How To Create a Personal SWOT Analysis in 5 Steps

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 8 September 2022 | Published 6 August 2021

Updated 8 September 2022

Published 6 August 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When you need to assess a particular subject or decide how to overcome a challenge, it's helpful to visualise all aspects of the situation. Learning how to use a SWOT analysis may help you form logical conclusions as you handle different decisions in your career. It can also help to keep your career goals organised. In this article, we discuss the components of a SWOT analysis, why it's a useful tool and how to create a personal SWOT analysis.

Related: How To Choose a Career Path

How to create a personal swot analysis

A personal SWOT analysis is a tool used to evaluate your career goals. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It considers all factors, whether positive, negative, external or internal. Internal factors are elements you bring to the analysis, such as strengths and weaknesses. External factors are elements outside of you, including opportunities and threats.

To create a standard SWOT analysis, draw a box and separate it into four squares. Each square contains one of the SWOT topics for the situation. Use the squares to make your lists under the different categories. You can include as many items in the squares as you need to form a thorough conclusion. Here are some steps you can follow to create a personal SWOT analysis:

1. List your relevant strengths

Think about the strengths you have that can help you reach your goal. List any traits or skills you have that may set you apart from others. Strengths could be experiences you've had, either at work or in your personal life. You can also list any certifications or qualifications you have. Some things may not seem like strengths until you consider how they affect your goal, like the ability to relocate or specific connections you have.

Listing your goals can give you an idea of what tools you can use and give you more confidence when approaching your goals. It can also help you come up with important points to mention during job interviews. Brainstorm your strengths by thinking about:

  • natural talents

  • activities you devote your time to

  • skills you've chosen to develop or pursue

  • skills you peers or managers have mentioned

Related: Top Tips for Successful Career Progression

2. Review your relevant weaknesses

The top right-hand box is where you can list your weakness. This box is for analysing what you can improve or eliminate to achieve your goal. Be honest about your weaknesses so that you can get an accurate understanding of your position. Think about areas you could improve, like gaining more experience or accomplishing a certification. This section can help you focus on what you can do in the future to bring you closer to your goal.

When listing your weaknesses, think of these prompts:

  • Your worst work habits

  • The training other people in your field have that you lack

  • Areas your peers or supervisors would say you can improve

  • Tasks or circumstances do you struggle with

Related: 10 Valuable Soft Skills That You Need To Succeed in Your Career

3. Define any opportunities available to you

The bottom left box is for opportunities where you might have an advantage. This section can help you consider external factors that can contribute to your goal. For example, if there is a promotion you can pursue or a job opening for which you can apply. Focus on factors you can't control, like market trends, resources or statistics that affect your ability to accomplish your goal. Understanding how the environment may affect your ability to accomplish your goal can give you some perspective on what steps are available.

The following subjects can help you brainstorm potential opportunities:

  • Market trends

  • Strength of the economy

  • Your industry's projected job growth in the future

  • Recent disruptions within your industry

Related: How To Develop Your Skill Set for Career Success

4. Understand any potential threats

The bottom right box is to list potential threats that stop you from reaching your goal. Think about external factors that could negatively impact your situation, like a weak job market or strong competition. Understanding what threatens your goals can help you gain realistic expectations for what it will take to accomplish them. This can help you create a more effective plan. Consider the following to determine outside threats to your goals:

  • Recent trends in your industry that may put you at a disadvantage

  • Competition in your field

  • The biggest threat to your goals

  • Anything that could discourage you from completing your goal

Related: What is an Unconscious Incompetence?

5. Make an informed decision

Once you've drawn up your SWOT diagram, the next step is analysing your lists by comparing them. Count how many items are in each box to see if the threats outweigh the opportunities, or whether the strengths outweigh the weaknesses. Match your strengths to your opportunities to see your likelihood of successfully taking advantage of an opportunity. You can also match your strengths to your threats to measure your ability to overcome them. If you find that your weaknesses outweigh your strengths and opportunities, devise ways to improve your standing to better prepare yourself to accomplish your goals.

Once you've considered all aspects of your position, you can make an informed plan to move forward toward accomplishing your personal goal.

Related: What Are Critical Thinking Skills and How Are They Used?

Tips for creating your SWOT analysis

Here are some tips for creating your SWOT analysis:

Be clear

Your SWOT analysis creates a more complete picture if you're clear and detailed about each list item. Your personalised SWOT analysis can help you get an accurate and full picture of your assets and challenges, so be honest about each list item. For example, instead of saying, 'I am smart,' you can list, 'I graduated with distinction from a prestigious university.'

Brainstorm

Think about each section and brainstorm for list items. Thinking of one item can remind you of another one you can list. Your SWOT analysis can benefit from having a broad range of items listed. Consider asking your friends for suggestions because other people may see things about you that you don't recognise, especially when listing internal factors. For example, a friend may notice that you're an organised person compared to most, even if you don't recognise that as a skill.

Revisit your analysis

Once you've created your SWOT analysis, give yourself some time before you revisit it. Focusing on something else for a while can give you a new perspective on items you may have missed or judged incorrectly. You can also return to your SWOT analysis multiple times throughout your journey toward accomplishing your goal. Seeing what threats you've overcome or how many weaknesses you've turned into strengths can help you measure your progress.

You can continuously update your analysis with changes in the market or industry or when you get new qualifications. This way, you can consistently monitor your position regarding your goal.

Related: Problem-Solving Skills: Definitions and Examples

Example of a SWOT analysis

Amelia just graduated from university and wants to create a SWOT analysis before searching for personal trainer positions. Here are the sections of her personal SWOT analysis:

Strengths

  • Bachelor's degree in sports medicine

  • Level 2 Gym Instructor qualification

  • Level 3 Personal Trainer qualification

  • Registered with the Registry of Exercise Professionals

  • Passion for helping clients

Weaknesses

  • Difficulty developing training plans for swimmers

  • Find it challenging to compete for clients

  • Limited sales and marketing experience

Opportunities

  • Offer a variety of training sessions

  • Attend a sales or marketing workshop

  • Attend specialised training courses

  • Room for career advancement

Threats

  • Competition for clients among other personal trainers in the area

  • Others may be more confident with the sales aspect

Amelia now has a SWOT list she can review to decide how she can boost her job search. She has the education and certification to be a personal trainer, but her major challenges are sales and signing on new clients. If she wants to pursue as many opportunities as possible, she can take a sales workshop to improve her skills. She can avoid sales by working for a gym that assigns new clients to personal trainers, but it would limit her job search opportunities.

After carefully reviewing her analysis, Amelia searches for all available opportunities. Learning a new skill can help her with long-term success. She signs up for an online sales class to gain more knowledge while she searches, and she lists it on her CV.

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