Definition: Job shadowing is a means of learning about the tasks, roles, responsibilities, career prospects and challenges of a certain job position that fascinates the visitor. It can be a short few hours session or a week-long activity where the guest shadows or follows the host who is a professional or holds a particular job position.
The three major participants involved in job shadowing are mentioned below:
- Line Manager: The line manager is the one who decides whether to allow job shadowing, time allocation and the suitable host for this activity.
- Job Shadow Host: The host is the person who is responsible for executing such activity or say the one who is to be shadowed. He/she schedules the job shadowing, makes a time-table and imparting knowledge to the visitor, without disturbing their routine activities.
- Visitor/Guest: The visitor initiates the job shadowing activity to gain knowledge about a workplace and a job position. He/she should acquire sufficient information about the company, its working, mission, vision, achievements and values before the process begins.
Content: Entrepreneurial Management
Different Types of Job Shadowing
The host and the visitor can agree upon any of the following three ways of conducting a job shadow activity:
Observation: Being a pure form of job shadowing, for the visitor, observing the daily routine of the host and learning from his/her actions, communication and behaviour is a prominent way. In between the session, the guest even gets adequate time to put up doubts and questions to be answered by the host.
Regular Briefings: In this, the visitor is allowed to shadow his/her host for some particular activities. The host provides a brief to the guest before the activity begins and elaborates over it later on. It is common practice in medical professions.
Hands-On: This is a significant job shadowing type where the visitor is partly handed over the task observed by him/her, while the host mentors and guides the guest throughout the process.
Job Shadowing Process
Job shadowing seems to be a terrific idea for a novice, but he/she is mostly hesitant to initiate it.
The following steps can help a visitor to accomplish a job shadowing activity:
- Select an Organization: Target a preferable company where you would like to perform job shadowing.
- Recognize a Contact Person: Now, that you are clear about your aim, find out the contacts over social media platforms like LinkedIn, which would help you reach there.
- Drop an Outreach Email: Draft and send a professional mail specifying your interest and purpose of job shadowing, be precise and polite.
- Research on Organization Thoroughly: After getting a positive response, explore the company’s newsletters, stories and website to be aware of its history, work, values, vision, mission, achievements and clients.
- Introduce Yourself and Your Purpose: Call your contact and introduce yourself. Let your contact introduce himself/herself. Enquire if you can get an opportunity of job shadowing in his/her company.
- Prepare Yourself and Be Presentable: Right from your physical appearance to your mindset, everything should be perfectly groomed and professionally carved.
- Express Gratitude Towards Everyone: Attend the job shadowing session and lastly, don’t forget to deliver a thank you note for your host and others who supported you throughout this activity.
Benefits of Job Shadowing
Job shadowing is indeed a favourable approach for everyone involved in it.
Below, we are enlisting its advantages for the organization, the host and the visitor:
To the Organization
- Improves Hiring Decisions: It can be a part of the company’s strategic human resource management since the candidates selected through job shadowing usually have a keen interest in being a part of the organization.
- Satisfied Workforce: Many companies absorb competent visitors after job shadowing. Since these new entrants have already experienced the work environment, it enhances their satisfaction level.
- Finding an Ideal Candidate: Through job shadowing, the host gives feedback of the visitor and the organization can match his/her efficiency with the vacant job position requirement.
- Candidate’s Personality and Attitude Analysis: Sometimes, the organizations conduct job shadowing activity intending to hire fresh talent. Thus, the company becomes aware of the behaviour and attitude of the visitors.
- Test Candidate’s Ability and Skills: The host can easily judge the capabilities and competency of the guest to further support the hiring process of the company.
- Lessens Avoidable Turnover: The organization can successfully avert its workers from leaving, or say it can tremendously reduce the employees’ voluntary exit.
To the Job Shadow Host
- Reverse Learning: The host should take the job shadowing activity as an opportunity to acquire knowledge of employee expectations and a new scenario.
- Polishes Mentoring Skills: While guiding and delivering information to the visitor, the host can enhance his/her communication and teaching skills.
- Networking: Even the most casual contact in your cellphone can be of great significance when the time comes. Thus, each job shadowing activity is a means to add a new contact.
- View Things from a New Perspective: A budding mind view business situations and workings from a different aspect, enlighting the host with fresh ideas.
- Experience Sharing Opportunity: The host can narrate his/her success story and work-life experiences to motivate and connect with the visitor. The host also develops a sense of contentment and pride.
To the Visitor
- Discuss Career Goals with Experts: The guest gets a chance of meeting the professionals and experienced people who can guide him/her with the career goal and its attainment.
- Learning Experience: For a visitor, job shadowing is a lifetime opportunity to grasp practical knowledge and professional understanding.
- Build Valuable Contacts and Network: The guest can connect with resourceful people and create a strong network with the organizational personnel.
- Internship and Scholarship Opportunities: The company sometimes offer the visitor, a chance to join as an intern or a scholar to gather work experience.
- Better Career Decision-Making: The visitor can step into the real business world and closely observe their dream career to make proficient decisions.
Job Shadowing Opportunities
A visitor, whether a student or a college pass-out or a new employee can gain knowledge through a job shadowing opportunity in any of the following fields and positions:
- Manufacturing – assembler, fabricator, material handler, general labourer, warehouse worker and packaging staff;
- Product Development – product associate, development officer, assistant product manager and business analyst;
- Marketing – sales executives, brand assistant, creative assistant, advertising assistant and digital marketing associate;
- Customer Service – customer support representative, customer, success associate and customer advocate;
- Administration – secretary, office assistant and receptionist;
- Restaurant – waiters and assistants;
- Computer Programming – database administrator, system analyst, software developer and web developer;
- Quality Control – quality inspector and tester
- Medical Professions – physician assistant, nursing staff, imaging personnel, therapist and patient care technician;
- Skilled Trades – skilled trade foremen, artisan, waterproofing specialist, electrician and painter;
- Market Research – market research analyst, data analyst, stock market analyst and social researcher.
Tips for Job Shadowing
For the Visitor
Given below are some valuable suggestions for a visitor to make your job shadowing activity effective:
- A visitor should always be confident and keep a positive and open mindset.
- Remember, research enhances your learning and helps you to leave a positive impact on the host.
- Don’t waste your and your host’s time by staying busy on your smartphone while job shadowing.
- Mind your words, body language and behaviour while interacting with others at the premises.
- Making queries and being informative are both essential to make the most out of your job shadowing experience.
- Before showing up at the location, get ready with a list of sensible questions related to the organization, career and business operations to be clarified from the host.
- Pen down or even better, try to record the information provided by your host. You can also list out your observations and ideas to share at the end of the session.
For the Host
Following are some tips for the host to provide a seamless learning experience to the visitor:
- Keep in mind the purpose of the guest for which the job shadowing is arranged, to ensure maximum output.
- Inform your colleagues about the job shadowing so that they are prepared.
- Make a job shadowing schedule or timetable and send it to the visitor or guest.
- Take care of the visitor’s sitting arrangement in the relevant department.
- While carrying out job shadowing, take pause and allow the visitor to put up questions.
- Do clear out every query and appreciate the feedback or suggestions given by the guest.
- If you are postponing or aborting a session, inform the visitor about it along with the reason, through a formal notice.
Job shadowing is preferred in many organizations today, not only for the students but also for the prospective candidates who aim to make a career in a specific company.
Even the new hires are initially provided with the opportunity of job shadowing to better understand the company’s expectations and their capabilities.