Shadowing is a valuable experience.
It offers many benefits and can be the deciding factor for many entry-level jobs.
However, it is often given a bad name, with many omitting it from their resume or just avoiding it altogether.
This reputation is undeserved, and the problem typically isn’t its inclusion but How it is included.
As a result, I will be highlighting the importance of shadowing and the right way to incorporate it into your resume.
Benefits Of Shadowing
As I touched upon, unpaid work like shadowing and work experience is often seen as fruitless and as an excuse for companies to get free labor.
While this can be true with unethical companies, this typically is not the case.
Any experience is usually a good starting point as it gets your foot in the door – not just with the company but the industry as a whole.
This is amplified with shadowing as you are usually assigned 1 or 2 mentors to focus your shadowing on.
Therefore you can ask them questions on a one-to-one basis, which can be more helpful than a general and overarching experience.
Also, they are more likely to recognize your face after spending more direct time with them.
You aren’t just acquainted with the company anymore but with a specific person who can testify to your attitude and work ethic.
Does it align?
It can be easy to confuse selling yourself with begging, especially if you have been job-searching for a while but remember, you have just as much to offer.
Source: Money Inc
This shouldn’t be you.
They may be offering you a job, but you are offering them your service, your ideas, and your time.
While it is essential to see if you fit the job’s criteria, you need to make sure the company’s values and methods fit yours.
This is another chance that shadowing gives you.
It allows you to see if a companies culture is right for you, and it’s ok if it isn’t.
There are different ways that companies can operate, and some are bound to resonate more with you than others, so explore and find the right ones.
How To Include
These are only a few of the benefits of shadowing, but as I said earlier, it is one thing to know them and another thing to deliver it well.
First and foremost, you should always focus on the skills it gave you.
You shouldn’t just say you ‘followed a receptionist who filed multiple documents,’ say you ‘learned different ways to sort data efficiently.’
The second version gives the phrase a more active element; you didn’t just gawk at people and papers all day.
You watched, you acquired, and (if appropriate) you applied.
Even if you didn’t apply, it still implies participation on your part rather than just passive existence or ‘running through the motions.’
Show don’t tell
Another tip is to be detailed.
This is unique for each industry, but including sector-specific terminology is another way of showing your potential employer that you’re knowledgeable.
For example, instead of saying you ‘learned the best ways to sift through dense information,’ someone in the law industry may say they ‘learned the best ways to sift through copyright history dating back 15 years.’
This is an example of showing, not telling, as you are condensing information instead of including a separate line saying that you learned about copyright laws.
Source: The Marketing Sage
However, it is possible to be too detailed, so be cautious about including too much information in one line.
Too many keywords back to back can become clunky and can also become jargon.
Apply and quantify
Another piece of advice is to try and apply it to your life and current skillset.
This can be done in sentences or list form (I recommend the latter as it tends to be more digestible and visually appealing).
An example would be saying you ‘learned the best ways to sift through copyright history dating back 15 years, therefore you can:
- Read x words per minute
- Write/type x words per minute
- Increased your day-to-day organizational skills’
It is universally agreed that quantifying your experience when possible is optimal for a resume as it helps the reader better visualize and understand what has been said.
You can use a range of numbers rather than a specific figure, as long as it isn’t too wide as it can start becoming unbelievable or suggest a lack of consistency.
Shadowing is way more than watching someone sit at a desk all day and fetching coffee.
A good shadowing experience should tell you about the company culture, the industry, and even yourself.
It should give you insight into how you work, whether you can improve it and what you desire in a work environment which is something people don’t always think about as much as they should.
Hopefully, this article has disproven the outdated idea of shadowing and showed you the best way to include it.
For more specific advice, don’t be afraid to contact us here!