During the first 3 weeks of the class we studied some tools of strategic analysis–tools that help businesses understand their external environments and internal capabilities. In chapter 2, the five forces helped us understand possible threats to a business—entry, rivalry, substitutes, and the power of suppliers and buyers. Generic industry structure helped us identify possible opportunities- consolidation, first-mover advantages, product refinement, leadership, harvest, divestment, etc.Chapter 3 focused on internal capabilities. The VRIO framework helped us learn to identify strengths and weaknesses of a business. If a resources or capability is valuable (it can exploit an opportunity or minimize a weakness) then it is a strength. If not, then it is a weakness.These chapters basically gave us the tools to conduct a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis.Since I work in Career Services, I’m also interested in the SWOT analysis as a career development tool. A career development SWOT can help you prepare for interviews plus identify areas to target to make yourself a stronger job candidate. Employers are much more likely to hire people with a good understanding of strengths they bring to the table and areas they can improve.With this in mind, let’s do a career development SWOT. Post your career strengths, weaknesses, opportunities & threats. Here are some guidelines to help.These are guidelines to help you start thinking about each category. You don’t necessarily have to answers each question. Just use them to prime your thinking.StrengthsWhat advantages do you have that others don’t have (for example, skills, certifications, education, or connections)?What do you do better than anyone else?What personal resources can you access?What do other people see as your strengths?Which of your achievements are you most proud of?What values do you believe in that others fail to exhibit?Are you part of a network that no one else is involved in? If so, what connections do you have with influential people?Consider this from your own perspective, and from the point of view of the people around you. And don’t be modest or shy – be as objective as you can.And if you have any difficulty with this, write down a list of your personal characteristics. Some of these will hopefully be strengths!WeaknessesWhat tasks do you usually avoid because you don’t feel confident doing them?What will the people around you see as your weaknesses?Are you completely confident in your education and skills training? If not, where are you weakest?What are your negative work habits (for example, are you often late, are you disorganized, do you have a short temper, or are you poor at handling stress)?Do you have personality traits that hold you back in your field? For instance, if you have to conduct meetings on a regular basis, a fear of public speaking would be a major weakness.Think about these from a professional/career perspective. These are weaknesses you might mention in an interview, not ones you would tell a therapist! OpportunitiesWhat new technology can help you? Or can you get help from others or from people via the Internet?Is your industry growing? If so, how can you take advantage of the current market?Do you have a network of strategic contacts to help you, or offer good advice?If you are currently working, what trends (management or otherwise) do you see in your company, and how can you take advantage of them?Are any of your competitors failing to do something important? If so, can you take advantage of their mistakes?Is there a need in your company or industry that no one is filling?Do your customers or vendors complain about something in your company? If so, could you create an opportunity by offering a solution?You might find useful opportunities in the following:Networking events, educational classes, or conferences.A colleague going on an extended leave. Could you take on some of this person’s projects to gain experience?A new role or project that forces you to learn new skills, like public speaking or international relations.A company expansion or acquisition. Do you have specific skills (like a second language) that could help with the process?TIP–Look at your strengths, and ask yourself whether these open up any opportunities – and look at your weaknesses, and ask yourself whether you could open up opportunities by eliminating those weaknesses.Threats(if you don’t work, think about these from a job seekers perspective)What obstacles do you currently face at work?Is your job (or the demand for the things you do) changing?Does changing technology threaten your position?Could any of your weaknesses lead to threats?Performing this analysis will often provide key information – it can point out what needs to be done and put problems into perspective.A Career Development SWOT ExampleHere is an example to give you an idea of what a career development SWOT might look like.StrengthsI’m very creative. I often impress clients with a new perspective on their brands.I communicate well with my clients and team.I have the ability to ask key questions to find just the right marketing angle.I’m completely committed to the success of a client’s brand.WeaknessesI have a strong, compulsive need to do things quickly and remove them from my “to do” list, and sometimes the quality of my work suffers as a result.This same need to get things done also causes me stress when I have too many tasks.I get nervous when presenting ideas to clients, and this fear of public speaking often takes the passion out of my presentations.OpportunitiesOne of our major competitors has developed a reputation for treating their smaller clients poorly.I’m attending a major marketing conference next month. This will allow for strategic networking, and also offer some great training seminars.Our art director will go on maternity leave soon. Covering her duties while she’s away would be a great career development opportunity for me.ThreatsSimon, one of my colleagues, is a much stronger speaker than I am, and he’s competing with me for the art director position.Due to recent staff shortages, I’m often overworked, and this negatively impacts my creativity.The current economic climate has resulted in slow growth for the marketing industry. Many firms have laid off staff members, and our company is considering further cutbacks.The purpose of this discussion board is to help reinforce the components of a SWOT analysis. For those of you in the job market (you’ve started your job search, right?), a career development SWOT can be a valuable tool to help you interview better by more fully understanding what you have to offer. It is also a good way to identify what needs to be done to make yourself a stronger job candidate.Also, make sure you read and comment on classmate’s career SWOT. Reading other SWOT analysis can often help clarify our own.
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