Try a SWOT Analysis for Career Planning
Updated: Oct 11
You are ready to change jobs, you want to try working in a new industry. In career circles that’s called “the double pivot”. How do you figure out your strengths, weaknesses, and knowledge/skills gaps before you make your move? If you identify with these statements, then it looks like a personal SWOT analysis might benefit you.
What is a SWOT Analysis?
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. A personal SWOT Analysis is a powerful self-evaluation exercise. It presents a visual explanation of the way that you fit into the competitive landscape. It helps you to recognize internal and external factors that weigh into your career choices. But, most importantly, the analysis is beneficial for identifying the next steps that should be taken for career-planning success.
How Can a SWOT Analysis Help Reset Career Goals?
Provides space for individual self-evaluation
Action steps are identified through the opportunities analysis
Shows both positives and negatives to aid in identifying areas of improvement or change in order to meet your career goal
Internal characteristics (things you control) are evaluated against external characteristics (things you cannot control)
How Do I Use a SWOT Analysis Template?
You should have identified your new career and industry to which you want to pivot. Questions to consider are listed on the template. Start by identifying your professional strengths and weaknesses for your newly identified job and/or industry. Sometimes a professional weakness can be used and turned into a strength for a job change. Then review and take into account networking opportunities, new business trends, quality of life issues, and education needs by filling in the Opportunity and Threats section.
Identify Your Strengths
Recognize Your Weaknesses
Now, look at the areas that need improvement if you are to reach your career goal. Do you have the needed skills, education, and experience? If not, what can you do to change that? It’s important to spend some time thinking about the areas that can use some attention. You will receive the most insight by looking in the mirror and asking the ones closest to you. Look at your weaknesses as an opportunity to grow. If your skills are lacking, or you’re terrible at keeping time, how can you get better? What areas do you need to take training, take on extra work, or a project? When SWOTing a job change, think about the perceivable pitfalls of the employer and the offer. Is it a fading industry? Does the company seem like they’re on the decline?
Label Your Opportunities
When SWOTing a job change, think about the perceivable pitfalls of the employer and the offer. Next, look at the opportunities that meet your desired career change. This is an area where your network (in-person or online) will be helpful. Start researching new opportunities, and take a look at what's around you. You can consider taking advantage of job boards, recruitment agencies, and LinkedIn. Consider interviewing with someone in your target field and industry. Gather knowledge.
Define Any Existing Threats
Wrap up the analysis by identifying any threats that stand in your way. What are the barriers that you face? What is standing between you and your dreams? Are finances or relationships factored into your career choices? Are your own weaknesses holding you back? When identifying your threats, it’s important to keep in mind that these are external influences. These external people, events, or situations currently stand in your way of success. What are they? Much like weaknesses, threats pose a negative impact on your career or planned job changes. Are your skills becoming fast outdated, and is your employee making cutbacks? Think of how you can future-proof yourself and secure your career. For every negative, try to find a positive by working out the best possible opportunity in the situation.
Plan Your Career Pivot Using a TOES Analysis
Once you finish the SWOT grid, it’s time to use the results to create a realistic career change plan. You can draw meaningful conclusions to shape your self-improvement strategy by comparing the squares vertically and horizontally.
How can your current strengths be leveraged to take advantage of career change opportunities? What are the strengths you need to better position yourself and take advantage of new opportunities? Look for opportunities to align with your strengths. Evaluate potential opportunities through the lens of your personal strengths. Start by writing down the requirements and needs of your career change goal. What resources do you need to achieve your goal?
What are the specific ways your strengths can be used to counteract potential threats? How can you create a plan that uses creative thinking and your abilities to advance your career goals?
How can your weaknesses be overcome or assist in tapping into developing opportunities? What additional opportunities could you benefit from if you didn't have these weaknesses? How could you use delegation, outsourcing, or technology to minimize or eliminate your weaknesses?
Can you change your weaknesses so that you can counteract identified threats? How can you empower yourself to take decisive action instead of being paralyzed? First, identify where weaknesses and threats overlap. While weaknesses are internal, threats are external elements that could pose a risk to your success. When they overlap, these factors have the potential to create big obstacles. The more you learn to manage and plan your responses, the better you’ll be at keeping your career goals on track.
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