Understand Your Strengths and Opportunities

Taking inventory of your abilities and liabilities is very important. You should understand your gifts: the strengths and opportunities that make you who you are and what is unique about you! Using a SWOT analysis is one way to accomplish that task.

What the Heck is a SWOT?

They use a SWOT analysis or matrix for business strategic planning. It identifies the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats related to achieving a specific project, business initiative or analyzing market competition. A SWOT analysis is also useful to identify the same four categories as those apply to you and your career.

The best way to do a SWOT analysis is with someone you trust that knows you well. It is very difficult to see oneself the way others can. However, you can do an initial evaluation (write it down) to a “straw dog” to start a discussion.

Evaluate Your Strengths

Strengths are what you do well. Said another way, these are your talents and abilities. We gravitate towards our strengths in both our personal lives (such as hobbies) and professional lives (in choosing a career). Think about it: Shouldn't we gravitate towards our best assets? Who would want to focus on their own weaknesses?

For example, if you are good at math, you might find music and games like chess interesting. If you are good at Math, you might also do well in Engineering, Logistics, Economics or Business or Web Analytics.

Evaluate Your Weaknesses

Weaknesses are the lack of abilities, skills or traits that could put you at a disadvantage, when compared to others. For example, if you want to be a Digital Director, but know little about technology, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or Email Campaigns, these are weaknesses. When identified, you can turn some of your weaknesses into strengths by taking training and working on projects that use those skills.

Sometimes, however, weaknesses are just that–weaknesses. For example, if you are bad with numbers, you would probably be very unhappy working in a Finance or Accounting department.

When to do Something About Your Weaknesses

The only time you need to work on weaknesses is if those are keeping you from being successful in your long-term goals. Otherwise, don’t focus on them. We are all weak at something.

Evaluate Your Opportunities

Opportunities are the things you can do that will aid you in building the career you want. For example, you might have a lack of experience in public speaking or presenting to large crowds. To help build your public speaking skills, you could join Toastmasters. You would gain public speaking skills and develop an entirely new network of professional colleagues.

Here’s another example: You’re interested in working at a company that uses only Apple computers, but you only know how to use Windows computers. The opportunity is to learn how to use Apple computers before you interview or work there.

Evaluate Your Threats

Threats can be people at work, the state of the industry you work in, the unemployment rate, or anything else that can harm your career. By identifying these threats, you can plan out a strategy to minimize potential liabilities.

For example, if you want to build new automobiles, but those jobs are going overseas or done by robots, you will probably have to seek a luxury or custom brand manufacturer and spend several years as an apprentice or go to a specialized technical school before you can do that.

The important thing about threats is to identify those as soon as you can to minimize risk and continue along your 10-year career plan.

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