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Are you looking to transition into a new career?  Whether you are being forced to move on because of the current economic situation, or whether you're one of the millions of adults switching careers just because you're ready for a change, consider job shadowing to give yourself a boost.

Job shadowing isn't just for students.  The reason it's so associated with students is because they're the biggest group of people setting out on a new path.  But just because you're an adult doesn't mean it's not a great idea for you, too.  Anyone trying something new needs a way to test the waters first, and job shadowing can do a whole lot more for you, too.

  • Job shadowing lets you try out a career for a day to see if you're really interested. You might like the idea of a job, but not like the day-to-day rhythms and challenges of it.  And liking a job's "typical day" is going to mean greater success for you down the road.  It's very important that you ask questions about the job, what the person likes and dislikes about it, what's a good career path look like, and what more you need to do to get your foot in the door.
  • Job shadowing is a great way to build your network in that area of the woods. You've just started with your mentor for the day.  But you're going to be asking questions, finding out who's who, and meeting people.
  • Job shadowing helps you get critical keywords for your resume. Sure, you're going to play up your transferable skills when you're angling for a new career area.  Along with that, you can use the job shadowing experience to give you the buzz words that HR's computer systems are looking for when they scan for interview possibilities.  Giving that experience a spot on your resume also shows that you're a person who's creative, enthusiastic, willing to learn, and willing to go the extra mile for success.
  • Job shadowing helps you have a better interview. If you get called in for the interview, your job shadowing experience is going to give you more "meat" to talk about.  You're going to have more understanding of a typical day on the job and what the challenges and issues will be.  That's going to help you speak more intelligently about what you can bring to the table, and why it's going to be a good idea to hire you.  It's also going to help tremendously in creating your 30/60/90-day plan--which is vital to your interview success when transitioning careers.

Seriously consider a job shadowing experience.  Most people will be flattered that you asked, and will be more than willing to help.  (It would be a nice gesture to treat them to lunch, though.)  Just remember to do your research first, come dressed for work with your list of questions ready to go, and be sure to send a thank you note later.