Maybe you’ve heard about the SWOT analysis before, but what you might not know is how easily you can apply it to yourself. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats; four elements that we will definitely find in every strategic decision we make either in our personal or professional life.
Let’s start by clarifying what this acronym means when it comes to a job search or even a career change (warning, no euphemisms used):
Strengths: what gives you advantage over other candidates. It might refer to skills, knowledge or work experience. Even your personality may be considered a big strength depending on the job you are applying. Ask yourself: What am I good at? How do people see me? What values rule my life?
Weaknesses: also known as disadvantages. Basically, the area(s) in which others are better than you. This is the moment when you have to be honest with yourself and identify what you need to improve, what you think might make you fail, and define how you think this will impact your next professional step. Think to yourself: Do you have any negative work habits? What are you afraid of? Do you need more training? Which of your personality traits can be perceived as weaknesses in a work environment?
Opportunities: time to work on those weaknesses and think about alternatives to improve and discover all the options you have. Never a truer word spoken: where there is a crisis, there is an opportunity. So, look at the external factors you can take advantage of (e.g. new technology)
Threats: everything that might cause trouble or add some difficulties on the way to reaching your goal. Look at external factors that can be perceived as obstacles, financial issues, geographical barriers or past experience of failing to achieve your goals to name a few.
The purpose of a personal SWOT analysis is to get to know who you really are, where you stand and to find out the best way to get to where you want to be. If you practice this before a job interview or a big career change, you will find that you are more confident and better prepared for what’s coming next.
Once you have completed your list of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (assuming you wrote them down), here are some tips on how to reach great conclusions:
- Compare your strengths and weaknesses to the job requirements
- Get prepared for jobs interviews by anticipating questions like “what’s your biggest weakness?”
- Identify opportunities
- Improve your weaknesses
- Match your strengths to opportunities
- Convert weaknesses into strengths