Guest Author - Dianne Walker
Exactly what is a SWOT? SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Just like businesses, it’s important for you to understand your own personal SWOT. Many businesses perform a SWOT analysis to determine what they do well, what they need to work on, opportunities for growth and threats to making that happen. When you look at it like that, it makes sense that you should apply the same technique to your career. Do you have a personal career goal? When was the last time you took a step back to analyze your career?
Strengths – What are you good at? What types of projects have you successfully completed that have had a positive impact on the bottom line? To answer this question, be sure that you understand the bottom line of the organization. Not just your current organization, however, but for other companies you may have worked for. Where have you excelled and helped to meet their goals? Understanding how you have helped the organization, helps you to see your personal strengths. Take a look at your history. Don’t just ask yourself; ask your manager, co-workers and trusted friends. This goes back to the concept that we don’t always see ourselves as others see us. For example, you may think that you struggle at closing sales, but your figures show that you closed more sales than the top salesperson.
Weakness – Where do you struggle? To put it bluntly, where have you failed? Remember, however, that failures really are learning opportunities in disguise. Be diligent, in not only looking at your weaknesses and failures but also why they occurred in the first place. Do you need additional training? What critical piece is missing to keep it from becoming a strength? Just like your strengths, you want to gather outside opinions here as well.
Opportunities – You should look at opportunities from all angles – not just promotional opportunities, but also opportunities for training, opportunities to make a difference and give back to others who may follow in your footsteps one day. Opportunities to give back can also be a learning experience.
Threats – How far down the horizon do you look? You need to look at the big picture outside of your cubicle. For example, have sales gone downhill? Are customers leaving? Is the company downsizing and laying off staff? Are there a large number of employees retiring from another department? Knowing the challenges and trends will go a long way in helping you to identify the threats to whatever your goal may be. They also help you to figure a game plan to overcome threats.
Completing a SWOT analysis should always be the first step in determining your career path.