When you have limited work experience in an industry you’d like to break into, job shadowing can be an excellent way to gain familiarity with the work itself and add a notable credential to your resume.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at job shadowing, discuss some of the main benefits (especially when listing it on your resume), and then get into some methods and examples of including job shadowing on your resume.
What is shadowing?
While being a shadow may evoke images of following someone a little too closely, the meaning in the workforce is a lot less creepy. Job shadowing is a fundamental method of getting on-the-job training for new hires, and for those who are curious about a field, taking time to job shadow can be invaluable in providing hands-on experience.
Being a shadow on the job means your role is mostly observational as you follow a more experienced worker and get a feel for what they do. As a shadow, you may do some direct tasks or training, depending on the circumstance.
Job shadowing is a requirement for some university programs and internships. For students in general - including high school students - being a shadow can be a great way to explore potential careers.
Shadowing is different from having an unpaid internship as unpaid interns are generally expected to perform tasks and duties in the position while shadows are much more observational in nature.
Why include shadowing on your resume?
It shows you have a practical understanding of the role
Adding shadowing to your resume is particularly helpful in showing that you understand the responsibilities and requirements of a position. It also signifies to hiring managers that you have done due diligence in determining if the field is right for you.
It helps you get past ATS and resume screeners
Shadowing is primarily helpful to list for two types of job seekers: those who are new to the workforce in general, and those who are new to a field (consider checking out our career change checklist if this describes you).
If you're changing careers, your experience might not come across as a good fit for the new role, particularly to resume screeners — or applicant tracking systems — that are looking to see if you have specific skill sets required for the job. Including your shadowing experience gives you an opportunity to include skills and keywords that these ATS are looking for.
It shows your proactivity
Including it on your resume shows that you are willing to learn and work from the ground up, and that you have sufficient passion for the work itself (always helpful to employers looking to improve retention).
How to list shadowing on your resume
Follow these steps to include shadowing on your resume:
- Think about what your shadowing entailed.
- Write down resume bullet points to describe your shadowing experience. Examples are shown later in this article.
- Make sure your bullet points start with an action verb that highlights your shadowing experience — Observed, Attended, or Shadowed are good action verbs.
- Be specific about what you did in your shadowing experience.
- Look at the job description you're applying to. Try to include core keywords from the job description into your bullet points. See relevant skills and keywords to your job here.
- If your shadowing experience is substantial, include the bullet points in your work experience section. Otherwise, include it in an 'Additional' section or 'Other Experience' section, or include it as an Internship sections.
Generally, there are two places you should list shadowing on your resume. Before we get into specifics, you may find it helpful to have a look at our proven one-page example resumes from different industries to see the recommended resume format in full.
In your work experience section
Let's start with three great examples of including shadowing in your work experience, and then dive into how to do this in your own resume.
Resume Worded Investment Bank
January — April 2021
- Shadowed marketing director Adam Bland to observe operations of 100+ employee communications firm.
- Attended weekly meetings to gain insight into company objectives and current marketing campaigns
- Brainstormed new slogans as part of complete brand redesign
- Observed NewTech campaign from initial pitch to final execution
Resume Worded Delicious Bagels
Kitchen Assistant (Job Shadow)
June — August 2021
- Shadowed Chef Lisa Turtle to observe breakfast, lunch and dinner preparations at casual dining restaurant
- Attended morning briefings to gain insight into kitchen operations and health & safety procedures
- Assisted in cleaning kitchen and preparing 10+ fresh ingredients daily
- Key achievement: Presented new seasonal filled bagel recipe that sold out over 3 weeks and was added to the permanent menu due to positive customer feedback and demand
Resume Worded Book Store
Sales Manager (Job Shadow)
May — June 2020
- Observed Sales Manager Jeff Wiggum for 3 weeks in day-to-day activities for weekday and weekend manager shifts on retail floor
- Gained hands-on experience in providing customer satisfaction by resolving six assigned escalated customer complaints
- Attended morning meetings with sales team to gain insights as to employee goals and challenges
To include your job shadowing experience in your work experience section, you should list the job as you normally would (see above) - including the name of the employer, the dates you shadowed, and the job title you shadowed under (though you should indicate your role as a shadow if needed).
Underneath the first two lines, list three to four accomplishments. There’s no need to overinflate these - they can be as simple as saying you “observed”, “attended”, or “assisted” a senior worker, as the examples below demonstrate. (Note that you shouldn’t claim credit for doing anything you simply watched another person do.)
In the additional or other section
For those who have more relevant work experience to add in the body of their resume but who still want to include their time as a shadow, the additional or other section is the place to put it.
You can do so like this:
Upstart Enterprises, San Francisco CA
May 2019 — July 2019
- Shadowed Finance Manager Les Billem to observe operations of multinational office with 300+ employees
- Recorded and distributed budget meeting minutes to 50+ employee email list
- Attended training event on data analysis and financial trends
Benefits of shadowing
It helps you figure out if you're interested in the role
The biggest benefit for shadowers is being able to experience a day in the life of someone in an industry you’re interested in. There’s no better way to decide if you’d like to commit to something than to follow the workday of a professional in the field.
A key factor to pay attention to when shadowing is to evaluate if your skillset is compatible (or can become compatible after training, if necessary) with the work involved. The results may surprise you. For example, if you aren’t great at math but decide to try shadowing an accountant, you might find enjoyment in the work due to its black and white objectivity (and how software handles most of the math). The rapid changes in many industries due to technology is the one of the things that makes shadowing so important.
Find out if the role aligns with your schedule
Another factor to be mindful of when shadowing to help determine if the job is a fit for you is to see if it works with your daily schedule and work life balance. If you find that you get home too late to spend time with your children each day, that could be a significant point to consider.
Lastly, shadowing lets you make a short term commitment that could lead to lasting contacts in the industry of your choice.
Other points to keep in mind
If you do have significant enough experience in the position you’re applying to, it isn’t necessary to include job shadowing in your resume. If you update your resume regularly, you may find it naturally migrates to the bottom of the page and then falls off entirely as you gain more work experience.
Additionally, if your job shadowing was part of a more traditional internship, or even on the job training, there is no need to include it.
Finally, once your resume is completed, consider running it through our free Score My Resume tool to receive fast, AI-powered feedback on points that could be improved. Both tools can help your resume make a solid first impression with hiring managers.