Here's your new weapon for making a successful career change

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Job shadowing is an opportunity to learn about a different career path (Shutterstock.com)

The internet has undoubtedly allowed a new world of information to be accessible at the click of a button. But with even all its benefits, the internet cannot beat the wealth of experience you gain from learning about a career in person – the basis of job shadowing.   

So whether you’re trying to figure out which career path to take, don’t like your current job, are searching for a career mentor or are just plain curious about a different career option, here’s all you need to know about job shadowing.

Benefits of job shadowing

One misconception about job shadowing is that it’s mainly for students. This is because students are the ones carving out a new career path. While this is true, working professionals considering changing careers can also gain valuable experience. If you know you want to work in a different field but aren’t sure how to break into it, job shadowing can give you a taste of the industry. When you experience a workplace first-hand, you’re able to learn much more about the career and yourself.

Read: Why we all need a career coach

You can also learn more about companies when you can experience them in their element as opposed to researching them. For instance, job shadowing can reveal the day-to-day rhythms of a company’s culture to guide you in your decision about switching careers.

For example, do you prefer a laid back, roller-blade-your-way-through-the-corridor type of atmosphere? Or does the idea of a luxurious corner office with windows as high as the ceiling overlooking the city, sit better with you? No matter your preference, job shadowing will help you figure out these cultural differences.

By job shadowing, you can also get essential keywords which you’ll be able to use in your CV. Adding the experience you gained to your CV will also show hiring managers that you’re enthusiastic and willing to go the extra mile to for a successful career.  

So to make sure you get as much out of the experience as possible, keep these tips in mind:

  • Be in time and show the person you’re shadowing that you appreciate their time and the opportunity to learn.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions, but be careful not to ask so many questions that the person you’re shadowing can’t get their job done (don’t forget your notepad).
  • Be open to meeting other professionals in the company. If you’ve spotted or researched people in certain functions, ask for an introduction.
  • Pick up the communication channels in the workplace. Do the employees do most their communication via email, Skype or face-to-face?
  • Observe as much as you can;
  • Identify the tools that the professional must have in order to carry out his or her duties.
  • How much of the professional’s surroundings reflects his or her personality and how much of it is related to their job function?
  • How is the dress code like?
  • Do workers show signs of enjoying the work environment, or are they stressed and gloomy?

    After your job shadowing experience, make sure to send a thank you note to the professional you shadowed. Not only will it convey your appreciation for their time, but should you need to contact them again, they’ll be more open to assisting you.

    Job shadowing opportunities are a great way to tap into a new industry, and most people will be flattered that you asked. Before the shadowing, remember to do your research and be prepared with a list of questions you’d like answered.