Life Cycle of a Safety Career

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I will “do” safety until I can no longer walk around a jobsite. Heck, even if I can’t walk around, I’ll probably still be at my desk doing phone surveys for insurance clients! The life cycle of a safety career can be long if you’d like. I don’t care how you entered the profession, you can make it last by doing some important things.

My vision for you as a safety professional is that after years of hard work in the corporate world, you are able to enjoy a flexible lifestyle by transitioning to a consulting or independent contractor role. You know, write your own ticket and set your own hours!

Even if your transition from corporate life is many years in the future, start planning NOW. And on the flipside, if you’re approaching retirement, it is not too late for you to take my advice so you can put your best safety self forward.

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1. OFFICE SKILLS – These are the skills that pay the bills. Literally, as a consultant, you will need to write proposals and invoices at minimum to survive.

If you started working in safety “by accident,” or came up from the trenches, your computer skills may be lacking. You’re the hunt & peck person who is jealous of how a millennial can type fast on a tablet and even quicker on a laptop. Your practical safety skills are invaluable, there is no doubt. However, you need to make yourself into the total package to stretch the life of your safety career.

– Take a keyboarding class: Try www.freetypinggame.net while you watch TV at night or find a cheap CD-Rom program to use for practice.

– Learn the basics of the major Microsoft Office Programs: Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Safety programs are written in Word; safety stats are kept in Excel; and safety training can be developed using PowerPoint. These have been constants for over ten years, and will provide a good foundation for whatever technology comes next.

– Learn to navigate your smartphone: You will be using your phone for site photos, communicating with field personnel, and maybe even using an inspection or auditing application.

– Extra Credit ideas:

Learn to manipulate and re-size photos taken on your digital camera or smartphone to insert them easily into reports. This is especially useful for risk control report writing.

Sit with your favorite millennial for a few hours and develop social media profiles on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, and any other sites that interest you. If you are searching for jobs, LinkedIn networking has become a standard in all industries. I will expand on this topic in a later post.

Get digital! Most documentation is kept electronically using PDFs. Make sure your resume and other career files are in the updated Word and PDF formats. When you submit your resume for a position, the body of your email is the cover letter, attach your resume as a PDF, and send!

Organize your computer files so that you can easily locate information that you need. Consider using a cloud-based service to backup files, I personally use Google Drive and it is great! This is another topic I will expand on in a later post.

Claim your website name. I have started multiple websites using WordPress, so I am a big fan. They have great templates and you can easily buy your domain name for about $20/year. You can post blogs about topics that interest you, advertise your services, and even sell products using your website.

2. THE BASICS

Think about the desired training, certifications, designations, and associations in your industry. Do you check all of the boxes? If you’re a 10+ year veteran of safety, you should have your OSHA Outreach Trainer certification for either Construction or General Industry at a minimum. This is something you can always promote – you’re an OSHA Trainer available for hire! Another commonly desired safety certification is CPR and First Aid. Bonus points if you’re a trainer, this is another skill you can promote!

Do you have letters after your name? I got my CSP as soon as I was eligible. I know it is not for everyone. Consider your background and skill set and identify the right certification for you. BCSP is a great organization to start with, go for the STS, OHST or CHST. If you’re in the insurance industry, or would like to be, go for the CRIS through IRMI or consider the ARM. This is a very small list of certifications, and there are many more out there. The ones I have listed are industry standards that most employers and potential clients are familiar with.

3. PROOF OF SUCCESS

A resume lists where you’ve been and what you’ve been up to. It gives very basic information. Look at your resume and type up a new Word document that lists your successes and achievements throughout your career. This will make the information more accessible in your memory when you are asked to describe these situations in interviews and client meetings. In the past, I have listed at least one achievement or highlight for each previous work experience on my resume. If you can quantify your achievement, that is even better, especially if you can quantify it in dollars or metrics. Some examples from my resume include:

– Improved the EMR by 7 points from 2003 to 2006 (0.85 to 0.78)

– Drastically improved the OSHA Recordable Incident Rate from 2003-2006 (3.36 to 0.67)

– Trained 20 crane operators for operator certification by 2003 Cal/OSHA deadline.

– Implemented onsite pre-employment drug testing, which saved the company thousands of dollars in one year.

**GUESS WHAT? All of the examples above are from ONE COMPANY – this is your opportunity to toot your own horn.

Hopefully these three tips give you something to think about and build upon. Side note, if you’re already retired, contact me! There are companies right now looking for 100% retired persons to provide risk control services from home. I told you it wasn’t too late!

5 comments

  1. I am 55 and have at least 15 to 20 years in my OHS Career. I love my work and love where my career is taking me. Working for Horizon North Logistics on some of the Largest Industrial Projects in the Canadian Oilsands and Northern Canadian Arctic Mining Projects in NWT & NE Baffin Island.

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