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Your Personal Audit: SWOT analysis

Your personal audit – SWOT analysis

You may have performed a SWOT analysis at a previous job but have you ever applied it to yourself? A SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunity, threat) analysis is a technique used to assess how a company is functioning in order to develop a strategy of improvement.  Why not apply it to yourself as you move forward on your career journey? 

A personal SWOT analysis can work wonders for you as you pursue new career goals. By offering insight into the many internal aspects of yourself as well as external factors, a SWOT matrix lays out all the elements that will positively and negatively affect your journey.  You can assess what are the items you need to change, what obstacles you may face, and what skills and advantages will benefit you. Being able to see all of the internal and external factors that affect your progress helps you get closer to your goals.

How to Use it

Spend time with the following matrix (printable copy) and brainstorm everything that falls under each category. As you examine each section ask yourself probing questions and offer honest answers.  Only you have to see the results here.  Reach out to friends, managers, coworkers and get their feedback. 

The first two sections – strengths and weaknesses – are the internal factors of the analysis. Imagine you are describing yourself to someone. You might include the activities you enjoy, your skills and education, and your personality traits. Now reflect on past job experiences and list the tasks you performed well and what differentiated you from other coworkers. Consider the aspects that felt more challenging or responsibilities you tried to avoid.   For example, if you are organized but not keen on public speaking, put it in the respective boxes. 

The next two sections – opportunities and threats – are the external factors.  What is outside of you that may affect your career for the better or worse. An extensive personal network is a great opportunity; whereas a slow job market presents an obstacle so put that in the threat box.  (A sample SWOT is included at the end).

Ask yourself the following questions:

Strengths

  • What are your natural skills and abilities?
  • What are your learned skills?
  • What is your experience and education?
  • What are the skills you have but have not used in awhile?
  • What your other talents, hobbies, or interests?
  • What are the things that make you unique?
  • What is are your positive personality traits?
  • What are your best achievements?

Weaknesses

  • What tasks do not come easily?
  • What do you find challenging?
  • What are your bad habits? 
  • What do you avoid doing?  
  • What education, experience, and skills do you feel are missing?  
  • What do you not enjoy doing?
  • What do you consider negative personality traits? 

For the external factors, consider the following and decide if they are an Opportunity or a Threat

  • Your network size
  • Current state of the economy and job market
  • Strength of your field/industry 
  • Changes in field/industry 
  • Time availability 
  • Family responsibilities 
  • Competition 

What to do with It

Turn this insight into action. 

Once you have all the data points about yourself on paper, you have to make it work for you.  Draw connections between each area and notice any patterns. For example, your strength is your likability and your opportunity is your extensive network.  Capitalize on that. On the flip side, your outgoing nature is a strength but your small network is a threat. Use your innate skills as a people person and turn that threat into an opportunity by building your professional network.  On the other hand, if you notice that a weakness is lack of experience and a threat is your changing field then evaluate what kind of experience or training you may need. 

Create a list of goals and measurable tasks to move forward.  Establish ways to capitalize on your strengths and opportunities and a plan to improve your weaknesses and work around obstacles.  Your personal SWOT Analysis is a great tool to plan out your overall career strategy.