If you were to search for the history or origins of SWOT analysis, you would find that there are differing opinions on the subject. Some believe that SWOT originated in the ’50s and was developed by professors George Albert Smith Jr., C. Roland Christiensen, and Kenneth Andrews at the Harvard Business School. Others acknowledge Albert S. Humphrey as the creator of SWOT analysis at Stanford Research Institute in the ’60s, although Humphrey himself never took credit.
Regardless of who deserves recognition for its creation, SWOT analysis is a very popular tool used to help businesses and individuals identify the following:
- Strengths: Characteristics that give you an advantage over others.
- Weaknesses: Characteristics that give you a disadvantage in relation to others.
- Opportunities: Trends or technologies that you can exploit to gain an advantage.
- Threats: Obstacles that impede your career growth.
In this article, we will explain how to do a SWOT analysis on yourself. We will also share some personal SWOT analysis examples to help you get started with your own self-reflection.
Why do a personal SWOT analysis?
First, let’s discuss why you should perform a self SWOT analysis in the first place. You may have heard the often repeated aphorism, “Find a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” The adage is usually attributed to Confucius, even though nobody can find any evidence that he ever said it (and how many job opportunities could there have been in 500 B.C.?).
The point is that you should try to find a job that you really enjoy doing. But, how do you find a job that you love, that matches your skill set, and that pays well? An assessment of your strengths and weaknesses using a SWOT analysis is a good start to help you find a career that is a good fit for you and your employer.
How do you do an individual SWOT analysis?
Create your own SWOT matrix or use a premade personal SWOT analysis template from Lucidchart. To perform a personal SWOT analysis, complete the following four basic steps to fill in each quadrant of the template.
Step 1: Assess your strengths
It’s okay to “toot your own horn” here as you write down what makes you stand out from your peers. Answer questions such as:
- What skills and certifications do you have that give you an advantage over others?
- Do you have any powerful industry contacts who could vouch for your skills and abilities?
- What would your boss or your co-workers say are your strengths?
- What can you do better than anybody else?
- Does your education and expertise fill a void that is lacking in your organization?
- What beneficial values do you have that you believe others fail to show?
- What are your most rewarding achievements?
As you answer these questions, don’t worry about being modest. However, be as objective as you can—you don’t want to be delusional about your abilities. Include some of your personal qualities because those can also be your strengths.
It is also important to understand that some of the things that you list as a strengths are not really strengths at all. For example, you may believe that you can “make it” in the music industry because you write songs. However, as it turns out, there are millions of people who can write songs. To find your true strength, you need to consider what makes your music stand out from the others.
Step 2: Assess your weaknesses
Like when you assessed your strengths, you don’t want to hold back here. Be brutally honest with yourself to determine your weaknesses and answer questions such as:
- Are there tasks that you avoid or pass off to others because you don’t feel confident enough to do them?
- What holes are there in your education or skills that are holding you back?
- What new technologies or practices have been introduced since you earned your degree?
- Do you have any bad habits like being late to work, not following prescribed processes, communicating poorly, or having the attitude that you are surrounded by idiots and you alone know all the answers?
- How well do you handle stress?
- Do you meet deadlines?
- What weaknesses might your co-workers and boss point out?
As you work through this process, remember that “I work too much” is not a valid weakness. It also is not the answer that the hiring manager wants to hear in an interview.
Listing your weaknesses should not feel like you are beating yourself up. Instead, this should be a positive exercise that identifies the areas that you can turn into strengths, so you can get a promotion or a better job to further your career.
Step 3: Identify opportunities
A quotation often attributed to Thomas Edison says, “We often miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work.” (Of course, nobody can find any verified citation of Edison ever saying this prior to a 1962 attribution in a Forbes magazine article. Since Edison died in 1931, the attribution is debatable, which seems to be a theme in this article.)
The point is, there are generally opportunities all around. Finding those opportunities depends on individual personality and desire. Positive people tend to see more opportunities than negative people. And people who are less ambitious may not recognize an opportunity unless it hits them over the head.
As you fill in this section of the SWOT template, look for opportunities such as:
- Is there a new technology that you can learn that will help you reach your goals?
- Can you find help from others on the Internet?
- Is there an open position within your company, or outside your company, that more closely matches your skills and strengths?
- In what ways is your industry growing, and what can you do to help it grow?
- Can you volunteer to take on a task or project that nobody else wants to do?
- Are the seminars or classes that you can attend to improve your skills?
- Is there a need that nobody else is filling?
As you work through this section, look at your weaknesses to see if there are any that can be turned into opportunities. For example, you may not think of yourself as a very good project lead, but how can you know if you don’t jump at the chance to lead a project when it comes up?
Step 4: Be aware of threats
In this quadrant of the SWOT analysis template, take a look at possible stumbling blocks or situations that impede you from meeting your goals. Ask yourself:
- Who is your competition?
- Are you and other co-workers trying to get the same job or promotion?
- Is there new technology that your position requires? Can you get up to speed quickly, or will the time required to learn a new technology stop your progress?
- Are you seen as too old or out of touch with current trends?
- Are your skills obsolete?
- Are your personality traits holding you back?
Performing this self SWOT analysis can help you put things into perspective and point out the most important things you can do to improve your chances to grow in a chosen job or career.
When should you perform a personal SWOT analysis?
You can do a SWOT analysis whenever you want to. Are you thinking of changing careers? Do you want a different opportunity in your current organization? Getting ready for a job interview? A self-analysis of your strengths and weaknesses for any of these situations can be beneficial.
When you do the analysis, think of yourself as the product that needs to be sold.
For example, let’s say that you struggle writing performance reviews because you don’t think that anything you do is exceptional. You feel like you are just doing your job. Consider using a SWOT matrix to:
- Identify your strengths that were beneficial to your team or organization. Did an innovation improve performance? Did you meet every deadline or complete tasks early?
- List the weaknesses you want to improve so you can be a better asset. Do you need to attend training to improve writing skills? Are you current on HTML5 programming skills?
- Write down the opportunities or goals you want to work on in the coming year to improve your position in the department or to move into a new role.
- Identify the threats that may be in your way as you work toward your goals. Present ideas and a plan to help you overcome these threats.
Performing a self-analysis in this way can help you get that raise or promotion that you deserve.
How can Lucidchart help?
Lucidchart has several SWOT analysis templates you can choose from, or you can easily create your own document in just a few minutes. Any document you create can be accessed at any time from anywhere as you need it. If you are looking for feedback on your personal SWOT analysis, you can very easily share it with family and friends so they can add notes and comments to help you improve your assessment.
Sign up for Lucidchart today to get started.