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How and Why You Should Use a Career SWOT Analysis

If you have taken a business course, you may remember the SWOT Analysis -- but to those new to the concept, let me explain what it is, why it is valuable, how to create your personal career SWOT Analysis, and how to then develop specific strategies to further your career. Also included at the end of the article are links to a SWOT Career Analysis Template and a SWOT Strategic Action Plan.

What is a SWOT Analysis?

It is a key strategic planning tool used to help organizations and people identify their strengths and weaknesses as well as threats and opportunities in the external environment.
  • Strengths: characteristics that give a business/person an advantage over others.
  • Weaknesses: characteristics of a business/person that are a disadvantage relative to others.
  • Opportunities: elements in the external environment that a business/person could exploit.
  • Threats: elements in the external environment that could be a hindrance/obstacle for a business/person.

Why is a SWOT Analysis Valuable?

When done correctly, a SWOT can showcase key strengths you bring to future employers, along with a list of future career opportunities -- and also show you your value on the job market. At the same time, the SWOT identifies weaknesses that should be addressed to help achieve future success, such as gaining additional education or skills, while examining potential threats or hinderances that may negatively affect your success.

How to Create a Personal Career SWOT Analysis

Use the descriptions and questions in the four major categories to develop your personal Career SWOT Analysis.

Job-Seeker Strengths

Explore your self-perception of your strengths, but also put yourself inside a prospective employer's brain 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. You might also consider asking yourself these questions:
  • What are my key skills and advantages?
  • What are my educational achievements?
  • What do I do well?
  • What are my most notable work accomplishments and achievements?
  • What are my most notable personal accomplishments and achievements?
  • What knowledge or expertise will I bring to the company I join that may not have been available to the organization before?
  • What is my greatest asset?

Job-Seeker Weaknesses

In assessing your weaknesses, think about what prospective employers might consider to be 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. 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 can provide valuable feedback. You might also consider asking yourself these questions:
  • Which of my skills, experiences, or education could be improved?
  • How do these weaknesses affect my current job performance? (These might include weakness in technical skill areas or in leadership or interpersonal skills.)
  • What do I do poorly?
  • Is there anything from my personal or professional life could be a root cause of unpleasant experiences in school or in past jobs?

Career Opportunities

In assessing opportunities, you will need conduct in-depth research into your career field, including reviewing job postings and the portfolios of people who have the job(s) you seek. You might also consider asking yourself these questions:
  • What is the "state of the art" in my particular area of expertise -- and can I obtain it?
  • What formal training and education can I add to my credentials that might position me appropriately for additional opportunities?
  • Would an MBA or another graduate degree add to my advantage?
  • How many opportunities are there in my chosen career?
  • What favorable changes are occurring in demographic, economic, technological, social/cultural, and governmental policy?

Career Threats

In reviewing threats -- or impediments -- to achieving the job or career of your dreams, it is important to again conduct research into your career field, as well as address broader changes happening in the external environment. You might also consider asking yourself these questions:
  • What obstacles do I face in obtaining my dream job?
  • Are the requirements changing for my desired job field?
  • Does changing technology threaten my prospective position?
  • Could my area of interest be fading in comparison with more emergent fields?
  • What unfavorable changes are occurring in demographic, economic, technological, social/cultural, and governmental policy?

Final Thoughts on a Career SWOT Analysis

Use this sample SWOT Career Analysis Template for developing your Career SWOT.

Once you have created your SWOT, the last step is developing key strategies to propel your career forward. Learn how to do this last important step using this sample SWOT Strategic Action Template that will guide you to developing eight or more career action steps.

Your Career SWOT Analysis should be a key part of your career strategic marketing plan.

See more of our Happy Career and Worklife Articles.

EmpoweringSites.com CEO Dr. Randall Hansen Dr. Randall S. Hansen is an educator, author, and blogger, as well as founder and CEO of EmpoweringSites.com, a network of empowering and transformative Websites, including EmpoweringAdvice.com. Dr. Hansen has been helping empower people to achieving success his entire adult life. He is also founder of EnhanceMyVocabulary.com, MyCollegeSuccessStory.com, and EmpoweringRetreat.com. He is a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. Dr. Hansen is also an educator, teaching business and marketing at the college level for more than 25 years. Learn more by visiting his personal Website, RandallSHansen.com. You can also check out Dr. Hansen on Google+, as well as Dr. Randall Hansen on LinkedIn.


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