I got a business degree (with an emphasis in Computer Information Systems) and then an MBA, and if there is something that permeated my educational experience is was the SWOT analysis.
Trying to figure out if a new product line should roll out? Do a SWOT. Trying to size up a new opportunity? Do a SWOT. Wondering how viable your company will be in the next few years? Do a SWOT. Can’t figure out why your company is having problems, or losing market share? Do a SWOT!
I heard that for YEARS. The problem with SWOT is that it is too simplistic – the power of a SWOT is hidden because of the simplicity. But it really does give you terrific insight into issues – even your own career issues. Here’s what SWOT is, and how it applies to YOU:
Strengths: What are the strengths you bring to the table? Be honest here, and even get input from others who know you well. We’re talking about soft skills, hard skills, certifications, experience, ability to perform, etc. Are you better than someone else with your same job title? Why? How can you describe how you are better?
Weaknesses: Again, you need to be honest here (unless, of course, dishonesty is one of your weaknesses :p). What are things you can improve on? Or put another way, what are things that your competition is stronger at, where you won’t be able to compete as well? It’s critical to understand – put yourself in the place of a hiring manager, comparing you and your competitor (the other person in the interview)… how what would they see as your weaknesses?
Opportunities: Are there opportunities for you to grow, or for you to solve a problem? Are their environmental circumstances that you can help with? I met a guy who loves the second-hand market, with the goal of decreasing the amount of stuff going into our landfills. Guess what – there’s plenty of opportunities for someone who can marry the GREEN initiatives with corporate politics (this guy could do it) – he figured it was a time to reinvent his career path… are there opportunities you can address?
Threats: What can get in the way of your current path, or a new path (as revealed in the Opportunities section)? Can government regulation get in the way, or environmental issues, or competition? Are “low barriers to entry” an issue? For example, right now it’s pretty easy to call yourself a “social media expert,” because there are no barriers to entry… I would not suggest you move down that path, as it is muddy. What are things that can threaten you, your plan, your career future?
Take an hour and do a SWOT on yourself, or the career path you think you want to pursue! Write it down, keep it close to you, and update it as you think about it – this should be a fluid document.