You're more likely to succeed if you're well aware of your strengths and know how to use those strengths to your advantage. Likewise, if you're aware of your weaknesses and honest about them, you can better manage them so that they don't hinder you or hamper your growth.
For that reason, wherever you are in your career, you should do a personal SWOT analysis.
A personal SWOT analysis is simple. SWOT stands for:
A SWOT analysis is an effective process that professionals use to assess their internal strengths and weaknesses, and then analyze any potential external opportunities and threats that may stem from them. It's helpful for both job seekers and those looking to climb the career ladder to identify ways in which they can make the most of their strengths, manager their weaknesses, take advantage of opportunities and steer clear of threats. Essentially, a SWOT analysis is a strategic plan for growth.
The SWOT analysis was first used in the 1960s by businessmen Edmund P. Learned, C. Roland Christensen, Kenneth Andrews and William D. Guth. Then, in 1982, Heinz Weihrich came up with a two-by-two matrix to plot out the answers to the four categories (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) to make the SWOT analysis more easily digestible.
Every professional, regardless of where they are in their career, would benefit from doing a personal SWOT analysis. Though it may seem redundant to reiterate your strengths and weaknesses with yourself, given the fact that you're surely already aware of most of them, it's helpful to write these out on a palpable piece of paper or in a document that you can see, analyze and always come back to. While you may think that you're on top of all the opportunities and aware of any imminent threats, when you have an analysis to take in, you may learn of new opportunities and threats you might not have otherwise spotted.
Besides, it doesn't take too much time to fill out a personal SWOT analysis, and it won't hurt you to do it. The questions in a SWOT analysis are questions you should always be thinking of and asking yourself anyway.
In order to successfully conduct a SWOT analysis, you should first take a sheet of paper or a Word document on your computer and create a table of four boxes. Each quadrant will ask the questions about your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. And in each quadrant should be questions like the following.
When it comes to questions about your strengths, you need to be honest — there shouldn't be a concern about being humble, because this is for you and no one else.
Remember that you need to be honest about your weaknesses. Again, this is for you, and if you can't admit and own up to your weaknesses, you won't be able to work on them to help yourself get further in your career.
When thinking about your opportunities and threats, I always find it easier to begin with the “threats.” Try comparing yourself to people you’ll likely compete against for that next job or promotion. Then, as objectively as possible, judge your threats and determine possible ways to overcome them. Here are some examples:
When it comes to your threats, you should keep an open mind and not let them deter you. After all, the purpose of creating a SWOT analysis is to help you further your career, not set you back due to fear or apprehension.
You may also want to consider asking people around you for help filling out these four boxes; sometimes other people can see things that we cannot see in ourselves. They may also be able to offer you advice on how to turn weaknesses into strengths and threats into opportunities.
After you've filled out your SWOT analysis, you'll want to make sure you match your strengths with opportunities and take action in those areas. You'll also want to make sure that you match your weaknesses with your threats to help discover solutions or, at best, situations you can avoid.
Now that you understand what a personal SWOT analysis is and how it can help you in your career, you're probably wondering about examples. Here is an example of a personal SWOT analysis for every level professional.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist and an adventure aficionado with a keen cultural curiosity and an affinity for solo travel. She's an editor by day and a travel blogger at HerReport.org by night.
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