Job Shadowing: Definition, Benefits and Purpose.  

Job shadowing
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You have an eye on a career or a job, but you are not sure if it is the right one for you. Job shadowing allows you to experience a glimpse of your dream career. Before participating in job shadowing, you might want to know a little about it. In this article, we discussed the advantages and disadvantages of job shadowing, questions to ask during job shadowing, and virtual job shadowing.

Shadowing often involves keeping close track of a target, or group of targets, by visual and technical means and job shadowing is no different.

What is Job Shadowing?

Job shadowing involves observing a professional as they work to better understand a particular career. The purpose of job shadowing is to have an in-depth understanding of a job. It gives you a glimpse of what a career would be like. A description of job shadowing shows in the medical field, where you can shadow a surgeon performing an operation. Job shadowing is important for people like

  • Students who are taking an intern
  • Applicant trying to secure a job

During job shadowing, there are activities that you can do which include:

  • Observe company staff meetings.
  • Assist with office errands or projects.
  • Conduct informational interviews of both professional and administrative staff.
  • Observe client interactions
  • Observe the functions and duties of a particular career.
  • Tour the facilities.
  • Examine the organization’s mission/vision statement and organizational charts
  • Understand office policies and procedures
  • Review current trends in the profession
  • Explore potential career paths within the organization and the profession
  • Meet with key players of the organization.

Steps to Follow on Job Shadow

You are to find the perfect career you would do and you are to make a decision. Currently, there are a lot of occupations that could fit in depending on your personality, skills, and so on. Once you decide on the career you would like to study, you can know more about it by doing a job shadow. 

#1. Conduct a Research

So the first is conducting research perhaps you have a company in mind to do your job shadow or a specific person you would like to shadow. You can start by studying the possibilities for instance the qualification of the company if the person in question is available for it. aAk your teacher or academic advisor for any person you can shadow. You can contact the company and ask if there are any opportunities, you can like to do these a few weeks before the allocated time to avoid disruption of any kind.

#2. How to Inform them

When you have the person you want to shadow or a company, you might want to do a job shadow. You can contact them through email, websites, or direct contact. You can even try visiting and asking them in person. Once you have come into contact, briefly tell them your details, like what school you attend, where you are from, your reason for shadowing, and so on. Keep it simple and professional. 

#3. The Shadowing Experience

You might like to make an appointment with the professional and discuss the schedule and find which fits in. Your appearance matters no matter what, so when you shadow a person, dress professionally. The shadowing experience may take a few hours a day, weeks, or months, depending on what you and the shadower have decided. Bring the necessary items you will need to observe, like a notebook and a pen. Hopefully, it will be an interactive section where you can learn fascinating and new things and your career.

#4. After job shadow

Arrange a thank you note and give it to the person and be grateful for their effort and time in helping you learn about your career. You could also write your experience and what you have learned and how it has motivated and inspired you. 

Job shadowing can be done in any industry including:

  1. Financial Corporation
  2. Technology
  3. Legal firms
  4. Manufacturing
  5. Banking
  6. Medical institutions, etc.


Just like job shadowing, virtual job shadowing involves watching an expert during their job, but only in a different way. Virtual job shadowing is related to job shadowing. This allows you to shadow or observe someone in their workplace using an online connection. According to the expert what we watch affect our thinking ability

There are two ways to describe virtual job shadowing. You can access virtual job shadowing with an online connection.

This involves connecting with a professional in your field using video conferencing. In this way, you can observe them throughout the day even though you aren’t in the same room. Find out more about connecting with professionals here.

Typically, this involves telecommunication and provides an opportunity for minimal questions and answers. It gives you the chance to understand what you are learning.

Another way you can access virtual job shadowing is by watching videos related to your career. Although you won’t be shadowing the professionals directly doing their duty, a pre-recorded video of them performing their duties and responsibilities will be available.

One disadvantage the video approach portrays is the unavailability of engagement with the person you are watching as this lack the opportunity to ask questions and receive answers. But it can still be of value if your main aim of viewing it is fulfilled.

So what significant role does virtual job shadowing play, Is it of any use since it comes with drawbacks?

The Purpose of Virtual Job Shadowing

Due to COVID-19, there was a need to make everything digital, and that became a necessity for many companies. Almost every process that could be done online moved to digital platforms, primarily for reasons of safety. As a result, the virtual job shadowing experience grew in popularity.

Some businesses or professionals may be unwilling to accept in-person visits until the pandemic subsides.

Furthermore, many professionals work from home. They are unlikely to invite you into their homes to observe them at work. It’s virtual or bust in that case.

So, virtual job shadowing is probably here to stay, which is a good thing. By going online, you may be able to learn about positions that aren’t available in your area. Furthermore, you can continue to learn new skills and expand your network, both of which may benefit your future job searches.

Preparing for a virtual job shadow is also fairly straightforward. You should spend some time preparing your technology, just as you would for a video interview. After all, you don’t want faulty video or audio to keep you from fully enjoying the experience.

Coordination of the job shadow schedule, familiarization with the person and role, and preparation of a few questions in advance are also recommended. And if you’re going to be photographed, dress appropriately. If in doubt, choose high-quality interview attire.

Make sure you have a way to take notes as well. You can record details about your experience, jot down questions as they arise, and so on.

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During job shadowing, it is important to ask questions to be able to comprehend what you are observing. Here we mention a few questions that you can when job shadowing:

#1. You can ask questions during job shadowing about the company.

  • Why do you love working in this company
  • How is the organization’s culture like
  • Does the company pay well
  • What is your favorite area in the company and why?
  • What is your least favorite place and why?
  • What makes this company unique?
  • How do they hire new candidates for a position?
  • What goals does the company want to achieve
  • Are the employees and managers interactive

#2. Questions about their role

  • Do you travel often because of your role
  • How are you able to together with your team
  • What advice would you give me if I found myself in your role
  • Is your role stressful
  • What did you study to get this role
  • How much time do you spend in the office on a daily basis
  • How do you manage your personal life and work life

#3. Question about a career?

  • What inspired you to take this career
  • Do you love your career and why?
  • Why did you choose this career?
  • What am I to study school if I want to be like you
  • What skill am I to learn if I want to excel in this career?
  • What change do you see in this career in 5-15 years’ time?

Tips: If you are shadowing someone with the intent of understanding the process of the job then it is best to listen well, look attentively and ask questions but keep any criticism or suggestions to yourself. It is possible your idea has the potential but you should wait till after shadowing the person.


While a job shadow is the right thing to do, there are some drawbacks. Here we explain the advantages and disadvantages of job shadowing:

The Advantages of Job Shadowing

These are the advantages of job shadowing that will convince you that you are going down the right path.

#1. On-the-job experience

People use the job shadow program to gain experience and learn more about a job or a career. Job shadowing involves you working alongside a professional. The observer gets to know more about a job, he watches how the professional work during work hours.

#2. Connection

By doing a job shadow, you get to meet a lot of people who are experienced in your career. When you spend time with a professional in your field, you get to know them well it is why it is important to take notes, ask questions, and start a reasonable discussion with them. Then you can even ask them for a letter of recommendation.

#3. You can get a reliable feedback

You will have the opportunity to get reliable feedback as you might overhear other employees complaining or praising the job setting and company. An angle you could never get from the company website, interview, or HR.

Disadvantages of Job Shadowing

Having considered the advantages of job shadowing, it’s time to take a look at its disadvantages. The following are the major disadvantages of job shadowing

#1. It is not a job experience

In as much as job shadowing is on-the-job training, it is not the same as job experience. While it is helpful in introducing new skills, it is not the same as working in that role.

#2. You don’t know the type of day

Depending if it could be a busy day or a less busy day, it may involve a more typical task or an emergency. Something can happen that may affect your experience.

#3. Limited Q&A

The time might not be enough to ask a lot of questions as the person might be busy with their work and it would distract them, So the best advice is to go straight to the point and don’t beat around the bush and ask crucial questions that are related to your career.


The essence of job shadowing is to encourage and motivate students. No career is too easy or too hard, but every occupation requires diligence and commitment to achieve an aim. During video conferencing, ensure there is a stable internet connection to avoid any disruptions. When asking questions, ensure to keep them professional and job-related. Furthermore, job shadowing is a wonderful experience when you have a passion for the career, and if you are not able to make up your mind about your career, then consult an academic advisor to put you through. The advantages and disadvantages of job shadowing can vary according to factors.

You can ask questions during virtual job shadowing. Before the job shadowing experience, you should prepare all the necessary items you will need to record details about your experience. Every sector allows job shadowing including financial institutions, technology, banking, medicine, and so on. Remember to enjoy your experience.


What is the purpose of shadowing?

Shadowing involves observing a person at work. It gives us working experience for a particular job or career.

What is a job shadow site?

A job shadow site is a platform that you can use to shadow a person at work.

Do you get paid to job shadow?

No, you are not going to work during a job shadow, so there is no payment. But during internship interns are paid.

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