Article

Overcoming the SWOT Fear: How – and Why – You Should Use SWOT for Career Success

Posted:
23 June 2022   |   by Explore Careers
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Even with the best intentions, organising your ideas, goals and interests around your career pathway is no easy job!

One thing we’ve learnt is that having the right tools and resources is crucial if you want to focus on proactive steps forward and get some clarity over where you’re at versus where you want to get to.

You might have come across SWOT already in your academic endeavours – we know it’s not everyone’s favourite tool – but hear us out!

If clarity over your next steps and what you need to focus on NOW is what you’re after, a SWOT analysis could be just what you need.

What is a SWOT Analysis?

The idea of a SWOT analysis originally came about as a business strategy tool to help organisations uncover areas of improvement within teams and service delivery.

What began as a helpful business tool is now used widely in all kinds of areas, including personal development and career coaching, to help give individuals a birds-eye view of where they’re at and how they might make positive changes to keep working towards their goals.

SWOT stands for:

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Opportunities
  • Threats

How Do You Conduct a SWOT Analysis?

Carrying out a SWOT analysis seems super straightforward but can be tricky once you start getting stuck in – which is probably why so many people steer clear of them if they can!

We promise that the more you do them, the easier they get, and the more you’ll start to see the value they can have in helping you to keep moving forward.

Below we’ve broken down how to conduct a SWOT Analysis for your career journeys and the type of things you can include/reflect on within each section.

Mapping Out Your SWOT Analysis

First up, you want to have a goal in mind for your SWOT Analysis. Some examples of a career goal might be:

  • Landing your first job.
  • Applying for an Apprenticeship
  • Deciding on a subject for university
  • Learning more about a particular industry or job role.
Strengths

Your strengths are – probably predictably – all the good things you’ve already got going for you. These will probably be dependent on the goal, but you can include as many things as you think you’ve got down.

For example, if your goal is to land your first job, some strengths could be:

  • Full written, tailored and up-to-date resume.
  • Some relevant work or voluntary experience under your belt.
  • Existing connections in the industry who can give you a good reference.

Strengths are usually internally focused – meaning they’re things you have control over. While you might need external support to achieve them, you’re the one who has to take action to get them in place.

Weaknesses

Weaknesses are the things that might hold you back or are areas where you need to focus improvements on.

For example, if your goal is to apply for an apprenticeship, some weaknesses could be:

  • Unsure of who is offering and hiring apprentices in your chosen industry.
  • Knowledge gaps around chosen industry and apprenticeship roles.
  • Lack of confidence attending an interview.

Just like strengths, weaknesses should have an internal focus. This means you have full capacity to act on them and improve them without having to wait for someone else.

Opportunities

Opportunities are similar to strengths, but where strengths are internally focused, opportunities are externally focused.

That doesn’t mean you sit around waiting for them. The thing with opportunities is you still have to be proactive to make sure you grab hold of them!

Some examples of opportunities if you’re deciding on a university subject could be:

  • Open Days where you can learn more about different subjects and ask questions.
  • Teachers at school who might have studied the subjects at degree level who you can pick the brains of.
  • Online workshops where you can learn more about specific study pathways for careers and preferred subjects.
Threats

Threats tie into weaknesses – and you guessed it – tend to be externally focused. These are the things to be mindful of and make plans to ensure they don’t create unnecessary barriers to achieving your goals.

Some examples of threats if you’re applying for apprenticeships could be:

  • Approaching deadlines for applications.
  • Specific requirements you need to meet, for example, achieving a set grade in English or Maths.
  • Not researching and preparing for detailed assessment days or interview processes.

Next Steps

And there you have it – your complete run down of how to get started with SWOT Analysis for your career!

Not as scary as you thought, hey?

If this is your first time using SWOT, we recommend starting with a small goal and building your way up as you get more familiar with the things that can fall under each section. The more you do it, the easier it will become, and you’ll quickly see how valuable this simple little tool can be.

After all, failing to prepare is preparing to fail – or something like that – SWOT will help you either way!

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