What Is Job Shadowing?

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Job shadowing can be an important career step for anyone who is looking to break into a new field or learn more about the job of their dreams. You can find opportunities to shadow a new position in almost any field. In this article, you’ll learn about job shadowing as an option for individuals who want to figure out what job might be the best fit.

What is job shadowing?

Job shadowing is an important process of observing the day-to-day tasks of a job in order to learn whether or not it is a good fit for your skills and interests. Job shadowing is often targeted at people who are deciding on a career path or are in the early phases of career planning. It usually entails following an employee while they complete their regular duties and daily routine. You could even work on some light skill development, but since these are usually short programs that sometimes only last a day or two, they are more associated with observation than skill development.

What are the benefits of job shadowing?

Here are some of the benefits of job shadowing:

Important insight

Partaking in a job-shadowing program offers important insights about the career and the profession that will help you decide if its the right fit for you.

Organizational information

By job shadowing, you gain information about an organization or industry you might want to work in. This can be important for setting the right expectations.


Job shadowing is a good way to network and meet important people in fields you might want to work in.

Skill development

Job shadowing could result in light skill development.

How to schedule and conduct job shadowing

Below are steps you can follow to schedule and conduct job shadowing:

1. First, seek opportunities where job shadowing is common

When seeking opportunities, look in fields where job shadowing is likely to occur. This includes government agencies, large corporations, service jobs like hospitality and customer service, medical professions and more. Make a list of industries that interest you and narrow it down to companies you might want to work at.

2. Second, inquire with companies about job shadowing

With your list prepared, you can start inquiring. Call the companies on your list and ask about job shadowing opportunities. You can also connect with human resources (HR) professionals via email or business social networking sites or professional organizations. By contacting HR, you are likely to get to the right person who maintains the job shadowing program.

3. Then, prepare questions in advance

Be prepared to ask questions. Depending on the job shadowing program, you may have limited time to ask questions. Be prepared by writing down what you want to know about the job, company and industry, in advance. This will ensure that you don’t forget to ask the important questions when the time comes.

4. Next, arrive on time and dressed in the correct attire for the role

Treat job shadowing like any new career opportunity and put your best foot forward. This means ensuring you are wearing the correct attire for the role. Be sure that you appear clean and look professional for your job shadowing program. 

5. Finally, perform job shadowing duties and observation

During the job shadowing program, you may be asked to observe or perform certain duties. You will likely have the opportunity to ask questions and may develop some new hard or soft skills while you are there. Make sure you understand the expectations of your job shadowing program and perform the duties in accordance with them.

Can I get paid for job shadowing?

Generally, there is no payment associated with job shadowing. It’s a short-term commitment that allows potential applicants to explore jobs and their own interests in order to develop skills and experience as the main objective. 

Can I include job shadowing on my resume?

Job shadowing can be used on your resume. In most cases, job shadowing is included at the bottom of a resume where you would normally list awards, scholarships, volunteer experience or publications. You may choose to include it within the work experience of a chronological resume format. In a functional resume, job shadowing could be included in a more prominent way if it makes sense to the job you are applying for.

Example of job shadow training

Here is an example situation for job shadowing:

Gail works at a restaurant and has expressed interest in moving from a serving position to an open management position. After discussing the position with Gail, Gail’s manager, Rose, has decided that she can shadow her for a week to decide if she wants to take the job. 

During this time, Gail watches how Rose performs her essential duties like opening the restaurant, counting down the till and doing bank deposits. Gail is given the opportunity after each shift to ask questions. By the end of the week, Gail has started performing some of Rose’s duties while shadowing and is gaining the essential skills she needs to be successful in the role. Most importantly, however, Gail learns it’s the right fit for her.