SWOT analysis is a tool that helps you identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It’s a great way to think about where you are now and where you want to be.
Strengths are the positive forces that can help you achieve goals. Weaknesses hold you back from achieving goals. Opportunities can improve your situation. Threats are factors that could negatively affect your business or career prospects.
Your SWOT analysis should be based on facts rather than opinions or emotions if you want it to be helpful as a decision-making tool. Here’s how:
- Look at yourself objectively – This means being honest about what works well for you and what doesn’t work so well for you in terms of personal qualities, relationships, and professional experience. If a colleague says something positive about your work but doesn’t match how you feel about it personally, don’t accept it as truth because it makes everyone feel good! Instead, try asking yourself why they would say this about your work? What makes their opinion different than yours?
- Be specific. Be clear about what you’re good at and what you need to work on. Don’t use vague terms such as “good” or “bad.”
- Go beyond your resume. Your resume is a snapshot of where you’ve been but not necessarily where you’re going. Include other relevant information that might help do a SWOT analysis, such as past performance evaluations or feedback from supervisors, coworkers or customers.
- Keep it simple. Avoid getting bogged down by too many details; keep things simple by focusing on only four categories: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT).
S (Strengths) – These are your positive attributes, what you are good at
Strength is a positive attribute that makes you more capable of achieving goals. It is an internal quality that cannot be taken away from you. When we think about our strengths, we can see that they are not things we can easily change or improve. Strength is inherent in us, and it often comes naturally to us.
For example, if you are good at public speaking or communicating with people, this is considered a strength. If you enjoy working with numbers and data, you may have strong analytical skills that could be applied to different jobs. If you have strong writing skills, this could be another of your strengths that could be utilised in many areas of life and not just in business or the workplace. Here is how you should analyse your strengths:
- Write down all the things you are good at or have an aptitude for. If you have trouble identifying them, ask friends or family members who know you well to list the strengths they see in you.
- Ask yourself why these strengths matter to you and others – what do they help you achieve? They might relate directly to your career goals, or they might be less obvious but still significant – for example, if you’re good at helping people solve problems, this could be a strength that allows your career in many different ways (for example, by making it easier for clients to trust and work with you).
- Think about whether other qualities accompany these strengths (e.g., being flexible or organised) and whether these could also be useful in career planning scenarios.
- Identify any weaknesses or limitations related to these strengths (e.g., lack of attention to detail) and think about how this may affect your ability to use them effectively in certain situations (e.g., missing vital information during meetings with clients).
W (Weaknesses) – These are the aspects of your life that aren’t working, what you need to work on and get better at
Next, list your weaknesses and possible solutions or ways to overcome them. These things make it difficult for you to perform at peak levels or things that prevent you from doing your best work consistently. No one is perfect 🙂
Weaknesses can be a big part of your career SWOT analysis. A weakness is something you are not good at or need to improve on.
- Here are some examples of weaknesses:
- I am poor at public speaking.
- I have a hard time managing my time effectively.
- I get stressed out quickly and have trouble relaxing.
- My biggest weakness is procrastination, and I need to learn how to manage it better.
What are your weaknesses?
It’s essential, to be honest with yourself, but don’t beat yourself up. Everyone has their share of flaws and shortcomings, so try not to get too down on yourself.
What areas do you want to improve in your life?
Think about what areas of your life you would like to improve upon. Are there things you know you could do better but haven’t had the time or motivation to work on? Perhaps it’s a specific skill set or area of knowledge that you lack. Or maybe it’s just something bothering you, but you haven’t figured out how to fix it yet?
What are some things that bother you about your current job?
List them all down, and analyse why they bother you. Is it something to do with the task or role or something missing in your capabilities?
O (Opportunities) – These are the opportunities that are available to you, what you can do and where you can go
Opportunities are the areas that are open to you. These are the available opportunities to you, what you can do and where you can go. Here is how you should analyse your opportunities on the SWOT for your career planning.
You need to understand what opportunities are available in the market for your skillset and experience. You should also know about the various companies or organisations hiring people with your skill set. This will help you find out how to approach them for a job.
To analyse this section properly, you need to know what skillsets and experience are required in different jobs and industries. You can start by checking job descriptions online or talking with recruiters who work in those industries. This will help you identify which skillsets and experiences will most benefit you when looking for new jobs.
Your opportunities can be increased by:
- Positive changes in your career environment
- Positive changes in yourself (education, training, experience)
- Positive changes in your environment (friends, family, company)
You should list all the available opportunities, what you can do, and where you can go. For each option, think about the following:
- The thing that is possible for you to do
- The skills, knowledge and experience required for doing the task
- The assets that will help you perform well in this situation
- The barriers that may prevent you from doing it (e.g., lack of resources)
T (Threats) – These are issues that could affect your goals and plans negatively
Threats are issues that could affect your goals and plans negatively.
Threats can be internal or external. Internal threats are within your control, while external threats are outside your control.
Internal Threats – These threats are within your control and can be fixed by you. For example, if you fear public speaking or have a phobia of snakes, these can be tackled by you with proper guidance and practice.
External Threats – These threats are outside your control, but they can still negatively affect you. For example, if an economic recession in your country affects the demand for your services, this would be an external threat that you cannot do anything about.
If there are any threats listed under this section, try solving them first before proceeding with SWOT analysis for career planning
- The market is saturated with competitors, and there is no scope for growth in this field
- There are very few jobs available in this field due to the recession
- The job market is unstable, and people may lose their jobs due to the downsizing or closure of companies
Career planning using SWOT – an example
While this example is simplified (you should ideally have a list of each SWOT parameter), it will explain how things can be approached.
I have a bachelor’s degree in computer science. I am very confident in my ability to write code and design software. I’m also good at project management to move up the career ladder.
I have not had much experience working with people. I have always been more comfortable working alone than in groups or teams. I am not comfortable working with people from other nationalities and shy away from discussing business topics that are not technology related.
Many new tools and technologies are emerging every day that could be used to improve how we do things at work. Analytics, cloud computing, AI, and machine learning, each an area that I have skills in, could open new doors. These new tools and technologies could allow me to improve my skills and become more valuable to the company.
The biggest threat for me is that I may not be able to keep up with all of the changes happening around me at work. If I cannot keep up, it might affect my job performance and make it harder for me to get promoted or move into another position within the company. Technology is changing rapidly, and I cannot depend on my current skill-set to last me for even the next decade; and must constantly upgrade.
Conclusion – SWOT can be a helpful starting point for career analysis and planning
SWOT Analysis is a great tool to help you understand yourself, your career and your future. It’s also a great way to assess your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
SWOT Analysis will help you identify your top talents and skills and the areas that could be improved upon to achieve your goals.
Look at this tool from another perspective: What do you want out of life? What do you want to do with your life? How do you want others to perceive you? These questions will help you determine your priorities to be incorporated into your SWOT analysis.