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After the Job-Shadowing Experience
Be sure to write a thank-you note to the person you shadowed. Again, he or she made a significant time and energy investment in you, and it's just common courtesy to say thanks.
You will certainly want to reflect on the shadowing experience, and you may want to do so in a guided or formal way. If you've gone through a school or other organization to arrange your job-shadow experience, see if there is a formal process or form to use for your reflections. A job-shadowing guide from the state of Wisconsin contains such a form (in .pdf).
One of the most creative uses of the job-shadow experience comes from the world of informational interviewing. The scenario goes like this: At the early stages of job-hunting when you're trying to determine which companies to target, you do some job-shadowing at several companies. Then six months later or so, as you're applying to your target companies -- including some where you job-shadowed -- mention some of your observations about the companies in your cover letters. Job-seekers who demonstrate company knowledge almost always have an edge, and this technique can be especially effective if your observations and questions have uncovered an employer need that you can fill. Explain in your cover letter how you can solve a problem you observed or meet a need you saw, and you will have a huge advantage toward getting an interview with the company. Be sure to put a positive spin on the problem or need you observed; if you bash the company while trying to show why you should be hired, your efforts will have the opposite effect.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker's Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
Katharine Hansen, Credentialed Career Master (CCM), is a former speechwriter and college instructor who provides content for Quintessential Careers, edits QuintZine, an electronic newsletter for jobseekers, and prepares job-search correspondence as chief writer for Quintessential Resumes and Cover Letters. She is author of Dynamic Cover Letter for New Graduates; A Foot in the Door: Networking Your Way into the Hidden Job Market; and, with Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., Dynamic Cover Letters and Write Your Way to a Higher GPA, all published by Ten Speed Press. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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