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If your career is in need of some shaking up, use this technique to take a look at what works and what doesn’t.
If you’re feeling stuck career-wise and want to shake things up, running a personal SWOT analysis—the popular model used to analyze businesses—on yourself can help you figure out the next steps.
And, it’s a lot simpler to do than you might think. Read on to find out what personal SWOT analysis is all about, how to do it, and what you can learn about yourself in the process.
What’s a SWOT Analysis?
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
A SWOT analysis is basically an evaluation tool that can help users identify strengths and weaknesses to aid in growth, and identify areas where your competitors may have an upper hand. It’s common for businesses to perform SWOTs, but they work for individuals too. A personal SWOT analysis helps you uncover your potential. As such, you’ll need a fairly high level of emotional intelligence to do a SWOT analysis of yourself, primarily when you want to advance your career.
Personal SWOT Analysis Example
In order to define your strengths, take a look at the roles you’ve held in past and currently. Choose two or three quantifiable things that you accomplished. From there, you have to unpack that further and ask, “What did it take to achieve those things?” In other words, which specific skills and talents have you accumulated to achieve those outcomes?
Gathering information on yourself can be tricky, though. Try taking skills-assessment quizzes, which can help you self-identify. You can also ask your coworkers and supervisors what they think you’re good at—they might make you aware of traits that hadn’t crossed your mind.
If you’re been on an interview in the past 30 years, you’ve probably been asked about your weaknesses. The standard response is to say you’re a perfectionist, or that you work too hard, but hiring managers will see right through that, and if you’re being honest with yourself, you can probably come up with something more authentic SWOT weakness examples. Try thinking about a mistake you’ve made or a skill that you’re lacking, and what you did or are trying to do to correct it.
For example, it could be something simple like realizing that on most days, you arrived to work barely on time and exhausted and that it might be creating a negative perception of you. So you can make a commitment to get to bed earlier so you can have extra time in the morning and get to work refreshed and energized.
Another way to figure out your weaknesses is to dig back into past evaluations and feedback from co-workers, supervisors, and mentors. Perhaps you’ll discover a pattern of them telling you to be more assertive, or maybe your communication skills need some smoothing out. The most important thing is to be able to take an honest look at yourself and admit your shortcomings—everyone has something they can improve upon.
No matter how content you are in your current position, you should always be your own recruiter. Identify two or three aspects of a job opening that would make you pursue it.
Some things to think about include:
- What does your ideal employer look like?
- What does my next role look like?
- What attributes would I like to see from my leadership team and boss?
Once you have those answers, you might think about starting a job search or working with a recruiter in your niche who can keep an eye out for opportunities that match.
Other ways to identify opportunities require you to be proactive. Join networking groups, take some classes, and use additional resources to nudge you outside of your comfort zone. These strategies could enhance your professional development.
As an employee, you face all sorts of threats: the company downsizing, office politics, not enough work-life balance, not enough opportunities for growth, and being let go. Those are all very real. Outside of that, there is also an abundance of candidates you’d be competing with, so you’ve got to be your own advocate and build your brand should anything happen.
You can identify potential threats to your industry or role by researching trends, certifications, or skillsets that younger generations are starting to possess so you can keep up with the new competition.
Revisit Your Personal SWOT Analysis Every Quarter
Taking the time to reflect and keep yourself marketable is a smart career move, so if a recruiter does call you out of the blue, you have current info to rely on and present (and impress them with).
Using a SWOT analysis is an extremely useful tool when it comes to identifying personal and professional goals. Putting aside time to do a SWOT analysis requires you to pause and consider where you are in your career, and ways that you can grow.
Now that you have a pretty good grasp on what sets you apart, things you can work on, what your ideal role looks like, and some of the factors that might threaten your career advancement, it’s time to put that knowledge to good use. This is where the real work begins—figuring out what to do with that information.
But self-awareness can go a long way. Once you know the things you do well, you can do more of that. Knowing your shortcomings means you can figure out ways to close the gap, whether it’s taking a class or changing up your processes.
Take advantage of resources at your current disposal. Consider approaching your boss and working out a plan that could involve job shadowing, mentorship, or additional feedback to help you improve.