9 Jan 2020

Career Development

Why you need to conduct a personal SWOT analysis

Written by Dennis Stanley

When formulating a strategy for a business, many people conduct a SWOT analysis to help them gain an understanding of what needs to be done. But, why do we reserve this insightful exercise for organisations, when they are so useful for our personal development too? Here I look at what they are and why you should conduct a personal SWOT analysis.

What is a SWOT analysis?

In case you aren’t aware – or you need a refresher – SWOT is an acronym for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. When used to analyse a business you’d work through each of these headings in relation to the subject. This could be a department, a product, a process or even the organisation as a whole.

So, for example, you would look at what the business is doing well (its strengths), better understand what it can improve on (its weaknesses), identify if there are any new markets to move into (opportunities) and identify any changes in the marketplace (e.g. competitors launching new products or services) which could impact your market position and may reduce the current turnover (threats).

This is a really simplified example, but hopefully it’ll give you an idea. If you do want to find out more about conducting a business SWOT analysis then this is a comprehensive resource. But, for now, I want to consider what happens when we turn this insight onto ourselves.

Why should I do a personal SWOT analysis?

The reasoning for carrying out a SWOT analysis on yourself is very similar to why you would do it focusing on a business. It’s a fantastic tool for helping you audit your skills and highlight any areas you need to work on or be aware of in relation to achieving your goals.

This makes it particularly useful to do when you’re applying for a new job or wanting a change in career, and is something that I encourage all of my clients in that position to do.

How do you do a personal SWOT analysis?

Divide a piece of paper into 4 and write your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in each section. I’ll give you an idea of what to consider for each part below:

Strengths: Try to look at yourself subjectively, as though you are talking about someone else or a product. What are you good at? Is there anything that makes you stand out from the competition? Are there particular situations that you excel in? Many people find this the hardest section to fill out. It can make you feel uncomfortable if you are not used to praising yourself, so be gentle with yourself – and if necessary, ask someone close to you what they think should be included.

Weaknesses: This isn’t a reason to tear into yourself. Don’t let it get personal and become a list of everything you don’t like about yourself, as that won’t do you any good. Instead think about any areas that you could improve on or that may need work in order for you to achieve your goal.

Opportunities: This and the following section focus on what’s going on around you, and may require some research rather than introspective thinking. Opportunities may include things like being able to get a recommendation from someone within the company, or an upcoming course that you could take that would enhance your skillset.

Threats: As you may expect, here you should write the things that may hold you back or get in your way. A particularly strong candidate that you know you are up against perhaps, or a restriction on the hours you can work due to having to use public transport.

Remember, the idea is to gain a comprehensive picture of how you fit the role you are aiming for and identify any gaps so that you can put a plan in place to eliminate or mitigate them. So, if your goal for 2020 is to secure your dream job, make sure you include a personal SWOT analysis in your strategy for success.

Alternatively, if the idea of carrying out a SWOT on yourself fills you with dread, then consider this as an alternative approach. The C-Me “High Performance Report” will provide you with custom detailed analysis of your preferred ways of doing things, specifically: strengths, areas for development, blind spots, communication preferences, value to the team, attitude towards commitment, role preference and handling setbacks.

If you’d like to find out more about the C-Me report or would like some expert support in developing your personal SWOT get in touch today.