So you’re passionate about workplace safety and feel like your career has reached a plateau. A position where you work has just opened up or maybe you see an opportunity to create a new safety position within your company. But how do you achieve the safety promotion of your dreams and reach your full potential as a professional? Follow the recommendations and tips below on ways to get promoted.
Develop a Career Plan
A career plan is a personal road map that helps you determine your skills and interests, what career best suits your talents, and what skills and training you need for your chosen career. A career plan can assist you in almost any stage of your safety career, but can be especially helpful if you are striving to get promoted to a safety leadership position. By developing a career plan, you can focus on what you want to do and how to get there.
There are various templates you can use for your career plan. You should choose a format that helps you stay focused on your end goal. Any plan should include a career goal(s), the requirements of the position you are seeking, your current skills/interests, and your plan to reach your career goal(s).
Each of these career plan components are discussed below using a sample career plan for an individual seeking a safety manager position at a market leading commercial construction company. A similar format could be used for a different safety position in another industry.
To become a safety manager at a leading commercial construction company.
Requirements of the Position
- Bachelor’s degree in Health, Safety or related field
- A working knowledge of Cal OSHA, Fed OSHA and related safety regulations
- Experience developing and implementing safety programs
- Experience in HSE Management Systems (ISO 14001, OHSAS 18001)
- Relevant certification in Safety and/or Environment (Certified Safety Professional, Certified Safety and Health Manager, etc.)
- Knowledge and ability in utilizing MS Office applications and Internet
- Excellent interpersonal and communication skills
- Ability to effectively present information in a group setting
- Problem-solving skills
- Ability to respond to emergency situations
- Time management
- Current CPR/First Aid certification
- Ability to delegate to and empower others
- Ability to maintain positive perspective in the face of setback, resistance, and shifting priorities
- Associate of Applied Science in Occupational Safety & Health from Columbia Southern University
- 2 years as a committee member at ABC Construction
- Volunteer at Red Cross
- CPR/First Aid certified
Action Plan to Reach Career Goal
- Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety & Health at Columbia Southern University
- Yearly refresher training with OSHAcademy to stay up-to-date on current laws and standards
- Apply for the Associate Safety and Health Manager credential
- Apply for the Certified Safety and Health Manager credential
- Volunteer to help with more of the safety measures the safety committee is developing
- Develop ideas to improve safety for each company worked for and effective ways to implement safety plans
- Get more safety management experience
Get a Mentor
Finding the right mentor is an important step to meeting your career goals. Whether you are trying to break into a field or get promoted, a good mentor can point out your blind spots, offer suggestions, celebrate your successes, and guide your career.
Mentor relationships can be formal or informal. Whether your mentor is a friend, family member, or someone you work with, be sure to choose a mentor you can talk to openly and honestly about work-related issues—especially those which relate to safety. It is also vital your mentor be more experienced than you are; you will want a mentor who knows what it takes to reach the safety position you are seeking to be promoted to. In order to develop an effective mentor relationship, you will need to find a mentor, ask for help, and do something for them.
Find a Mentor
Think about whom, besides your boss, might be open to spending time with you to help you grow. A mentor can be instrumental in spreading positive word-of-mouth to the right people regarding your skills, talents, and abilities throughout an organization to the right people. Don’t forget to check if your employer’s human resources department has a mentoring program. Look outside the office for mentors who belong to the same association as you do or participate in the same activities you are involved in—you may find a mentor in a neighbor or relative. You can also use social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, where you can search for someone from your alma mater who would be interested in helping a college tie.
Ask for Help
If your effort to become promoted and reach your career goals is not a pressing or urgent need, you will likely receive a more positive response from a potential mentor if you do not explicitly ask “Will you be my mentor?” Being a mentor can be a long, exhausting process which sounds unappealing to many professionals. However, if you ask a potential mentor for advice on a small action or problem that requires less commitment, he/she may be more likely to remain interested in your long-term success. He/she will also appreciate your trust in his/her expert advice. While you do not need to “suck-up” to your potential mentor, you should make it clear you have faith in his/her experience as a safety professional and value any advice given. Do not forget to be confident, clear, and direct. Many safety professionals care about others, want to spread workplace safety, and enjoy “paying it forward,” so there is no need for a lack-of confidence in yourself and desire to improve.
Think of ways you can reciprocate the help you have received from your mentor. Show your gratitude and express sincere thanks for the help they give you. You can make the relationship mutually beneficial by looking for ways to support your mentor in his/her professional endeavors as well. You likely have knowledge or a skill that you can bring to the table.
Choose the Right Opportunities
If you are looking to get promoted to a safety leadership position, you will not reach your goal by sitting on the sidelines. It is vital you take smart and strategic steps to be noticed by upper-management and gain their recognition. You will need to take every opportunity to progress in your career and participate in your company’s safety efforts.
Talk About Your Career Goals with Your Manager
Be open and honest about what you hope to accomplish within the company and talk about your skills—though not in a bragging way. Managers appreciate employees who show dedication to a company and find meaningful ways to contribute.
Volunteer for Safety Projects
Not only will volunteering help you gain more safety experience, but it will also showcase your skills to your managers and make your name known within the company. When you demonstrate your skills and achieve safety successes for your company, managers are likely to take notice and increase your safety responsibilities.
Example: When some companies create a safety committee, some allow employees to volunteer to be a committee member. If your company asks for volunteers, especially when it comes to safety, you should be one of the first on their list!
Suggest Safety Improvements and Projects
Managers have many responsibilities they must fulfill on a daily basis. Because they are so busy, they may not have time or take the effort to determine ways they can improve safety within your workplace. Take notice of ways you can contribute to the safety efforts within your company and talk to your managers about projects you would like to help out with. When making a suggestion(s), be sure to avoid sounding condescending and pointing fingers. Good managers will appreciate employees who make creative suggestions which decrease the long-term costs of doing business and increase the organization’s effectiveness.
Example: You have noticed your manager seems stressed when it comes to training employees about working in a safe manner. You mention OSHAcademy safety training to your manager and talk about how all of the training can be accessed for free online.
Example: You have noticed your manager gets overloaded with random safety suggestions from the employees at your worksite. You know your manager wants to address all of them, but see that he/she is extremely busy. As a result, you offer to make a safety suggestion box and to create a report each month that categorizes the suggestions and includes action plans to address any safety hazard concerns.
By choosing the right opportunities, you will be able to become invaluable to your company and carve out a space to be the safety leader you have always wanted to be.
Ask for a Promotion
You have developed a career plan, found a mentor, and sought opportunities to increase your skills, but somehow your manager still has not offered you a promotion to the safety position you have been seeking. This is not uncommon. Many individuals who want to increase their safety responsibilities must ask for the position they want, whether it be a position which just opened up or one you create on your own. Though asking for a promotion may feel overwhelming, it is important you follow the suggestions below in order to be effective.
Prepare to Ask
- Do not walk into your manager’s office unprepared; you may unintentionally come off as unprofessional, arrogant, or rude.
- Make a list of your skills and accomplishments. You will need to have a thorough understanding of how you have influenced the growth and effectiveness of your company. Make sure you are specific and quantify exactly how much your efforts have helped the company.
- Know what position you want. Be aware of the open safety positions in your company. If there are no safety positions open, but you see a potential position, then be prepared to explain the responsibilities you would like to take on and how you would be the right person for the job.
- Schedule a meeting in advance to talk about the promotion. A yearly or semi-annual review is an ideal time to bring up your safety career goals and desires.
- Research the average salary for the position you are seeking. Resources such as Salary.com and PayScale.com can help you figure out what you are worth. You do not need to specify how much money you would like to make when you ask for a promotion, but you should be prepared to talk about it if necessary.
During the Meeting
- Thank your boss for meeting with you.
- Discuss your accomplishments matter-of-factly and how you have enjoyed helping the company grow and improve.
- Mention the position you would like to obtain, the things you would like to achieve in that role, and how you plan on reaching those goals.
- Give your boss the opportunity to talk. Though you should come prepared with talking points to the meeting, you should look at the meeting as a conversation. If your boss feels you are not ready for a promotion for any reason, ask for feedback to see where you have room for improvement.
- If you do not get the promotion, be sure to follow-up on the feedback you receive to ensure you are meeting your objectives and goals.
Avoid Negative Behaviors
- Do not think you are entitled to a promotion. Though you have taken many steps to deserve a promotion, your manager may have a more complete perspective on what is required and/or the company’s budget.
- Do not gossip or compare yourself to other employees. You will not look better by putting down others. You will only appear rude and unprofessional.
- Do not bring your personal life into the mix. Though you may need more money to pay for a house or make payments on a hospital bill, they do not focus on the company and will only distract from the real goal of the meeting.
- Do not get frustrated if you do not get the promotion. Show you are a team player and not willing to give-up after a minor set-back.
By following these suggestions, you will be better equipped to get the safety position of your dreams and know how to ask for it effectively!