Personal SWOT Analysis
Discover new opportunities.
Manage and eliminate threats.
SWOT Analysis is a powerful technique for identifying Strengths and Weaknesses, and for examining the Opportunities and Threats you face.
Used in a personal context, it helps you develop your career in a way that takes best advantage of your talents, abilities and opportunities.
What makes SWOT particularly powerful is that with a little thought, it can help you uncover opportunities that you are well placed to take advantage of. And by understanding your weaknesses, you can manage and eliminate threats that would otherwise catch you unawares.
More than this, by looking at yourself using the SWOT framework, you can start to distinguish yourself from your peers, developing the specialized talents and abilities needed to accelerate your career.
How to use the tool:
To carry out a SWOT Analysis, print out our free worksheet, and write down answers to the following questions:
- What advantages (for example, skills, education or connections) do you have that others don’t have?
- What do you do better than anyone else?
- What personal resources do you have access to?
- What do other people (and your boss in particular) see as your strengths?
Consider this from your own perspective, and from the point of view of the people around you. And don’t be modest; be as objective as you can. (If you are having any difficulty with this, try writing down a list of your characteristics. Some of these will hopefully be strengths!)
In looking at your strengths, think about them in relation to the people around you – for example, if you’re a great mathematician and the people around you are great at math, then this is not likely to be a strength in your current role: it’s more likely to be a necessity!
- What could you improve?
- What should you avoid?
- What things are the people around you likely to see as weaknesses?
Again, consider this from a personal and external basis: Do other people perceive weaknesses that you do not see? Do co-workers consistently out-perform you in key areas? It is best to be realistic now, and face any unpleasant truths as soon as possible.
- Where are the good opportunities facing you?
- What are the interesting trends you are aware of?
Useful opportunities can come from such things as:
- Changes in technology, markets and your company, on both a broad and narrow scale.
- Changes in government policy related to your field.
- Changes in social patterns, population profiles, lifestyle changes, and suchlike.
- Local Events.
A useful approach to looking at opportunities is also to look at your strengths and ask yourself whether these open up any opportunities.
Alternatively, look at your weaknesses and ask yourself whether you could open up opportunities by eliminating them.
- What obstacles do you face?
- What are the people around you doing?
- Is your job (or the demand for the things you do) changing?
- Is changing technology threatening your position?
- Could any of your weaknesses seriously threaten you?
Just as your strengths can often bring opportunities, your weaknesses can often bring threats. Check the weaknesses you’ve listed, and make sure that you’ve identified any threats that could come from them.
Finally, update your personal planning system to reflect your SWOT Analysis. Where you’ve identified possible opportunities, set goals to explore them, with a view to capitalizing on them. Where you’ve identified possible threats, set goals to investigate them, with a view to eliminating, managing or minimizing them.
A SWOT matrix is a framework for analyzing your strengths and weaknesses, and the opportunities and threats you face. This helps you to focus on your strengths, minimize weaknesses, and take the greatest possible advantage of opportunities available.
Carrying out this analysis will often be illuminating – both in terms of pointing out what needs to be done, and in putting problems into perspective.