Preparing for a Career in Occupational Safety

Occupational safety is one of the under-the-radar majors offered at UW-Whitewater, but it shouldn’t be. Year after year, graduates of the program experience a strong employment rate, along with one of the highest paying entry-level salaries of all majors at UW-Whitewater.

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Career & Leadership Development compiles an Annual Report of Employment & Continuing Education, a record of where the past year’s graduates are employed or are attending graduate or professional school. Here is a sample of where some of the safety grads from the past couple of years were employed after graduation:

I contacted several of the employers listed above, and here are some selected attributes that they expect students to demonstrate in their employment preparation before entering the Safety profession:

  • As a UW-W Safety graduate myself from several years ago, one of my personal recommendations for students looking for internships or their first job would be to spend the time up front on their resumes. I believe one of the most beneficial decisions I made as a student was to have Career & Leadership Development and the Safety faculty review my resume in advance.
  • Make your resume uniquely and effectively different in terms of organization, layout, communication, relevance and substantive content that speaks to the job description.
  • We are looking for students who can demonstrate that they have a strong work ethic. When reviewing resumes we are always looking for evidence that they are active in their education. Resumes should highlight past work experience, current GPA and coursework, and student or professional organizations. Review and have others review your resume before submitting.
  • Resume presentation and interview performance are samples of how one presents oneself; this is a skill that will be needed many times in the Safety profession.
  • During the interview, internship candidates should be prepared to provide examples that support their resume. We are looking for candidates that can demonstrate examples of problem solving, leadership, initiative, conflict management, and teamwork. A general understanding of the company and their product or service also goes a long way.
  • During the interview, express energy, passion, initiative and a hunger to enter the Safety profession; be willing to do what it takes to succeed. These characteristics may be verbally and non-verbally communicated by tone of voice, mannerisms, confidence and conviction expressed during the interview.
  • Lack of confidence during an interview can be a deal breaker. Know yourself well and practice interviewing so that you seem more sure of yourself.
  • Demonstrate a balance of sincerity and conviction for Safety compliance, along with interpersonal toughness and resilience when getting employees to buy in to Safety procedures.
  • I think the most important characteristic an aspiring Safety professional needs to have is being personable and relating to your coworkers. Knowing all the regulations and all the safety information in world won’t matter if you can’t build rapport and form relationships with your coworkers. Aspiring Safety professionals must understand that in order to get coworkers and management to buy into safety, you have to explain why you need safety, how to work safely, and most important is asking for coworkers’ and management’s input on safety. People are more likely to do something that they suggested or helped develop. A Safety professional has to know how to deal with all different types of personalities and leverage those different styles to help move the safety program forward.

Several employers seeking safety candidates attended the Hawk Career Fair on September 26. This semester and next, some employers will also be conducting interviews in Career & Leadership Development’s Bailey Interview Center for employment and internship opportunities in safety.

To find out which employers will be interviewing, check Hawk Jobs for interview schedules and attached job and internship descriptions.Then, be prepared to impress the employers, based upon the tips that are provided above, and the research that you’ve conducted about them.

Photo by N A I T.

Top Three Job Search Tips From Recruiters

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Tip #1 – Be focused

Before you start looking for a job, know what kind of job you’re looking for. While it’s good to be flexible, you need to know what you’re good at, what you’re interested in, and what environment shares your values.

Don’t apply for just any job you see. Do your research. If you are qualified for the job and it interests you, apply.

Keep in mind, an organization wants the best person for the job. Why are you the best person for the job for which you are applying? Be able to articulate, both on your resume and at an interview, why you are the best. If you are asking an organization to accept your word that you are the best, here’s a hint – they won’t. If you can’t tell them specifically what they want to know and back it up with facts and figures, that interview, much less the job will not be yours.

Tip #2 – What have you accomplished?    

It’s good to be a “leader,” but what, exactly does that mean? What have you accomplished as a leader? Be prepared with facts and figures to back up your statement.

Do you have good communication skills? What specifically did you accomplish with those skills? How are your customer service skills? Again, what specifically did you accomplish with those skills?

Accomplishments are strong indicators of how qualified you are. They are more significant than your job duties/responsibilities. Make sure your accomplishments are verifiable and measureable and related to the job qualifications and description.

Tip #3 – Learn how to network effectively

Long before you start looking for a job, you should learn to effectively network. Good networks take time to generate. Think about your best friend. How long have you known him/her? Have you been friends for years?

Like good friends, networking is a two way street. You’ll want to help them just as they help you. None of this happens overnight. If you expect someone to recommend you for a position, they need to know you, which will take time. If you want a recruiter to think of you for a job that’s open with their organization, they have to know if you will be a good fit, which also takes time.

Finally, don’t forget your contact just because you found a job. Keep in touch with them. Congratulate them when you hear about a promotion they receive. Did you find some information that may be of use to them? Forward it to them. Or just keep in touch by saying “Hi.” If they helped you find your job or gave you some good advice, don’t forget to thank them. A little kindness and courtesy goes a long way.

Do you have any good advice to share with us? We’d love to hear from you!

Photo by worldwaterweek.