In an ever-changing job market such as today's, it’s vital not to only be aware of the latest news in your field, but also to stay alert to new opportunities arising in other sectors. If you're set on getting a better job, then it's important to understand yourself and know how to give the best of yourself. To do so, one of the best tools is a personal SWOT analysis.
SWOT analysis’ are derived from the world of business strategy and aim to identify the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats in a business or sector, although they can also be applied to the personal sphere.
As the name suggests, you can conduct a personal SWOT analysis that focuses specifically on your characteristics as a worker. The ultimate goal is to correct your short-comings and boost your abilities in order to improve yourself and your career, and achieve your professional objectives or success in a specific project.
To carry out this exercise in self-awareness, all you need is a pen and paper (either a word processor or a similar program where you can take notes) and be sincere in your answers.
Your personal SWOT analysis studies your strengths and weaknesses (internal factors) and opportunities and threats (external factors).
Not only is it vital to understand your own strengths, but also you have to know how to convey them and how to showcase your talents. These are based on your global experience: your educational background, your professional achievements, etc, as much as on your personal achievements and what you have learnt in life. So, think of experiences outside the world of work that have helped you to overcome difficulties at work.
The key is to highlight what sets you apart from your competitors. Differentiation or specialisation can prove to be your greatest ally when it comes to professional development. Ask yourself questions such as:
What am I good at?
Which tasks do I enjoy most?
What skills do I excel at compared to my competitors?
Do I have any innate talents? How can I take advantage of them?
Do I have a competitive advantage such as valuable education, skills, contacts or experience?
Try to pinpoint what you're lacking (this might be an attitude, a skill, a specific knowledge, etc.), what you don't like and what you're not good at, in order to improve them. You should ask yourself questions such as:
Have I detected any bad habits in the performance of my job or has anything been mentioned to me about it?
Has anyone, colleagues or bosses, spoken to me about my professional weaknesses?
What tasks do I put off because I don't like them, can't be bothered with them, or I'm not good at them?
Do I have personality traits that impact the effective performance of my job?
What areas can I improve: attitude, skills, knowledge?
As with threats, opportunities are external factors that are out of your control. Again, try to identify them and adapt yourself to them as quickly as possible. You really need to keep an eye on trends in both the market and your profession: technological changes, state or institutional support, and business movements in your sector.
A few questions to ask yourself are:
Do I have a good network? Do I use it to my advantage?
Are there any under-exploited niches in the market that offer good opportunities?
How can I use technology to develop my career or improve my company’s productivity?
Which path in my profession has the best career prospects?
Can I apply for grants or support from any institution?
As an external factor, threats don't depend on you and you can't control them. However, you can adapt and be ready for potential threats.
Threats can come in all shapes and sizes and tend to affect a profession as a whole or even the entire economy. It could be a pandemic, like the one we're experiencing right now, a global economic crisis, or a crisis specific to your field of work, for example.
What are the chances of an economic crisis?
What external factors limit my professional development?
Are there any changes affecting my industry?
What are the other professionals with whom I compete like? What are their strengths?
As you can see, a SWOT analysis isn't difficult and anyone can do it. Here are some practical tips to get the most out of it:
Brainstorm: don't censor your own thoughts and make sure you write down everything you can think of.
Ask colleagues, friends and family for help. They will have a different point of view and might be able to identify things you’re missing.
Use a matrix to visualise the overall analysis.
Let some days go by and re-evaluate your analysis to adjust your findings if necessary.
A personal SWOT analysis can be used in many different ways:
In recruitment procedures. It can be used by both the recruiter and the applicant. The interviewer can identify the interviewees’ strengths that are of most interest to the company, and choose the right candidate. Meanwhile, if you're attending a job interview, your SWOT analysis can help you to highlight your personal skills and successfully deal with difficult questions.
To set professional goals. These might be long-term goals, such as what career you want to follow, or medium-term, such as goals set by your company or a personal project. In the latter case, if you are an entrepreneur, it will help you to evaluate the likelihood of your business being successful and to launch it with a defined focus. In this sense, it is closely related to the Japanese concept of “ikigai”, which aims to give a sense of purpose to your life and lead to personal satisfaction.
Enhance your career. You will be able to evaluate whether your skills, abilities and attitude are valued by your company, consider whether it's time to move up the career ladder, take on new challenges and projects, or seek change and reorient your career.
Create a personal brand. This concept has become essential in recent times, especially for freelance professionals. A SWOT analysis will help you to understand the factors that make you stand out from the competitors.
It should be noted that there are no good or bad results from a personal SWOT analysis. The important thing is to be sincere and follow up on the results. This can be done through a process known as CAME:
Correct your weaknesses
Adjust to threats
Maintain the strengths
A personal SWOT analysis will come in very handy at identifying what you excel at and where you want to take your career. To help students and professionals of any age to get ahead, Banco Santander offers, Santander Scholarships, a wide range of scholarships in different fields: technology, languages, skills, leadership, etc.
The main aim of Santander Scholarships is to provide anyone interested in enhancing their employability, increasing their skills or reorienting their career with training opportunities. In order to achieve this, Banco Santander is committed to lifelong learning, reskilling and upskilling, three key concepts to drive employability through the acquisition of new knowledge and training in the most in-demand transferable skills for companies.
If you want to boost or reorient your career through training, check out the Santander Scholarships website and choose the best option according to your profile and your goals. Make the most of this opportunity!