrease in incident rate) and emphasize your influence using strong verbs. Consider the employer's expectations for this position and provide examples of how you've met those expectations in the past.

Avoid listing side gigs that have nothing to do with the position you're applying for; doing so will only distract the reader and give the impression that you lack the necessary abilities for the job.

4. Education and Qualifications

Where you went to college, whether or not you have a health & safety qualification, and any other relevant training or courses should all go here. You should list the schools you attended, the years you spent there, and the relevant degrees or grades you earned.

It is recommended that you list your credentials in reverse chronological order.

If you recently graduated, you may want to provide more information, such as relevant coursework, projects, or tasks.

5. Key skills 

Make sure your CV has a section labeled "Key Skills" if the position you're applying for calls for specific expertise. Put in there the four or five most essential abilities you possess that you're confident the company is seeking. Examples include ISO 45001 lead auditor, HAZOP, etc. 

6. Hobbies and Interests

If your resume is short on relevant work experience, you might find it helpful to include a section on your interests and/or hobbies. Make use of this to demonstrate how your unique set of interests is relevant to the field or role you're applying for.

What CV format is right for you?

Initial impressions are crucial. If a potential employer picks up your CV and is immediately put off by its layout or design, he is unlikely to look at it again.

Important points to keep in mind when building a cv are:

Font size and type

Don't use your artistic skills here. Go with either Arial or Calibri. Both fonts print well and have a professional appearance. Maintain a font size between 10 and 12 points.


Make sure there is a clear heading at the beginning of each section to let the reader know what to expect. Don't overdo it with an emphasis on fonts. They work well as an emphasis tool, but using them too often dilutes their effectiveness.

Review your resume for errors

Review your resume twice for typos. Also, have someone else look it over for you. Check it over for errors twice more. Make sure you don't miss out on a career opportunity because of a misspelled term you know how to spell.

Want to learn more about finding and fixing mistakes. Try this free online course, An Introduction to Proofreading, by Alison.

Take the time to make sure your CV and cover letter are perfect before sending them out, and if you don't hear back, you can assume you weren't a good fit for the position.

HSE Windsock

We are committed to guiding everyone in the right direction toward free information & resources related to Occupational Health, Safety and Environment.

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