SWOT Analysis is a key tool businesses use when performing strategic planning, assisting them in developing their strategy and future direction. From a business perspective, the real advantage of performing a SWOT analysis is that it helps discover new opportunities which actually play to the businesses’ strengths.
In the same way that businesses use SWOT analysis to determine their future course, a personal SWOT analysis can be performed as a career development exercise. The advantage of a personal SWOT analysis is that it allows us to identify new career opportunities we wouldn’t otherwise have discovered. It also allows us to see these opportunities in light of our strengths and weaknesses, so that we can pick the opportunity that is right for us, whilst taking action to limit any potential problems.
SWOT is an acronym representing Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Strengths and weaknesses are internal characteristics which are personal to you, whereas opportunities and threats are external factors relating to your working environment and industry. You will typically see a SWOT matrix drawn as follows:
To assist you in creating your own personal SWOT assessment, below you’ll find some useful questions to ask yourself to help you complete each section of the matrix. When answering these questions try to compare yourself to those people around you such as your collegues, rather than against people in general. This will make your answers more objective and applicable to your actual career.
This entire section could be summed up as keeping your eyes and ears open to what is going on around you, in your team, in your business, with your competitors, in other businesses, and in your industry, and constantly trying to find opportunities based on these observations.
Take the time to perform your own SWOT analysis. What opportunities might it unearth for you? Here is an example personal SWOT analysis for Winston, a fictional team leader.
Having performed his personal SWOT analysis, Winston decides to pitch to senior management that he should be sent to the overseas division to resolve their processes, as this is what he’s good at and he already has experience of their culture, so has a good chance of making progress where others have failed. To Winston’s surprise, senior management agree to send him to the overseas division for 12 weeks to fix their processes. Senior management had been aware of the problems overseas, but had not yet identified a solution. They can see that Winston would be a good fit, and are delighted he has offered to try solve this difficult problem for them.
Businesses perform SWOT analysis as part of strategic planning, but they can also be performed as a career development exercise. A personal SWOT analysis allows us to find opportunities that we would not have discovered otherwise. By performing a personal SWOT analysis regularly we can find ideas to move our career forward even though it appears we’re stuck in a rut. A regular personal SWOT analysis also allows us to keep our weaknesses and threats in check.
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