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Personal SWOT Analysis to Assess and

Improve Yourself
23 July 2014Nishadha

Personal SWOT analysis is a great tool to assess yourself in order to plan your career. As
Confucius once said, “Do a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in
your life“. The tricky part is finding job you love that matches your skill set and of
course pay well. This is where a personal SWOT analysis comes in handy.

 What is SWOT analysis


 How to do a personal SWOT analysis
 Blank personal SWOT analysis template
 When to do a personal SWOT analysis
 SWOT analysis for a career switch

What is a SWOT analysis ?

If you’re familiar with SWOT you can skip this section, but if you’re unfamiliar with it
SWOT stands for

 Strengths
 Weaknesses
 Opportunities
 Threats

You can use it to assess yourself, compare yourself against your peers/competitors and
also use it to find career growth opportunities. Check out SWOT Analysis: What, Why
and How for a detailed overview.

How to do a personal SWOT analysis


How SWOT contributes to the dream job

List down the “strengths”

The first step is to list down your strengths. Knowing these will help you to be more
confident in an interview or when looking for a job promotion. Because you have listed
down things beforehand you’ll have an easier time recalling things as well. Here are few
questions to ask yourself when filling this part.

 What are the professional qualifications/certifications you have that makes you
stand out from the rest ?
 Can your expertise in some area make a difference to the organization ?
 What projects/campaigns have you completed successfully ?
 Do you have powerful industry contacts ? Especially useful in areas like
advertising, marketing and insurance.
 What other skills makes you stand out from the rest ? For examples things like
leadership and dedication to work.
 What do others think as your strengths ?

Important: The “stand out from the rest” part is very important in SWOT. For example
in a software company having a degree in software engineering is not a strength, because
everyone else have one. A masters in mathematics might be a different story.

Know your “weaknesses”

The second step is to identify your weaknesses. As I mentioned before SWOT is used by
individuals to assess and improved themselves. Identifying weaknesses is the best way to
improve them.

This also helps you to be prepared to answer or counter them if they come up during an
interview or performance review. Ask yourself these questions when filling this.

 Do you have the necessary skills/qualifications to be successful in your current or


future roles ?
 Do you have bad habits ? For example frequently getting late, poor
communication skills, indifferent time reporting etc.
 What other traits can you improve to be more efficient ?
 What do others think as your weaknesses ? Even if you don’t consider it as a
weakness.

Important: Be honest and realistic when answering the questions. It’s after all a self
assessment which only you will see. Use it as a stepping stone for future improvements.

Find matching “opportunities”

We often miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work – Thomas
A. Edison

Opportunities comes in different shapes and forms. Sometime opportunities past by you
without you even noticing them. So here are few things to be on the lookout for.

 Is there any significant changes/advancements in your industry that you can take
advantage of ?
 Is there a new technology or industry trend that you can make use of in the
future ?
 Is a new position advertised in your company that matches your skill set ? Or did
a position became vacant ?
 Is there a new project in your organization that you can can join which will
benefit your career
 Can acquiring new skills give you a competitive advantage ? For example in the
airline industry knowing another language to your mother tongue is an advantage.

The list of questions can go on and on. The most important thing it to be one the lookout
for opportunities.

Important: Its great if an opportunity matches your strengths. But sometimes great
opportunities arise in areas that doesn’t match your skill set. Do consider the pros and
cons before disregarding them.

Be aware of “threats”

When doing a personal SWOT analysis you need to thing of yourself as Ia company or a
product and asses yourself against others. This way it makes it easy for you to identify
threats. So here’s how to identify threats.

 Is one of your peers doing a better job than you in a similar role ? Are both of you
fighting for the same promotion ?
 Is popularity of new technologies or demise of old technologies threatening your
career ? For example it is common for software engineers careers to become stale
because they didn’t spend the time to learn the latest technologies.
 Are your personal traits hurting your career advancements ?
 What are the obstacles that prevent your from achieving your targets ? Could be at
work or in your persona lives.

Identify the threats and try to eliminate the ones you can.

Important: When it comes to eliminating threats one of the easiest to fix are negative
personal traits. Get professional help if necessary. For example if time management is an
issue you can hire a productivity coach.

Blank Personal SWOT Analysis Template

Now you know how to do it, it’s time to create your own personal SWOT analysis
diagram. If you prefer to create it online ( so you can access it anytime, anywhere ) just
click on the following blank SWOT template. It will open in a new window inside our
diagram editor.
Blank SWOT template for self assessment

If you prefer to print it out and then do the analysis you can download it as a ready to
print PDF as well.

Personal SWOT Analysis Template ( PDF )

Or you can make use of our professional designed SWOT analysis templates.

When to do a personal SWOT analysis ?

It is a self assessment, so anytime is a good time. But there are few specific instances
where it can really benefit you.
 When going to an interview – So you can focus on your strengths and talk about
them more. It will help in preparing the CV as well. If you have a very good idea
about the job requirements beforehand you can modify the CV to match them as
well. Remember that recruiters spend on average 6 seconds to decide whether you
fit in or not.
 When applying for a promotion – helps you to assess yourself against other
candidates. You’ll have a good understanding of your strengths against your
competitors so you can focus on them rather than your general strengths.
 Before a career switch – helps you to figure out whether your skills match the
opportunities in your new career or whether they are much suited for your current
job.

Using a personal SWOT analysis for a career switch

I’ll take myself as an example. Before I moved marketing I worked as a software


engineer for 7 years. I didn’t hate the job, but I wasn’t in love with it either. And I was
doing more and more online marketing stuff during my free time. After a while I assessed
my skills, realized I had enough skills to succeed in marketing and moved to a full time
marketing role. Here’s how the SWOT would look like during that time.
Assessing strengths and matching them to opportunities

In my case the differences were somewhat obvious because I was switching to a


completely different field. But in some cases the pros and cons are not that obvious.

For example if you’re a senior software engineer in a software company you might have
to make a decision about taking the management path or the technical path. Do you want
that coveted tech lead positions that everyone is competing for or do you want a
managerial position with all its responsibilities. Listing things down and doing a detailed
SWOT analysis will help you make a better decision.

I hope I’ve addressed all your concerns regarding a personal SWOT analysis. If you have
any questions or suggestions don’t hesitate to mention them in the comments. You’re
feedback is what keeps us going . And keep us in mind whenever you need a SWOT
analysis software.

Using a SWOT Analysis in Your Career Planning


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by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., and Katharine Hansen, Ph.D.

A key tool in the strategic planning process can also be applied to career planning. This
tool is a marketing analysis using the SWOT technique.

A SWOT analysis focuses on the internal and external environments, examining


strengths and weaknesses in the internal environment and opportunities
and threats in the external environment.

Imagine your SWOT analysis to be structured like the table below:

Career SWOT Analysis for Job-Seekers

I
N
T
E
R
N Your Your
A Strengths Weaknesses
L
E
X
T
E
R
N Opportunities Threats
A in Your Career Field in Your Career Field
L

To construct your own SWOT analysis to set a course for your career planning, examine
your current situation. What are your strengths and weaknesses? How can you capitalize
on your strengths and overcome your weaknesses? What are the external opportunities
and threats in your chosen career field?

Strengths Weaknesses

Internal positive aspects that are under Internal negative aspects that are under
control and upon which you may your control and that you may plan to
capitalize in planning improve

Work Experience Lack of Work Experience

Education, including value-added Low GPA, wrong major


features
I
Lack of goals, lack of self-knowledge,
Strong technical knowledge within your lack of specific job knowledge
field (e.g. hardware, software,
programming languages) Weak technical knowledge
N
Specific transferable skills (e.g., Weak skills (leadership, interpersonal,
communication, teamwork, communication, teamwork)
leadership skills

Weak job-hunting skills


T Personal characteristics (e.g., strong
work ethic, self-discipline, ability to
work under pressure, creativity, Negative personal characteristics (e.g.,
optimism, or a high level of energy poor work ethic, lack of discipline,
lack of motivation, indecisiveness,
shyness, too emotional
E Good contacts/successful networking

Interaction with professional


R
organizations

Opportunities Threats

Positive external conditions that you do Negative external conditions that you do
not control but of which you can plan to not control but the effect of which you
take advantage may be able to lessen

Positive trends in your field that will Negative trends in your field that
create more jobs (e.g., growth, diminish jobs (downsizing,
globalization, technological obsolescence)
advances)
Competition from your cohort of college
Opportunities you could have in the field graduates
E by enhancing your education
Competitors with superior skills,
Field is particularly in need of your set of experience, knowledge
skills
Competitors with better job-hunting skills
X Opportunities you could have through than you
greater self-knowledge, more
specific job goals Competitors who went to schools with
better reputations.
Opportunities for advancement in your
T field Obstacles in your way (e.g., lack of the
advanced education/training you
Opportunities for professional need to take advantage of
development in your field opportunities)
E
Career path you've chosen provides Limited advancement in your field,
unique opportunities advancement is cut-throat and
competitive
Geography
R Limited professional development in
Strong network your field, so it's hard to stay
marketable

 Companies are not hiring people with


N
your major/degree

To further refine your list of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, you may
also want to ask yourself some critical questions adapted in part from an article by Dave
Jensen, managing director of Search Masters International.

Explore your own self-perception of your strengths, but also put yourself inside a
prospective employer's head as you consider your strong points. Avoid false modesty, but
also be brutally honest and realistic with yourself. Start out by simply making a list of
words that describe you; chances are many of these characteristics comprise your
strengths.

One of your greatest strengths can be loving the work you do. Learning to "follow your
bliss" should be a critical component of managing your career. Some people know from
an early age what kind of work will make them happy. For others, nailing down the self-
knowledge that leads to career fulfillment comes from a process of exploring interests,
skills, personality, learning style, and values. Take a look at some career assessment and
exploration tools, such as those described in Career Assessment Tools and Tests. Take one
or more of the tests and react to the results. Do the results match your general plans and
expectations?

In assessing your weaknesses, think about what prospective employers might consider to
be the areas you could improve upon. Facing your frailties now can give you a huge head
start in career planning.

As humans, we find it relatively difficult to identify the areas where we are weak. But
this assessment helps to identify areas where we may need to improve. If you identify a
skill that you know is in your chosen field, but you are weak in that skill area, you need
to take steps to improve that skill. Past performance appraisals and even your grades and
teacher comments from school provide valuable feedback.

For a good collection of sites on the Internet that enable you to research the trends that
will tell you more about external opportunities and threats in your chosen field, go to
Career Exploration Resources. It's also helpful to visit online databases (often available
through library Web sites), such as ABI/INFORM, Business News Bank, and Lexis/Nexis
and conduct a search of "hiring trends in ______" or "employment trends in ______,"
filling in the blank with your career field.

Don't forget print resources, such as newspapers, periodicals, and trade publications.
Check out job postings on the Internet to get a feel for the relative number of openings in
your field. If you are a college student, check out your school's Career Services office for
information on file on opportunities and threats in your field.

From this analysis, you will have a road map that shows you how to capitalize on your
strengths and minimize or eliminate your weaknesses. You should then use this map to
take advantage of opportunities and avoid or lessen threats.

After you've analyzed your strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities, you should
use that information to plan how to market yourself.

The marketing planning process entails a three-step process:

1. Determining Objectives
2. Developing Marketing Strategies
3. Strategizing an Action Program

Objectives

Define your career objectives. What is your ideal job upon graduation (or the job you
would like to transition to from your current job)? What are some other positions you
could accept? What is your five-year career goal?
Marketing Strategies

A broad marketing strategy or "game plan" for attaining your objectives. What are the
companies and organizations you're going to target to obtain your objectives -- your ideal
job? How will you communicate with these firms? The strategies you identify should
utilize all of the resources available to you, such as your personal network and a
partnership with a mentor.

Action Programs

According to marketing principles, marketing strategies should be turned into specific


action programs that answer a number of questions, including: What will be done? When
will it be done? Who is responsible for doing it? Your key task here is setting specific
timetables and deadlines for getting the career and company information you identified in
the marketing strategy step.

For further guidance, see the sample SWOT Analysis.

Analyze Your Career with a Personal SWOT


By Ian Christie, Monster Contributing Writer

Want a fresh way to size up the state of your career? How about taking a page from the
business-school playbook and running a SWOT analysis? SWOT, which stands for
strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, is a simple yet powerful model MBA
students use to analyze the strategic positions of companies, products or business
situations. But you don't need to be an MBA to apply the SWOT technique to your own
career planning.

How to Create a SWOT Analysis

The model is a basic two-by-two table, with strengths and weaknesses laid out in the top
two boxes and opportunities and threats in the bottom two. You've probably considered
your strengths and weaknesses already, but the SWOT model takes it a step further by
making you think about the external factors that bear heavily on the health and direction
of your career. These factors -- mainly physical location, industry, company and
profession -- signal potential opportunities and threats. Looking at the quadrants together
can be a creative way to think about where you are in your career and the directions you
could take.
To get an idea of what you could incorporate into your own SWOT chart, look at some
examples in each category:

Strengths

Strengths are your internal, positive attributes and selling points. You have some control
over these. Examples include:

 Positive personal traits.


 Relevant skills, competencies, knowledge and work experience.
 A solid education.
 A strong network.
 Commitment, enthusiasm and passion for your field.

Weaknesses

Weaknesses are your internal negative attributes. You have some control over these as
well. Examples include:

 Negative personal characteristics and poor work habits.


 A lack of work experience or relevant experience.
 A lack of education.
 No network or a small one.
 A lack of career direction or focus.
 Weak professional or career-management skills.

Opportunities

Opportunities are uncontrollable external events that you can potentially leverage.
Examples include:

 Favorable industry trends.


 A booming economy.
 A specific job opening.
 An upcoming company project.
 Emerging demand for a new skill or expertise.
 Use of a new technology.
 Referral to a high-powered contact.

Threats

Threats are uncontrollable external factors that may work against you and require you to
take protective action. Examples include:

 Industry restructuring and consolidation.


 Changing market requirements and their impact on your employer.
 Changing professional standards that you don't meet.
 Reduced demand for one of your skills.
 Evolving technologies you're unprepared for.
 The emergence of a competitor, either to your company or to you personally.
 A company decision maker who does not like or support you.

An external factor can sometimes be both a threat and an opportunity. For example, the
emergence of a programming language that replaces one you know is a threat if you do
nothing about it and an opportunity if you commit to becoming one of the early experts.

Do Your Own SWOT Analysis

1. Draw a two-by-two grid on a sheet of paper, or create one in a word-processing


program.

2. In each quadrant, write out ideas in bullet-point form. Be as specific as possible.

3. Stretch to come up with true insights. Take a break if you have to, and revisit your
analysis when you're fresh. You can even show your SWOT to a few close contacts to get
their views.

4. Edit. Delete repetitive ideas, and sharpen less specific ones.

5. Analyze what it all means. Use the tool to:

 Validate your current position.


 Understand the skills, attributes and experiences you should emphasize and the
ones you should downplay.
 Brainstorm possible career directions.
 Highlight opportunities to take advantage of.
 Flag possible threats.

6. Determine possible actions. There are four types of actions you could take:

 Strengthening a specific skill or adding something to your strengths quadrant.


 Minimizing or eliminating a weakness.
 Pursuing or exploiting an opportunity.
 Protecting yourself from threats.

Revisit and update your SWOT chart periodically to add a level of sophistication and
effectiveness to your career planning.

[Ian Christie founded BoldCareer.com to help individuals build bold, fulfilling careers
and help organizations attract, develop and retain talent. A career coach, consultant, three-
time entrepreneur, former senior director at Monster and former retained executive search
consultant, Ian is an expert in the fields of careers and recruitment. He believes that
career management is a central theme to both personal and organizational effectiveness.
BoldCareer.com offers career services to companies and individuals as well as free career
resources.]

Articles in This Feature:


 Get Ahead in Your Career This Year home
 Four Ways to Make Job Resolutions Work
 Kick Your Career into Gear
 Take Charge of Your Own Career Planning
 10 Reasons to Invest in Your Career
 Analyze Your Career with a Personal SWOT
 Make the Most of Key Career Moments
 Your ROI for Career Moves
 Do-It-Yourself Coaching

Take Your Personal SWOT Analysis: Know Yourself to Sell


Yourself

Human Resources Expert, Kim Giangrande SPHR, GPHR, of Intuitive HR, created the
following SWOT Analysis just for RESET members. Take some time to carefully work
through the following — it is a critical component of your Reset Toolkit!

When things get bad in the movies they always call in the SWAT team. It stands for
Special Weapons and Tactics. Well, to be unemployed in this market requires special
weapons and tactics too. In this case our weapons are the things we bring to the table that
employers will want. Our tactics are the things we will do to stand apart in this sea of
candidates to ensure we end up on top. In business many companies use a SWOT
analysis. In this case it stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
This type of simple analysis structure give you the guidance to look at both internal and
external factors that will create or jeopardize our success.

Well, it is time to take your search seriously and create your own Personal SWOT
analysis. Before you contemplate investing the time in doing this analysis first be sure
you are ready to be honest with yourself, truly honest. When we first lose a job we spin
many stories of why that is. It is very easy to identify what was wrong with the company,
the job, the boss and the co-workers. Now, its time to look inside and identify and accept
what your own contributions are. No one is perfect, we all have things we are great or
pretty terrible at. This tool is for you, so be honest. What is the worst that can happen?
You make positive changes that lead to a new opportunity?
Lets start with the easy part, our strengths. It is best to break this into two categories.
First is Job Factors. These are the things that you do in your role; your skills and
abilities. The second category is Competencies. These are qualities or characteristics
that are important for the role; your behaviors and style.

When you look at Job Factors create a list of questions that make sense for your role.
Start with some basic things and break them down a bit.

 What are you great at? When you reflect on your career and all of the work you
have done. What are the things you know you are really good at. Why are you
great at this? Do you think you are better than your competition? Why? Are there
other things outside of this particular role, certain skills you have mastered that
could help you with a new role?
 What do others say you are great at? Even trivial things that you don’t think will
matter should be noted here. Perhaps others note how organized you are or how
well you write. While these might be skills you don’t consider your strengths, if
others noticed them they just may be strengths.
 List your experience. This tool is for you so list everything. I often meet students
that leave out things they have done on summer internships only to discover that
they have experience with supervising, managing finances or developed ideas for
that employer that helped improve the organization. Others leave out volunteer
work because it was unpaid. That is downright silly. I work with some intense
not for profit organizations that could give any major corporation a run for its
money; put it on the list. Everything you have done is part of your story. The key
is learning how to market that story to make things truly relevant.
 Credentials: List education, training classes, courses, certifications, awards,
achievements, memberships…you get the point
 Now do the same for your Competencies. Why do people like working with
you? What makes you good at what you do? Are you a good listener, strong
leader, dependable. Think about what makes you, you. What makes you unique?
Now for the fun stuff. This is the time for some genuine soul searching. Remember, this
analysis is for you. It is important pre-work for your job search. This first step to
recovery is to admit you have a problem. This is true of our weaknesses too. Even if you
think it is a habit you can’t change, list it. For example, I am a talker. I know it. I often
remember after the fact that I need to shut up! It is important for me to list this, and
know this if I am job searching because I need to balance this with being a listener.
Reminding myself of this before and during important meetings is crucial to my success.
Not knowing your weaknesses, is a weakness. Not admitting your weaknesses is a
weakness. Identifying and acknowledging your weaknesses is a step toward self
awareness. People who are self-aware are much more enjoyable to be with. They likely
have a much better chance of achieving success too. If you want to be able to sell your
story, you need the whole story.

Again, you will start with Job Factors and then move on to Competencies.

 What do you struggle with? Are their tasks that you don’t perform well or areas
you received criticism about? What do your past reviews say?
 Do you lack experience, credentials or skills? What are they? Why is this a
weakness?
 Why do people get frustrated with you? What are the things you get in trouble
for?
 What do you struggle with? When do you struggle? Why do you struggle?
The world is your Oyster. What you want is in your reach if you are willing to do the
work to get there. There are many opportunities to consider during your search. Each of
these could offer you stepping stones to the next thing. Every step along the way is a step
closer to happiness; so keep stepping.

 Networking: What are your networking opportunities. Where can you meet
people that can help you advance in your career? Do you know how to network
effectively? There is an art to doing this well. Learn it.
 Take Classes: I have met professionals that don’t seek credentials or certifications
unless their employer will pay for it. Take your future in your own hands and
figure out how to get the credentials you need. The Department of Labor offers
money to qualified people who are looking for work. There are many other
outplacement services that provide classes. Research and find them.
 Volunteer: I have heard many unemployed people say they won’t volunteer
because they need to get paid. Well, employers like to hire people who are
working. While that might not seem fair, it is what it is. Volunteer work is work.
It is experience, it creates references and it feels good.
 Consulting: Is this an option for you? Do you have former bosses or colleagues
that need project support? Can you take on a few projects while you search?
 Job Postings: Find the job posting sites that are right for your career path. Be
creative. Only apply for jobs you are genuinely qualified for.
 Social Networking: Let Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn be tools in your search.
Be sure to have well updated profiles and look for opportunities regularly because
new things are added everyday.
 Market Trends: Are there new things happening in the world that might be well
suited for you? Many people leave their jobs and start entirely new paths based
on new trends. Examples are selling energy or green initiatives. My husband left
his corporate job and decided he preferred landscaping and plowing and the life
that offers him. He makes a bit less money but he is so much happier. We all are.
Threats are the things that are getting in your way of achieving your goals.

Threats and fears can sometimes be synonymous. In this section, capture both. What are
your perceived threats and what are you afraid of. Before I began consulting, I was
paralyzed by the fear of doing it for about 2 years. Initially, it caused me to take another
full time job. My threat was my fear. Once I finally got over my fears I found my path to
a much happier and lucrative life.
 Competition: What are you up against? What do the people competing with you
have that you don’t?
 Resume: Is it ready? Will it work for you? Does it stand out and truly define who
you are and what you have done? Does it highlight your achievements and show
your strengths? Does it align with the job? Do you have variations for different
roles?
 Job Market: What is the market in your area like? Are there other locations that
would be better for you based on your expertise?
 Money: Do you have resources to support you during your search. Can you
generate some income during this time to alleviate the pressure? Needing money
is a threat in your search for several reasons. First, this fear may subconsciously
impact your interview skills and decisions. Trying to find part-time, per-diem or
contract work to supplement may help. Take what you can get until you find what
you want. However, if you don’t have to, don’t settle. Another reason this can be
a challenge is you may need to incur some expenses to be effective in your
interviews.
 Interview Skills: Are you prepared? Do you know how to shine in this session?
If not, can you seek help?
 Image: In the job market you need to be at your best and that includes looking
your best. Is your image helping or hurting? Take time to take care of yourself.