Career savviness is learned not taught. You learn through trial and error. After a while, you get the hang of things. This is not a one-time event. You have to continually stay current regarding your own skills and your industry. Whether you feel like it or not, you will have to reinvent yourself in order to keep working. This requires an easy to use tool to make the process easier. A personal SWOT analysis is just the tool to smoothly guide you from one career reinvention to another.
Everyone knows what a SWOT analysis is. This is a tool where you assess your business’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. However, do you know that you can apply this same tool to yourself? Yes, indeed! You can conduct a personal SWOT analysis.
Here are some reasons why you should conduct a SWOT analysis.
o Survival of the fittest: You need to know your weaknesses before your enemy does.
o Capitalize upon industry trends (opportunities)
o Learn where the market is going. You have to know which industries are contracting versus expanding.
Here are my steps towards conducting a personal SWOT analysis
Look at your current situation. Where are you right now. Don’t judge yourself for lack of progress. Just write down where you are right now. You have to start here in order to start conducting a SWOT analysis. Your current as-is state is the groundwork necessary.
List each attribute from an internal (you as a professional) and an external (your industry)
I know that many people say that you can control your performance, you can control anything; but, you must account for where your industry is going. Using myself as an example, I have a statistical programming background that’s heavy with SAS; however, I have started learning R and SQL because these are important programming languages. It would be myopic to only look at my internal strength without recognizing where my industry is going. You must do the same. Environment is key! In addition, here are some additional questions to ask yourself when writing about your external attributes:
- What are legal factors that have influence on my business?
- What are ecological factors that have influence on my business?
- What are political factors that have influence on my business?
- What are economic factors that have influence on my business?
- What are social factors that have influence on my business?
- What are technological factors that have influence on my business?
Furthermore, look at the external factors for your weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
List your strengths
Add how will maximize your strengths. You have to play up your strengths. These strengths will get you hired in multiple industries. Moreover, magnifying your strengths can deflect employers from looking at your weaknesses.
List your weaknesses
Ask yourself these two questions: how will you minimize your weaknesses? Or how will you ensure that your weaknesses don’t stop or impede your upward mobility? You don’t want the weak to overshadow your strengths.
List your opportunities
When listing your opportunities, ask yourself these three questions:
- Ask yourself what are the new opportunities in my field?
- Is my current skillset enough to take advantage of these new opportunities?
- If not, what skills do I need to acquire in order to take advantage of these new opportunities?
List your threats
Finally, with your threats, you have to get real with listing them. Threats can derail your career.
- Is there an immediate career threat? If so, how do I deal with it?
- If this is an industry that I still love, how do I pivot to stay in it?
- If this is a declining industry, what current skills do I have to transfer to other thriving industries?
Is there an immediate career threat? Handle it ASAP because you want to be a casualty.
Frequency of conducting a personal SWOT analysis
I recommend that you do it every quarter. As the seasons change, so does the landscape and you need to be able to read the signs just in case you need to transition into a new industry. Remember, career savviness is not a one-time event. You have continually do it. However, with a personal SWOT analysis, every time you do it, the process becomes easier and easier.
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