How To Do Your Own SWOT Analysis
Businesses often use SWOT analyses to plan strategy and growth by identifying their Strengths and Weaknesses from within and Opportunities and Threats from the outside world. It's not only businesses that can benefit from this approach, however. Anyone at any stage of their career can benefit from conducting a personal SWOT analysis - it's a great opportunity for self-reflection and to take stock of your situation with a critical eye.
First think about your Strengths; positive things about you that are under your control and which you can use to your advantage. Ask yourself:
- What do you do well? (personal strengths as well as skills)
- What unique resources can you draw on? (e.g. strong technical knowledge or good networking contacts)
- What do others see as your strengths?
Bear in mind that strengths are contextual. if you're a strong copywriter working in a marketing agency surrounded by people with similar skills, or are applying for a position in a similar situation, copywriting is more of a necessity than a strength. Try to think of achievements or qualities unique to you that you can draw upon to give yourself an edge over other candidiates.
Think about your Weaknesses; negative things that are under your control and that you plan to improve. Ask yourself:
- What could you improve? (e.g. unclear goals or poor self-knowledge)
- Where do you have fewer resources than others? (eg lack of work experience)
- What are others likely to see as weaknesses?
It can be uncomfortable delving into your personal weaknesses, but it's important to be aware of what you need to improve in order to advance your career in the direction you want. Self-awareness is critical to a successful job search. Think back to times you haven't performed as well as you would have liked at work, or areas where you are out-performed by your colleagues, and identify what skill or quality you need to develope in order to rectify the situation.
What are the Opportunities in the job market; i.e. positive external conditions that you do not control but could use to your advantage?
- What opportunities are open to you? (e.g. gaining more qualifications, harnessing new technologies, and so on)
- What trends could you take advantage of? (e.g. growth in a sector of interest)
- How can you turn your strengths into opportunities? (e.g. through effective job search or filling skills gaps in your organisation)
An opportunity, in this context, doesn't have to be something that's happening immediately. It could be a long-term trend that you've identified that you want to take advantage of by harnessing your strengths or working on your weaknesses. Try thinking about skill areas your company lacks and how you may be able to fill them.
Finally, identify Threats; the negative external conditions that you do not control but the effect of which you may be able to mitigate:
- What threats could harm you? (e.g. downsizing in your field, automation, and so on)
- What is your competition doing? (do they have more relevant skills or knowledge than you?)
- What threats do your weaknesses expose you to?
A threat is anything that might knock you off-course; whether that's through redundancy, a lack of advancement, or anything in between. Once you identify these threats you can start working towards mitigating them. For example, if your job is at a high risk of automation you can start to develop skills that are less likely to be made obsolete.
A SWOT analysis can be a challenging experience and requires a great deal of self-reflection, but at the end you'll have a comprehensive map of where you need to focus your efforts to ensure your career continues on a positive trajectory. If you have any questions or would like to chat to a consultant about your career just get in touch or drop off your CV.