Welcome to the Safeti Podcast
‘How to progress your health and safety career’, with Jack Cornick
In this episode, we take a look at how you can boost your health and safety career with Jack Cornick from Allen & York.
Jack provides valuable insights into how the HSE market is developing in the digital age and shares strategic advice to set yourself apart from the competition.
Jack Cornick – connect with Jack on Linkedin
Allen & York Recruitment – UK recruitment agency with specialisms across HSE disciplines
UK Employment Sponsor List – companies that sponsor non-UK candidates as discussed by Jack
How to become a Health and Safety Officer – Safeti Blog – check our blog with tips on how to get ahead
You can read through the entire show here Safeti Podcast #001 MP3 Transcript
Here’s a sample of the show….
Richard Collins: Hi. Welcome to the podcast. I’m your host Richard Collins. I’d like to introduce our first guest on the safeti podcast. His name is Jack Cornick, he leads up the health and safety team at Allen & York. He’s recently come off a round table discussion on the state of the industry with IOSH. I’m delighted to have Jack on the show as our first guest.
He really takes an enthusiastic and proactive approach to understanding the demands of different sectors to help you make the right decisions and progress your career. He really wants to go above and beyond to understand what these different demands mean for you as a candidate. Okay, and let’s go and see what he has to say. Jack Cornick, welcome to the safety podcast it’s our first episode and you’re the first guest, so welcome to the show and thanks very much for coming along.
Jack Cornick: Thanks Richard. It’s a privilege to be talking to you and thanks ever so much for having me.
Richard Collins: Not a problem, so the issue or the topic that we’re going to address today is how to progress your health and safety career. This is something, obviously, that both of us have a bit of an exposure to, yourself being a recruitment manager and myself being a health and safety professional. Hopefully we can have a little bit of a chat and give people some insights into the things that might help them progress quicker in their career and look at some of the pitfalls and how they might overcome them as well. Kicking off then, let’s let people know a little bit about your background then, Jack.
A little bit about Jack
I’ve been recruiting now for three years in a variety of different areas. I joined Allen & York in 2016 into their health and safety team which has been running now for circa, 20 years. Within about six months, I’ve become a manager of a team and I head up a team of five people who look across the health and safety space, corporate areas, construction, CDM and others as well in addition to that, so I’ve been doing that now for around 18 months to two years, really enjoying it and it’s a great sector work in as well and I think it’s going to be really exciting and an evolutionary period so it’s a great time to be recruiting.
Richard Collins: Great Jack, so let’s dig in to some of the issues that we had discussed on this topic and where I think you can add a lot of value for people that are listening. There’s a lot of people out there obviously trying to break into the health safety and environmental space, what, from your experience, have you seen to be the biggest challenges or obstacles for people just even getting into their first safety jobs from the get go.
Jack Cornick: What I tend to see quite a bit of is people moving from, I suppose, mid level management roles into health and safety positions, either through a keen interest or a certain company looking to push them into that sort of position. So, for example, in manufacturing, it’s quite common to see production managers or technical managers moving into health and safety positions.
How is the market?
Jack Cornick: What that means is that there’s a lot of people coming through who are professionally qualified, graduated just on maybe their IOSH general certificate or equivalent who struggle to break into the market because those opportunities have been dominated by people who are maybe already within those companies who are looking to transfer, so I suppose what we see is that not a lack of opportunity.
But I think there’s maybe a few opportunities at the assistant or graduate level that may present themselves and that can be a bit of an obstacle to people who maybe have just studied a health and safety degree, or as I’ve said, have just done their general certificate and they’re looking for that first role.
So that’s something we see quite a lot of and again, I suppose location can add to that, if you’re in rural areas or on the outskirts of the UK, then that can be an even bigger problem than if you’re based in, perhaps London or Manchester or many of the central areas.
Growing your network
Richard Collins: Yeah. Absolutely. It’s interesting that you should say that people even trying to get in at the lower level jobs, might struggle. Is there anything there then that you would say to them to try and compete with those that are coming from the more technical, the production managers, maybe site managers in construction and so forth? Is there anything that they might be able to do that would give them a bit of an edge or even a shout in to get an interview or to get offered a job?
Jack Cornick: Of course, so having a big network is really, really important. Going to things like your local IOSH branches and those meets, networking with practitioners who are already in that space is really, really important. I think, sometimes within safety, is a case of who you know rather than what you know and I think there will be many people with similar stories, so networking and becoming present on social media, I think it is really important.
It’s amazing how many people are now using LinkedIn and have a big media presence on there, so networking would be one. Secondly would be to get any hands on experience that’s available to you within the health and safety arena.
Jack Cornick: I see a lot of people who do great work in voluntary roles or organizations in their local community, whether that’s doing a few risk assessments for their local church or community centers to help them out and whether that’s going to do some hands on voluntary work with family or friends, just to get some exposure and some hands on and demonstrable experience is also really, really useful, but the most important thing for people is perseverance.
Maybe my first or initial comments sounded quite pessimistic in that there’s a lack of opportunity. I think that’s wrong, there are opportunities for people out there, but you have to be persistent and you have to really work hard to get into those and if you do, those opportunities will present themselves eventually.
Richard Collins: Yeah, I got you. You really have to show that you want that, I guess and that’s something that I actually written a short article on safety.co.uk regarding how to become a health and safety officer, just to differentiate yourself.
You have to get involved in things, gets those little nuggets of experience, whether it be in an existing rule that offers you an opportunity to help with … to be a fire warden or a first aider or something like that, that you have to actually grasp those and those little bits and pieces add up to help you get noticed and help you demonstrate that you really want to get into the industry I guess.
Responses from recruiters
Richard Collins: I noticed on social media recently a little bit of a debate between a recruiter and some, I suppose HSE professionals and others. I think the recruiter had said that people shouldn’t apply for the jobs that they aren’t qualified for and that started a bit of an argument and healthy debate.
It was interesting for me I just wondered, some of the guys coming back were saying, “Well, the description in the jobs is unrealistic and the people don’t exist” and then, as well as that, that sometimes companies are guilty of fishing for the best candidates. But whenever suitable candidates would contact them or apply for the jobs, that they won’t even acknowledge that they’ve contacted them or give them any feedback as to what they’re doing wrong.
Obviously, with your experience, what would your take on that be?
It’s a common obstacle or issue across, not only the health and safety market, but I suppose many, I think that can be applied, certainly with regards to job descriptions. I would tend to agree. I think there are a lot of people out there, maybe even including myself who are guilty of fluffing up job advertisements, making them sound, really interesting opportunities and part of the role is to gain interest in those roles.
What we have to remember is that those job descriptions are put together by a client or an organization as a list of ideals and it’s really almost the perfect candidate and to be honest with you, on 95% of occasions, that perfect candidate doesn’t exist.
There’s not usually that one person that ticks every one those boxes, so I think we all have to start being a bit more realistic about those boxes, so I think we all have to start being a bit more realistic about that, and my job as a recruitment consultant might be to talk to clients and ensure they are being realistic about what they’re looking for within the market and whether that exists.
Perfect candidates don’t exist
Jack Cornick: That’s one thing for people to bear in mind, and I’m always a big advocate of if you match, or if you think you match, 60-70% of those skills that are being advertised, don’t hesitate to apply for that role and start talking to people. I had a great conversation with a gentleman the other day and he said, “Funny enough, the jobs that I often apply for are not the ones that I get, but the relationships I build as a result, mean I get the right role at the end of it. So sometimes even if that role might not be right, the opportunity to have a conversation with someone can sometimes open a door.
Moving onto, I suppose that the feedback comment and I suppose, not getting back to people with adequate feedback is a really difficult one and it’s hard to comment, I suppose, given that every recruitment company and even those internal recruitment teams within larger organizations are very different in terms of the way they operate to give people, I suppose, and idea about what it’s like.
Jack Cornick: On average, I will receive 20 to 30 applications per day within my inbox for any one of my roles that I’m advertising at that time, given time constraints and other things, it’s very difficult to get back to every single one of those people, but I’ll do my best either by email or by LinkedIn or by phone if possible or I text it to get back to them to either arrange a follow up conversation or pass on feedback, but there may be many occasions where roles are receiving a hundred applications and it’s very, very difficult to get back to every single person.
So I’m not a big advocate of it and I certainly, as a general rule of thumb, will try and get back to everyone. As I said, it’s very difficult to comment on other recruitment company practices, and again, in an ideal world, you want everyone to get feedback on their applications on every interview, because if they’re not getting the role that they’ve applied for, at least they can get some value from the process and take that forward with them into other processes to ensure that they’re successful the next time round.
For the remainder of this transcript, go to this page How to progress your H&S Career
1) The first one, is to make sure that you are not afraid to give a recruitment manager a call, have a chat with them, make yourself known, sometimes using email isn’t always the best way to differentiate yourself from the rest of the crowd.
2) Number two, is the development of a personal brand. Nowadays, in the digital age you cannot underestimate the value of being able to be transparent across social media such as LinkedIn, to be able to demonstrate what your principles are and what your unique selling point is, are both very important aspects of establishing your brand
3) And lastly, number three, the development of your soft skills. What we were talking about here is your ability to communicate, coach and influence with different types of audience, whether that be speaking to shop floor workers or trying to pitch to a board of directors in a company.