How to Complete a Personal SWOT Analysis

A SWOT analysis is a tried-and-true method businesses use to identify internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats. The assessment is included in any business or marketing plan worth its salt because it provides critical information needed to create a strategic plan for growth.

This important exercise can also be helpful for individuals. Whether you’re looking for a new job or trying to climb the corporate ladder, a personal SWOT analysis can help you achieve your goals. It’s a creative method of self-assessment to help you assess where your career is and where it could go.

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A SWOT can help you better understand how to play to your strengths and manage your weaknesses, as well as uncover opportunities for growth and eliminate threats that could keep you from moving forward.

To perform a personal SWOT, divide a paper into four quadrants (one each for strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities).

To fill in each area, try answering the following questions:

Strengths (don’t be modest):
● How do your education, skills, talents certifications, and connections set you apart from your peers?
● What would your boss or coworkers say are your strengths?
● What values or ethics do you have that your peers often lack?
● What achievements are you most proud of?

Weaknesses (be honest):
● Where are your education, training, or skills lacking?
● What would your boss or coworkers say are your weaknesses?
● What are your negative work habits and personality traits?
● What do you avoid because you lack confidence?

Opportunities: 
● What trends are affecting your industry? 
● In what areas is your industry growing?
● How could new technology help you advance?
● How could your connections help you?

Threats: 
● What obstacles do you currently face in your career?
● Who is your competition?
● Will new technology or certifications demands slow your progress?
● How is your job or industry changing in ways that could affect your advancement?

Consider asking people who know you well and whom you trust (a spouse, friend, or coworker) to review your completed matrix and provide honest feedback.

Use your SWOT analysis to match your strengths with opportunities and take aggressive action in those areas. Or, match weaknesses with threats to discover situations you should avoid. You can also use the information to convert weaknesses into strengths and threats into opportunities, when possible.

Want to really level up your professional game? Use this exercise each time you look for a new job, consider a career shift, or approach a new goal or project. You’ll walk away with great insights, action steps, and laser focus — a recipe for success.

Jodie Shaw is Chief Marketing Officer for The Alternative Board, a global company providing small- to medium-sized business owners and leaders help and advice with facilitated monthly business advisory boards together with one-on-one coaching. She is currently writing her first book, All Leaders Make Mistakes. Read the introduction on LinkedIn Pulse. Comments always welcome.