Career Development

How to Use SWOT Analysis to Plan Your Career and Get Hired

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An analytical framework can help you develop a successful approach to career planning. With SWOT analysis, you can identify career options that fit your qualifications and objectives. In this article, you will learn how to use SWOT analysis to plan your career and set professional goals.

What is SWOT analysis?

SWOT analysis is a review of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This technique can clarify your approach to a variety of professional challenges by listing all the pros and cons of a particular situation. When you use this framework, you can make informed decisions to develop a career strategy that fits your skills and experience.

You can create a SWOT analysis by creating a grid with four squares. Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats each get a square, then you fill in the squares with the information you need to make a decision. You can also make a SWOT analysis list.

How to use SWOT analysis for career planning

Follow these steps when creating a SWOT analysis to plan your career:

1. First, separate internal factors from external factors

Before beginning your SWOT analysis, make sure you understand the difference between internal and external factors:

  • Internal factors include strengths and weaknesses and relate to your qualities and experiences
  • External factors include opportunities and threats and involve circumstances beyond your control

For example, you may have experience with a particular software, which is an internal factor. The ability to take a course to learn the latest version of the software is an external factor.

2. Second, consider your professional strengths and qualifications

Write down your education, skills and work history that give you an advantage over other candidates. An extensive work history, technical skills, college degrees and professional certifications are all strengths. Soft skills, such as problem-solving, decision-making and critical thinking, are also strengths.

Other strengths can include the ability to relocate or professional connections in your field.

3. Next, list your weaknesses and areas you could improve upon

Create a list of your disadvantages compared to other candidates. Weaknesses could include needing additional education, certifications or technical skills to be successful in your potential field. Other weaknesses could include limited work availability because of school, the inability to move or a limited professional network.

4. Then, identify professional opportunities in your career

Consider professional opportunities where you can apply your skills and experience. Review job listings and company expansion announcements to determine if there are a lot of openings in your area. Look at the larger trends in the job market and areas of occupational growth that fit your strengths. Consider learning a new technology that might help you distinguish yourself from other candidates.

5. Next, understand threats and risks in your career path

Create a list of the biggest threats to your career path. These factors could include a decreasing job market or increasing competition from qualified candidates. Rapidly evolving technology and policy changes can also be threats if they challenge your qualifications. Consider trends in your potential field, such as companies using more contract employees rather than full-time employees.

6. Last, compare the four SWOT elements to make a decision about your career

Once you have made a list of the four SWOT factors, compare each element. If your strengths outnumber your weaknesses, your field of interest could be an excellent path to pursue. If your weaknesses outweigh your strengths, consider creating a plan to learn additional skills or earn a certification. You could also consider changing your path to fit your current qualifications.

Example of a career planning SWOT analysis 

Reviewing an example of a SWOT analysis can help you frame your own career planning process. This example is for someone who wants to pursue a career as a construction manager:

Strengths

  • I have a valid state contractor’s license, and I am pursuing a bachelor’s degree in construction management.
  • My decision-making skills and ability to motivate teams could make me a strong leader.
  • I completed a construction apprenticeship, giving me two years of on-the-job-training.

Weaknesses

  • I only have three years of experience in construction, while most construction managers have five or more years.
  • I don’t belong to any professional construction organizations in my area.
  • I don’t have formal experience as a manager.

Opportunities

  • All of the top construction companies in my area are hiring for management positions.
  • Analysts predict an 11% growth in construction management jobs in the next 10 years.
  • My construction apprenticeship certification is valid in all states, meaning I can easily relocate.

Threats

  • Government regulations are currently under review, and any changes could mean I’ll have to retake the licensing exam.
  • Two local universities offer construction management degree programs, meaning I could have additional competition.
  • My license is only valid in my current state, so I would have to get a new construction license if I move.

Results

I am already qualified for my field. Joining a construction management organization could help me stay connected and learn more about job opportunities. I could find a mentor who could work with me to develop a long-term career plan. Strong job market growth and numerous local opportunities outweigh the potential threats, so I feel confident in pursuing a career as a construction manager in my area.