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Job Shadowing: A Brief Guide

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While many people have their minds set on a particular job, some of us may feel a little confused about our ideal career field.

In that situation, a lot of experts may suggest job shadowing as a way to determine what career to take. So what is job shadowing? And how can it guide us while looking for a job?

In today’s article, you’ll find all the information and tips you need to know about this kind of training. Let’s dive right in!

What is Job Shadowing?

Job shadowing is a form of job training where those who are interested in a certain career observe experienced employees as they perform the roles of the job.

This training technique is highly versatile and can be used in several situations and for different purposes.

You can also use it in a big firm or a smaller company, as it helps new candidates familiarize themselves with the roles of a certain career.

How Does Job Shadowing Work?

The process of job shadowing varies depending on the specifications of each job and the purpose of the training.

In most cases, job shadowing involves following a professional as he does his role throughout the job day.

There’s also virtual job shadowing where you watch the employee online in the form of videos or live feeds.

You may take notes, ask questions, or inquire about anything. However, job shadowing is not hands-on training like true internships.

What is the Purpose of Job Shadowing?

One of the best ways to learn more about a certain job is to observe someone as they do it. Job shadowing can offer various advantages, such as:

  • A quick way to learn about a job role and gain first-day job experience
  • Helps you explore career options and whether a certain career path is suitable for you

What Skills Do You Gain from Job Shadowing?

1. Gain Insight

Understanding the responsibilities of your role is an essential part of getting a job. Luckily, job shadowing allows you to learn and reflect on the experiences of colleagues, so you can figure out where it’s the right job for you.

2. Empathize

When you’re shadowing an employee, you’ll learn more about the nitty-gritty details of the job and the kind of challenges you’re going to face.

This way, you get to empathize and imagine how you would react and do to solve these problems in the future.

3. See How Teams Work

While on the training, you’ll also get to observe how each staff member coordinates and collaborates with the rest of the team to get the work done.

This also gives you a quick insight into the workplace culture if you’re joining the firm in the future.

4. Learn from Others’ Experiences

“Social learning” is one of the best side effects of job shadowing. Since you’re watching a real professional do their job, you get to learn various tricks and helpful tips that could’ve taken you years to figure out on your own.

When is Job Shadowing a Good Idea?

Job shadowing is a great form of training if you’re new to a certain job. However, it can be extra effective in particular jobs. This includes jobs that require hands-on experience, such as:

  • Restaurant Employees
  • Medical Professionals
  • Manufacturing Jobs
  • Administrative Duties
  • Skilled Trades
  • Product Development

The common factor between all these jobs is that no matter how you learn them in theory, it’s always a different story when you start doing things by hand.

For that reason, watching an employee doing it at first will help ease you into the job through observation, especially if it lacks an internship phase.

Who Does Job Shadowing?

College and High School Students

Job shadowing is remarkably common among students because it’s a quick and reliable method to provide them with a brief round-up of various jobs and their roles.

In other words, it covers everything that students need to know about a job to decide if it’s a good fit for them.


Since an internship is a hands-on job training, it usually focuses on a specific angle of a certain job.

Organizing a job shadowing program along with the internship helps you get a better idea of a certain job from specific and generalized points of view.

When Onboarding a New Employee

One of the best ways to make the onboarding process of new employees more effective is to take them on a job shadowing tour.

This way, they get to see how things actually go during a typical workday and become ready for the challenges of a certain job.

When an Employee Wants to Switch Roles

Job shadowing is an excellent method to help an employee learn about other roles within a company.

This helps in utilizing the maximum potential of the workforce by allowing employees to work in fields they’re good at and passionate about.

Are You Paid for Job Shadowing?

This may vary depending on the job shadowing program you’re taking, but in most cases, you don’t get paid as you don’t actually do anything apart from observing. However, there might be some complementary gifts at the end of the training.

How to Prepare for Job Shadowing

1. Research the Company and Position

After getting accepted into a job shadowing program, the first thing you should do is learn as much about the job and the company as possible.

This gives you a quick insight into what to expect during your training and helps you learn more efficiently.

2. Coordinate the Schedule

This step is necessary to make sure that you’re interrupting the workflow of the company and also to gain as much time and information as possible, especially if you’re doing job shadowing while on another job.

3. Dress to Impress

You don’t want to stand out the wrong way during the job shadowing session.

While researching the company, try to learn about the company’s dress code and abide by it. Showing up in professional attire is a great way to leave a good impression.

4. Come Up With Questions

Job shadowing is an excellent opportunity to learn, so try to prepare questions about everything you want to learn before and during training.

How Do You Ask for a Job Shadow?

If you’re interested in asking for a job shadow opportunity, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Choose a field to explore
  2. Create a suitable rapport that explains your interest in such a field. Also, include your current skills and relevant qualifications.
  3. Look for suitable job shadow programs online (emailing companies) and in real life (usually organized by universities and colleges)
  4. Draft and submit a job shadow request, and fill in the necessary fields.

Tips for a Successful Job Shadowing

1. Choose a Field That Interests You

A job shadow program can be an incredibly enriching experience if you’re interested in the field you’re training in.

However, if you apply for one that you don’t like, you’ll be less eager to learn and end up wasting your time.

2. Ask Questions

When companies offer a job shadowing program, it’s often hosted by a top professional with remarkable expertise.

They’re prepared to answer all your questions, so don’t shy away from asking any questions if they sound silly.

3. Follow Instructions

Always remember that you’re accompanying an employee while they do their job. For that reason, you must follow any instructions that they give you while on the program.

4. Ask for a Tour

You can include a tour of the entire facility where an employee can walk you through everything and give you an all-around idea of how things work there. However, make sure that you request it in advance.

5. Greet Everyone You Come Across

Remember to stay friendly and enthusiastic while dealing with other people on the job. This helps in creating a lasting impression on workers and increases your chances of getting hired at the firm when you apply for a role.

6. Take Notes

While on the training, you’ll learn a lot of valuable knowledge that may fast-track your path to success when you’re hired.

To avoid forgetting this critical information, always write down any notes to refer back to them after the training.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a Job Shadow an Interview?

While it’s not a professional interview in the normal sense, a job shadower gets to ask professionals about job specifics to gain knowledge about the job.

Does Job Shadowing Look Good?

A job shadowing experience is a great addition to a fresh graduate resume because it shows employers that you’ve learned about the roles of the job and have a serious interest in that career.

Wrapping Up

Finding a career you love can be quite a challenge, especially if you don’t if a certain job is going to be a good fit for you, and that’s where job shadowing hops in for the rescue.

Luckily, plenty of organizations may offer job shadow opportunities in the fields you’d like to explore.

As always, don’t forget to leave a comment if you have any questions or thoughts that you want to share!

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