Effective goal setting is of utmost importance when it comes to progressing in your career. The personal SWOT analysis is a great tool to assess yourself and find opportunities for growth. Once you've conducted a personal SWOT analysis, you'll be better prepared to set more informed, and therefore more effective, goals.
SWOT stands for:
When should you do a personal SWOT analysis?
A personal SWOT analysis can be done at any point in your career—not just when you're starting out. For instance, it could be a useful tool to use when you're considering a transition to a different career path or perhaps even when you're contending for a promotion.
Download this handy SWOT analysis template to get started!
The first step is to list your strengths - the things you have working in your favour. When you think about your strengths, remember to consider the soft skills as well as the hard skills. Take note of any characteristics that help you stand out from amongst your peers.
- What qualifications/certifications do you have?
- What do you do well?
- What personal characteristics would you consider to be strengths?
- What additional resources or contacts do you have at your disposal?
From our experience running Project Thrive, we've noticed that people often take their unique skills for granted when working through the Strengths section. One way to compensate for this is to perform the personal SWOT analysis with the help of a manager, colleague, or mentor. They might be able to highlight any potential blind spots that you have.
The next step is to identify your weaknesses. We all have areas we need to improve on. This is a good way to establish what these areas are. For instance perhaps you struggle to communicate technical concepts to people without a technical background, or perhaps you have difficulty managing your time. Determining areas for improvement can help you figure out what development opportunities you should keep an eye out for and prioritize.
- Are there skills that you currently lack?
- What things do you have difficulty with? (e.g. procrastination, communicating effectively)
Sometimes opportunities pass you by without you even noticing them. This section of the SWOT analysis requires you to review all the potential opportunities you could take advantage of.
- Are there any trends in your industry that you can take advantage of?
- Can you improve your skills?
- How can you get noticed? Is there a way you can demonstrate initiative?
- Can someone help you achieve your goals?
When setting new goals, it's easy to get excited. However, it's important to be realistic about what's achievable. When doing the Threats section of the SWOT analysis, it may be helpful to think of yourself as a ship charting a course and consider things that could potentially sink the ship as you go about your journey.
- What obstacles do you face? (e.g., resource shortages, lack of room for growth in your current role)
- What could get in your way? (e.g., unrealistic expectations about what can be achieved, personal life)
Using your personal SWOT analysis to set goals
Once you've conducted your personal SWOT analysis, you're ready to set more informed goals.
First, think about where your strengths and opportunities converge. If possible, your goals should aim to amplify the opportunities you've identified by taking advantage of your strengths.
Second, think about where your weaknesses and threats converge. While you can use them to decide which goals are more achievable than others, you can also make a plan to work on them so that they do not converge into an overwhelming obstacle.
From here, you can use the GROW goal setting tool to help you set effective goals.