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Job Shadowing – Top 20 Advantages and Disadvantages


What is Job Shadowing?

The term ‘Job Shadowing’ refers to the concept where an individual gains certain experience which helps in the development of the career of an individual of their own choosing.

The individual learns or gains experience as they work with a person or employee as they go alongside that professional by which they gain their knowledge in that particular field.

Job shadowing program is normally on a temporary basis and firms have been using this as a great means of learning since a long time.

Job Shadowing Advantages Disadvantages

Job Shadowing for Career Advancement:

In this competitive market, getting a job you desire is a very tough task. Moreover, you not only need to be qualified to get one but should also possess few extra skills that make you stand out.

The game doesn’t end even if you have acquired a job which you like. Making your unique mark as important and vital in any company is not that easy. You need to complete all your duties responsibilities and tasks assigned given to you, on time. The first step that helps you do so is the training that the organizations provide you.

A new technique which the employers have designed for new joinees is known as job shadowing. Job shadowing is a kind of on the training method especially for freshers, which help them understand and gain knowledge by the coaching provided to an employee working in the organization. This is a very helpful process for both the company and the employee.

Here the employee will be able to get an idea about the job role and the company will be able to assess the ability of the candidate for the particular job.

How You Can Start Job Shadowing?

Though job shadowing is not a new topic, there are only few people who are using it to their benefit. It is very evident to use this process in an proper way or else it will turn out to be ineffective.

Here are a few tips that help you start a job shadowing process,

  • Taking the help of the alumni association for approaching people
  • Applying for a job shadowing position in the organization
  • Convincing the employers to allow job shadowing
  • Contacting the hiring managers ask for job shadowing process

Types of Job Shadowing:

Job shadowing is used by many industries and in various sectors nowadays like

  1. Financial Corporation
  2. Technology
  3. Legal firms
  4. Manufacturing
  5. Banking
  6. Medical institutions, etc.

The process of job shadowing should be proceeded as per the industry or company niche. Though this process is for speeding up the new joinees, the right type of approach is important. Here are the 2 types of job approaching process

1. Observation
2. Hands-On

As Job shadowing is the initial stage in the development of an individual in the particular field of their choice, at first there are many pros or advantages of job shadowing which benefits the individual in their development to a great extent at their learning process. But with the advantages, there are always disadvantages or cons which arise alongside it.

Advantages or Benefits of Job Shadowing Cons or Disadvantages of Job Shadowing
Employer’s Behaviour Lack in identifying
Work Environment Long Working Hours
Knowing the thought process Workplace setup
Mode of interaction Prior Education
Unnecessary things Clashing Schedules
Open ended Study Language Pattern
Observations regarding Future Lack of Motivation
First Hand Information Stress
Making Profiles Lack of Comfort
More open nature Lack in sharing information
WordPress Table

Advantages or Benefits of Job Shadowing:

1. Employer’s Behavior:

As we know that when a person needs to gain experience and knowledge regarding a job, the person works alongside a professional employer.

By doing this, the observer or intern gets to know how the employer behaves in his working hours, how he can solve any problems that come across it, how many breaks he takes during his work to reduce stress if any etc.

The observer understands and comes to know in the future how he should act when he is a professional helping in his overall development.

2. Work Environment:

When the person is job shadowing towards the work, they know that while observing there is a presence and personal touch and interaction towards the workplace. Thus, being in contact with the employer’s behaviour as well as the workplace, the observer comes to know how the working environment is functioning with respect to the professional. And also what kind of effects are shown by the employer while working in the workplace.

3. Knowing the thought process:

When the professional has been practising the job or has been working in the workplace since a long time, they have adequate knowledge regarding the work being carried out by them. So the thought process which is also known as a ‘mental model’ regarding thoughts about the job and using it practically in life is learnt by the observer.

By understating the thought process of the job in the present and future, the observer shapes up the workplace behaviour which helps in tackling and solving problems.

4. Mode of interaction:

In any job, there is always communication between two or more people who can provide assistance or help to their peer in improving the quality of their work. For this, they use a certain program by which they can interact with one another.

This helps the observer in understanding what kind of interface they would have to use if they have to interact with one another in the future to solve if any problem arises in their workplace.

5. Unnecessary things:

At a workplace, there are always certain things which are most valuable for the individual while some are unnecessary and are not required by the professional in carrying out their work.

By job shadowing, the observer understands and identifies what has really needed in the workplace and things which are unnecessary and not essential for any individual who is practising the work which helps in organizing the workplace and carrying out things smoothly.

6. Open ended Study:

The professionals always require certain needs or things on a daily basis which helps in carrying out their work appropriately. So when knowing about the job shadowing in the workplace the observer’s learning process is always broad and open ended.

With this, as the process is broad in nature, there is a better understanding and scope towards learning the needs of the professional at a greater and broader depth.

7. Observations regarding Future:

When the observer is working alongside the professional every day, the observer is noting down certain observations which are made at all levels. These observations come towards helping the observer in understanding what can help at the current stage or what can be helpful in the future. This helps him in understanding as well as predicting the future behavioural patterns of the workplace.

8. First-Hand Information:

When the observer works alongside the professional, the process of gaining knowledge is continuously happening.

One of the main advantages that it is continuous in nature would be a presence and first-hand information or knowledge provided to the observer, regarding the workplace of the professional.

It is far better than other methods where the personal touch of  workplace is not available or by getting knowledge with middlemen or third parties involved.

9. Making Profiles:

When the observer physically starts a job in the field after his job shadowing is over, at first he will need to have created a specific job profile which describes them at their best.

So, the time that they had spent while job shadowing helps them in creating an appropriate job profile about them and also helps in adding certain events or scenarios appropriately which will fit into the schedule of the person.

10. More open nature:

When the time of the observer comes to an end for his job shadowing process they have learnt and gained all the necessary information along with understanding all the possible behavioural patterns of the professional.

The observer then will have a more open attitude towards any other professional and his needs on a daily basis which helps him in his ongoing development process.

Now as there are a number of advantages benefiting an individual while job shadowing, there are also certain disadvantages which they have to keep in mind. Let us look at some of them in detail.

Cons or Disadvantages of Job Shadowing :

1. Lack in identifying:

At the moment, the observer is new to the workplace and has very limited or at times no knowledge regarding the working of the job or the professional and his behavioural pattern.

So at that moment what are the crucial necessities and needs of the professional are not identified by the observer and hence there is a lack and delay in the development process at the initial stage itself for the observer.

2. Long Working Hours:

At the initial stages as the behaviour and working of the job is unknown to the observer, they need to obtain and gain the information as quickly as they can.

So the observer needs to put in a long number of work hours in gaining and understanding the information and behavioural as well as working pattern of the professional so that he is updated on a daily basis with the ongoing work in the firm currently being job shadowed.

3. Workplace setup:

The current setup of the workplace is very limited in nature as there are a number of limitations. The observer at the initial stage needs to gain information about the working pattern at a faster rate where long working hours needs to be put in by him.

But with the setup of the workplace being limited in nature, it is very difficult or cannot keep the observer in the workplace for long working hours than the observer expects.

4. Prior Education:

Before the observer wants to pursue and learn about a specific job, they need to have been educated or have certain initial required knowledge as to the working and habits about the professional they wish to work with.

If there is a failure in doing so, they lack behind in the ongoing events and changes going on in the workplace which would be a major disadvantage for them at this stage as it would also show a lack of interest towards the job by them.

5. Clashing Schedules:

The daily schedule of the individual or observer is very different in comparison to a schedule of a professional which is unique. So these schedules need to be organized so that there is no problem with the working of the two.

But if this is not done and the schedules are not matched then this could lead to chaos in the workplace where things cannot be done in the appropriate way. This would also lead to disrupting in communication and behaviour between the professional and the observer.

6. Language Pattern:

Language is one of the most important things which can help in speeding and improving the working manner between people. The observer who wishes to learn needs to have the knowledge or should share the same language as the professional as it is beneficial for both of them.

If the languages of both the professional and the observer are different, then it will cause a large number of problems in the workplace in doing and helping out in the job and will delay the progress of the observer and delay in the work of the professional.

7. Lack of Motivation:

As it is known, for any individual to achieve success in any career of their choice, motivation is always essential towards getting that success. If a person is less motivated in the job they are practising, it will show and emit a very bad effect on the professional they are learning from, which will be bad for the observer as they could lose on important details regarding the workplace. This could cause a problem and delay in their ongoing study which will be bad for them in the future.

8. Stress:

Stress is one of the problems which will always arise in any workplace. But for a person who is job shadowing the stress will be effectively more as the observer is not knowledgeable at the moment and might find it difficult to deal with the stress coming to them at that moment.

This could, in turn, change the behaviour of the observer in the workplace which may lead to a number of misunderstandings in the workplace between the professional and the observer.

9. Lack of Comfort:

When the professional or user is practising their work alone, they are in their comfort zone at the moment and are always used to working in that way. But when an individual wishes to come and learn, the professional has to get out of their comfort zone which may be very difficult for them as there is a sudden change in the work environment.

With the presence of an individual along with them, he may not be entirely comfortable in carrying out the work in the presence of the observer.

10. Lack in sharing information:

The professional would also find it very difficult in sharing all the information he has been collecting to the newly introduced observer.

The professional would think that the observer has bad intentions on receiving the information and would be difficult to trust the individual who is newly working with the user.

So this would cause a delay and at times even stop in developing and improving the knowledge of the observer who is a rookie at the moment and wants to continue learning new things as the days go by alongside the professional.

How to Make The Most Out of Job Shadowing?

To get the most of the Job shadowing process, there are few things that need to be done. Job shadowing is not an economic benefit to the company, moreover, you need to invest a lot of time and effort to make it successful. Companies allow this just because they could get a right employee who could turn out to be an asset to their organization and work for their business growth and development.

Things to do While Shadowing:

  1. Make Sure you Dress for Success
  2. Be Open-minded
  3. Being Punctual
  4. Effective communication
  5. Show Eagerness
  6. Must be able to read all Formal Documents
  7. Ask for Feedback

Examples of Job Shadowing:

Example 1 – Aspiring Chefs

“If you are aware of TV show like Hell’s Kitchen or Masterchef, you may be familiar with how tough and competitive the cooking profession can be. It is not simply going to the kitchen and cooking. You have to work with other chefs, plan the menu, set the decoration of the restaurant to match your cooking style, and various other things that can be quite daunting to many aspiring chefs. Something that many people do is shadow a head chef they admire and want to work under.

In doing so, they work as sous chefs, chefs who serve as assistants to the main chef, and learn how things work in the kitchen and improve their own cooking technique. Rather than taking the observation route of shadowing, sous chefs must take the hands-on approach to job shadowing, witnessing how their senior, experienced chefs in the kitchen do things. Afterwards, they implement their own skills and incorporate the things they have learnt from others. They receive feedback from their head chef consistently so that they can improve in the future.”

Example 2 – Hopeful Bankers

A sector that has come under scrutiny in recent years is the financial sector, namely banks and other financial institutions. Many banks now have job shadowing opportunities where prospective bankers work under the wing of an experienced banker, teller, or financial consultant and see how they get their work done.

Many young, aspiring bankers here observe how the experienced bankers deal with financial statements and make complex calculations. They also take notice of the manner in which they communicate with clients, big and small. Bankers need to be able to communicate very effectively so seeing how they talk on the phone or how to talk to someone in-person teaches them what it takes to be a successful banker and bring in more clients.

Examples source: cleverism


Now as we have seen that when a person wishes to learn and gain knowledge regarding a field of their interest, gaining it by job shadowing and working with a highly regarded and qualified professional is a very good way. But the individual needs to be determined before getting into a job shadowing if it is to their particular field of interest.

The above article discussed several job shadowing ideas, advantages and disadvantages of job shadowing. So from a learning perspective, it is one of the best ways to help in the development and improvement of an individual and on the individual’s part helps them train themselves and keep them ready for any future happenings which may come in front of them.