Ah, the SWOT analysis. Many of you studied about it in college. Others have heard it discussed in circles of small business owners or entrepreneurs.
In short, a SWOT analysis is an acronym for a report that digs into Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. SWOT analyses are usually implemented in the context of a business to develop new revenue, come up with a strategic marketing plan, or simply find a way to survive in today’s economy.
If you are looking for a career change, then in essence you to are trying to compete in the market just like a business. When in this situation, many individuals do a good job of focusing on what we in HR call “soft skills.” They take personality profiles to understand themselves better and learn about their work style behaviors. The problem is “soft skill development” often stops short in understanding how that translates to marketing oneself tangibly. A career SWOT analysis just might be the thing you need! Let’s look at how that might come to life.
Strengths – Your work patterns (how you work) and the results you typically bring signal your uniqueness to a potential employer. Having clear value statements that are supported by real achievements showcase your strengths. Now, this is easier said than done. But these are usually things that come naturally to you and therefore you tend to overlook their value. I often refer to this as your “DNA” – your Defined Natural Ability. And if you can wisely present it to others, you will demonstrate strengths that can get you hired.
Weaknesses – If you have ever been fired from a job, don’t have all the skill sets asked for in the job description, feel you are too old and won’t be considered for advancement, or think that the salary you are accustomed too is too high to compete in the market – you are experiencing weaknesses! Whether factual or not, your perception of these as negatives makes you feel like a weaker candidate. You must learn to test your perceptions. What you focus on will impact your search, so spend more time focusing on your Strengths!
Opportunity – Opportunity comes in many forms. Know what industries are thriving within the geographic areas you are targeting. Take the time to test new career targets. Talk with others who are doing what you think you want to do. And be comforted that 60% of individuals are in careers today that don’t match their degree! How is that possible? Because there are more ways than one to enter a career. But you won’t find those ways in a job board position description.
Threat – Who are you competing against in the market? It may actually be yourself. If you don’t feel confident, or question your value in the job market, or feel inadequate to step up to the challenge, or have fear about networking, you are your own worst enemy! Be careful not to think of yourself as the victim. Remember that the very thing you don’t feel comfortable with is often the thing that – if you surrender too it – will unlock the best outcome.