Job shadowing isn't just for high school or college students. It can be a great idea for adult job seekers, too. Job shadowing can help you if you are transitioning to a new career or if you are re-entering the job market after an absence. Here's why:
- Job shadowing lets you dip your toes in the water to see if you're really interested. You might think you want a particular job, but once you try it, you may not like the day-to-day tasks of it. If you've been absent for a while, there may be some changes you need to know about. On the day of your shadow, ask questions about the job, what the person likes and dislikes about it, what's a good career path look like, and what you need to do to get your foot in the door.
- Job shadowing can boost your network. As you go through the shadow, your mentor for the day will introduce you to people in the field. Contact them later to say how nice it was to meet them, and you may be able to set up times to speak with them further.
- Job shadowing gives you critical keywords for your resume. When you include your experience on your resume, you'll have the buzz words that HR's computer systems are looking for when they scan for interview possibilities. Your job shadow will also show 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. In the interview, your job shadowing experience will give you substantial points to talk about. You'll have a better understanding of a typical day on the job, as well as challenges and issues. You'll speak more intelligently about what you can bring to the table and why they should hire you. It will also be a big help in creating your 30/60/90-day plan--a must do for any interview, but especially when transitioning or re-entering careers.
Seriously consider a job shadowing experience. Most people will be flattered that you asked, and will be more than willing to help. On the day of, treat them to lunch or coffee as a thank you. 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.