A job shadow is the process of learning a role by interacting with the person completing the job on a day to day basis. Job shadows are usually unpaid.

The following are 5 things to consider when preparing for a job shadow:

  • Research the role
  • Remove any distractions
  • Be on Time
  • Make Notes
  • Ask questions

Let’s take a closer look at each of these.

Research the role

This is applicable more so in situations where the person receiving job shadowing is not employed with the organisation.

Since you are aware of the company where you will be doing your job shadow, research the company in detail.

Review the company’s website, press releases and social media pages to understand more about the company. This will enable you to create questions tailored to the company and possibly the role.

If you are aware of the name of the person conducting the job shadow, research the person on LinkedIn to understand his/her professional background.

YouTube is a good source to check if any influencer has produced a day in the life video. Even though the insight may be small, it is worth the fore knowledge.

If you are already employed with the organisation, still do your homework. Try to glean as much as you can beforehand of what function that individual performs.

Remove any distractions

Remember to remove anything that could take your focus away from what is being communicated. Mobile phones can usually be a form of distraction. Ensure that they are silenced prior to the meeting.

Be on time

Be punctual for your job shadow. The trainer is already sacrificing time to complete the job shadow.

This may mean that he/ she requires additional hours to ensure that regular responsibilities are completed. Being on time will show that you honour the individual in that regard.

Make Notes

Walk with material to make notes of the session. If the person performing the job shadow is happy to audio record the meeting, then this could be a great option.  T

here is only so much notes that you can take at a session. With an audio of the meeting, you can replay this several times thereafter.

Ask Questions

Asking a number of questions can demonstrate that you are interested in what the person stated.


Companies usually conduct job shadows for 3 main reasons. These are:

  • Cross training
  • Training
  • Job orientation

Cross training

Businesses frequently cross train their employees both intra-department and inter-department as these makes the operations more robust.

Circumstances such as vacation cover, maternity leave, sick leave and all other forms of leave are part of the day to day operations.

Without job shadows, the business operations could drastically slow down during the absence of team member.


A student may be given the opportunity to shadow one or more employees in a business as part of the knowledge and skill transfer.

Job shadowing can be beneficial in career planning. An intern can get a feel as to what a role is like in real life. This opportunity can also be used as a resume builder as a student will have little or no work experience.

Job orientation

Job shadows can be part of an orientation process. A new hire gets to sit with a colleague to learn the requirements of a job that he/ she is expected to complete.

If you found this article valuable, you may also enjoy the articles entitled How To Develop Skills At Work and A Comprehensive Guide To Informational Interviewing. Feel free to click on the previous links to explore.

Final Thoughts

Job shadows can be valuable to students during career planning to understand more about a role. A seasoned professional can acquire more knowledge through job shadows which can lead to career growth.

With the internet, job shadows can be completed virtually. You can also complete your own career exploration by looking at day in the life of videos on platforms like YouTube.

Hope the pointers above prepare your to maximize your next job shadow. If you found this article helpful, I will be grateful if you can share it and leave a comment. For access to our free resource library with career templates, guides and checklists, click HERE to fill in the form. Thank you in advance for your support as I grow this blog.

How to Prepare For A Job Shadow

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