Job Shadowing

Nick Staley
Have you ever wanted to give your potential employees the opportunity to actually see and experience the job they will be doing before they start? How about providing educational opportunities to students? Job shadowing is a great way to accomplish both. Read on to discover the ins and outs of creating and maintaining a job shadowing program.

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What Is Job Shadowing?

The essential idea behind job shadowing is taking someone who isn’t currently part of a particular role and allowing them to observe the inner workings of it.

How Does Job Shadowing Work?

Someone who isn’t familiar with a role spends time working with and observing someone who is proficient and currently works in the role.  Ideally, this is someone who has been in the role for a longer period of time and knows the ins and outs of the day-to-day operations within the company and the role itself.

Why Job Shadowing Can Be Beneficial for Your Organization

Job shadowing is a great option for companies looking to ensure that they are hiring the correct person. In a professional environment, shadowing can be used as an information-gathering experience. It can be used for people who are looking to gain additional insight into what the day-to-day looks like in a particular career or role.

There are many great benefits of job shadowing. Two of the most common uses are:

  • Pre-employment testing. If you want to see how proficient someone is within a role, it’s a great opportunity to ask them questions and see how they would handle particular situations.
  • Educational. If you work in a professional setting, you probably have people who are interested in knowing more about what you do—particularly high school or college students. You have the opportunity to let them live in your world for a while and let them learn as much as possible about the job they may be interested in.

What Are the Functions of Job Shadowing?

Job shadowing can play an important role in getting the correct candidate in the door for the role you are hiring for. It can also get people excited about a certain career path.

  • Provide an inside look at how the role works. You want your candidates to come into their new role knowing exactly what success looks like. Pair them up with someone who is highly proficient at their role and let them learn.
  • Build excitement for the career. We often hear about people choosing a particular career path because they were influenced by someone to go that route. Shadowing can create some buzz and excitement for students to move towards a particular career.
  • Use it as an onsite interview. Getting a candidate in on an onsite interview is a great way to evaluate their skill level at performing essential job functions. Are you interviewing an IT specialist?  Bring them onsite to assist with setting up a network.  Hiring an HR professional? Bring them onsite to assist in writing updated policies. It’s a great way to gauge actual skill level that you won’t get in an interview.

How to Set Up Job Shadowing At Your Workplace

You can easily set up job shadowing in your workplace in three simple steps.

Step 1: Build a List of Professionals in Your Organization Who Are Open to Being Shadowed

Make sure this list consists of people who are highly proficient and skilled in their roles. They also need to have some longevity with the company, and are preferably a team lead (or higher) who is involved in the hiring process.

Step 2:  Advertise!

You need to put you and your company out there.Your local college, university, or even high school will all have ways to advertise job shadowing for free. Utilize your network and get connected with people who are potentially interested in your field.

Step 3: Give It Structure

Now that you’ve got your list of professionals and have started advertising, you need to build your shadowing program. Start by making a list of things you believe people who are coming in to shadow would want to know. Have certain tasks planned that will be performed during the shadowing experience. You don’t want to wing it!

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Questions You’ve Asked Us About Job Shadowing

What are job-shadowing activities?
There are many different options. In a working interview, let them jump in and help you accomplish the job or walk you through how they would complete a task. Or you can simply let the shadow observe you and your role at the company for a period of time.
Does job shadowing mean that the shadow will get the job?
Not at all. Job shadowing simply means that you are giving the shadow the opportunity to view the job firsthand and get an inside look at the day-to-day operations of what the role actually looks like.
Nick Staley

Nick is a certified HR professional holding an SPHR and SHRM-CP. Nick has built HR teams from the ground up as well as worked for big corporations. Nick enjoys consulting and training those who are just getting started in HR. When not working, he enjoys spending time with his family.

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