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In a talk with a friend of mine who is a senior manager, he taught me that "you should find the backbone of your career. What is your strength? Is it marketable?".

That's why I plan to do a SWOT on myself. But I am unsure how to start with.

Any advice will be very much appreciated . Tks

Tony

WillDuke's picture

I posted recently about finding your own purpose. What makes you happy. I'd suggest starting there. Once you know what you want, nay need, then you can point your feet in the right direction.

Not what do you want to have.
Not what do you want to do.
Who do you want to BE?

Once you come to grips with who you want, or need, to be, then you can decide what to do. What you do will determine what you have.

If you can' boil down who you want o be in 1 sentence, maybe 2, then you haven't finished yet.

Once you have finished. Review yourself like a recruiter would. Start with your resume. That's the summary of your career.

mptully's picture

I have done a SWOT on my personal research portfolio a couple of times and found it to be a really worthwhile exercise.

The strengths’ and weaknesses’ analyses are about you (and can highlight where you need to focus training and self development etc); the opportunities’ and threats’ analyses about other people or external circumstances (e.g. current government policy that has an impact etc). Sometimes those other people can be colleagues in the department; sometimes they are competitors in other institutions. I found that the latter really highlights where I need to focus on my networking opportunities.

I thought that the slides for the SWOT podcasts were really helpful. When I was reviewing my SWOT a few months ago, I just translated ‘us’ or ‘our’ to ‘me’ or ‘my’ on the slides. For the ‘personnel analysis’, again I just did this for me (except the hiring and firing bit – I am still intact thankfully!). It gave me an additional perspective to think about how I interacted with myself and others.

The podcasts also suggested starting with the opportunities and threats (for the business unit) and that might also be a good place to start for a personal SWOT. Unless you are quite insightful as to what motivates and drives you, the strengths and weakness bit can be a bit overwhelming. Doing the other two first gives you a quick win.

Mary

skwanch's picture

my favorite personal development / goalsetting exercise comes from Covey's 7 Habits...

Imagine your own funeral. Imagine your coworkers, friends, and family there. Imagine what you hope each person will say about you - this is your own personal definition of success.

Never found anything near as powerful as that visualisation.

jhack's picture

The book, "In Transition - From the Harvard Business School Club of New York's Career Management Seminar" by Mary L. Burton (available on Amazon), contains a great set of exercises. The point of view is that of understanding you (the product) and your market (career opportunities).

John

tonys's picture

Tks all for the reply.

I think this is an very important excercise to keep yourself clear where you are and where you are going.

Still a little confused about how to do. I hope there will be a podcast about it in the future.

Tony

tomas's picture

A SWOT is really just an analysis of a given situation broken down into 2 different dimensions:
[list][*]Positive V Bad
[*]External versus internal[/list:u]

It provides a nice way of getting a handle on all of the different variables you identify. Rather than just having a big list of "stuff" you break it down across these dimensions and end up with 4 categories:
[list][*]Strengths (positive/internal)
[*]Weaknesses (negative/internal)
[*]Opportunities (positive/external)
[*]Threats (negative/external)[/list:u]
Doing this helps to identify the relationship between internal factors you can control and external factors that you cannot. Thinking about it some more, there also seems to be an element of time in relation to the opportunities and threats as these tend to relate to changing conditions over time.

You can start off by listing personal strengths such as education and experience. Weaknesses might be areas where you feel your skills are lacking. You also look at personality tests (such as DISC) which should identify the typical strengths and weaknesses for your personality type.

The external analysis would consist of looking at your industry/career and trying to identify the major trends and changes that are occurring or are likely to occur. You then try to determine what you need to do in order to take advantage of the opportunities and mitigate the threats, or equally which ones to ignore.

A SWOT isn't the only way to analyse your career, and won't really help you to work out what is important to you. I like skwanch's funeral suggestion in that regard.

tonys's picture

Hi tomas, tks for the brief description. I got more ideas about SWOT on career development.

For the funeral suggestion, any more details to share? To me, it only help me to set a clear ultimate goal, but fail to help me to determine what I should do now.

Tks
TOny

juliahhavener's picture

Tony,

At the end of your life, what do you want to be remembered for? Are those things you are doing now? If not, what is your next step to accomplish those things? The first is your long-term goal, the last is what you need to do NOW to get there.

jhack's picture

The book, "In Transition - From the Harvard Business School Club of New York's Career Management Seminar" by Mary L. Burton (available on Amazon), contains a great set of exercises, including details on how to write your eulogy.

Really, if you want to do a SWOT analysis on you and your career, this book is a great resource.

John

tonys's picture

Tks Julia,

I spent whole night and this morning to think about the question you asked me. However I got an irrelevant answer: After I die, I want to be a nice family man, a good friend to share up and down, a good colleagues and boss in people's memory. A friend that no one will feel regret to make, the best husband, dad, son who loves them so much. Of course I want to be a CEO of a MNC, but I will feel shame if people just memorise me as a CEO in my funeral.

It is not useful, right? Then I started thinking about what I want to be at the point when I retire. Will I be satisfied if I am a:

- Manager/ senior manager? probably not.
- Head of a department? sounds good.
- Director or Vice President? Very satisfied.
- CEO? Perfect!!!

I guess my answer is too vague. But being a CEO of BCG, P&G or a Kraft or even GE and AIG make no difference to me... The general business management and leadership skills still apply. I am clear that I do not want to be too technical. I want to be in commercial field (not non-profit organisation or government). I like working with people, strategic thinking, improving company performance, achieving business objectives.

You know what? I feel shame that after graudated for 5 yrs. I am still not 100% clear about my goal. I always think it is the best to have a clear goal, and then work hard to achieve that.

Tony

tonys's picture

[quote="jhack"]The book, "In Transition - From the Harvard Business School Club of New York's Career Management Seminar" by Mary L. Burton (available on Amazon), contains a great set of exercises, including details on how to write your eulogy.

Really, if you want to do a SWOT analysis on you and your career, this book is a great resource.

John[/quote]

Tks John, I will go and find that book today.

juliahhavener's picture

Tony, you said:

[quote]I spent whole night and this morning to think about the question you asked me. However I got an irrelevant answer: After I die, I want to be a nice family man, a good friend to share up and down, a good colleagues and boss in people's memory. A friend that no one will feel regret to make, the best husband, dad, son who loves them so much. Of course I want to be a CEO of a MNC, but I will feel shame if people just memorise me as a CEO in my funeral. [/quote]

How will other people recognize you as a nice family man? How will your friends recognize you as a good one? What makes a good colleague? A good boss?

Just like feedback doesn't revolve around 'being' but rather 'doing', so does this exercise (which makes it harder). I have a skewed opinion on some things, but here's my take:

A good family man: prioritizes his family's needs when making decisions, is present in their lives on a daily basis, knows what makes his family members happy and strives to help them meet those things.

A good friend: is someone who can be counted on when times are good and bad, someone who will listen or act depending on the need, someone who can be trusted (lots of behaviors make up this one!).

A good colleague: is someone who I can ask for help, someone who will give me honest feedback, someone I can offer help to without offending, and someone who is willing to be a part of the team (co-workers), someone who can be trusted, someone that stays in my personal network long after we no longer work together daily.

A good boss: is someone who works for me and with me, someone interested/understanding my world, someone I can learn from, someone who will coach me, someone who gives me the time I need to succeed, someone who "has my back".

Most of those things are things you 'do' that make up who you 'be'. They can be broken down even further into concrete behaviors, but I'm hoping this will give you an idea of what I'm thinking when I ask that question.

wendii's picture

Tony,

5 years after I graduated I was still temping and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life! In todays world it's not uncommon to have 3 or more careers anyway - what you decide now, may not be what you are doing in 10 years time.

It's also common that the things you want from your life are not career orientated - after all, as is often said, few people wish they spent more time at the office when on their deathbed.

Another book recommendation - Marcus Buckingham's Go put your strengths to work which is about how to put more of what you enjoy into your work.

Wendii

dmbaldwin's picture

I guess my thoughts resonate with Julia's. Here are the questions I ask people that are working on this area of their lives:

-- What is a burden you carry?
-- What is a dream you have?
-- What vision do you have?
-- If you throw away all the excuses what are you really passionate about?
-- At the moments that you really feel alive, what are you doing?
-- What would you do for free because you really love doing it?
-- What are some life experiences that make up who you are?

I think that you need to find your mission in life before doing a SWOT analysis on yourself. Then you'll be able to deal with strengths and weaknesses and opportunities.

Does that make sense?

Blessings,

Dave

tonys's picture

[quote="wendii"]Tony,

5 years after I graduated I was still temping and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life! In todays world it's not uncommon to have 3 or more careers anyway - what you decide now, may not be what you are doing in 10 years time.

Wendii[/quote]

Hi Wendii,

Tks for your cheering up. And happy to know that it is not too late.

Tony

asteriskrntt1's picture

I learned this exercise from a very wise man. Take a very large piece of paper and tack it up on a wall. Then draw a circle that takes about 60% of the space of the page.

Inside the circle, list everything you can think of that is unique to you - you are smart, funny, handsome, a good runner, a bad runner.... anything that is unique, positive or negative.

Outside, list everything you can that you can absolutely not be... for example, I know I cannot be an olympic gymnast or a ballet dancer, or an NHL hockey player etc.

When you have done as much as you can, ask five trustworthy people to do this for you as well. Ask them to find 10-15 things to put in your inner circle and five in your outer circle. Add these to your big paper.

After a few days, go back to your inner circle and re-evaluate what is truly unique to you. For example, you may be smart, but what kind of smart? Where do you best apply your smarts? If you are funny, what kind of funny? Keep getting more specific with your truly unique talents.

Usually, after about five iterations of this drill, you can start to see what you are truly gifted at and where you should be focusing yourself.

*RNTT

tonys's picture

Hi Dave,

I tried thinking about the questions you listed. I could not answer some of them. But I know what you mean. I now realise I should focus on my long term goal rather than immediate effects.

Really benefited from that.

Tks
Tony

tonys's picture

[quote="asteriskrntt1"]Outside, list everything you can that you can absolutely not be... for example, I know I cannot be an olympic gymnast or a ballet dancer, or an NHL hockey player etc.

When you have done as much as you can, ask five trustworthy people to do this for you as well. Ask them to find 10-15 things to put in your inner circle and five in your outer circle. Add these to your big paper.

*RNTT[/quote]

Hi RNTT,

I do not fully understand.

What should I put outside the circle?? list everything that I can absolutely not be? e.g. the US President? What is the point of doing that? I beleve y friends will not choose anything from there.

Could you elaborate more also for the second part?

Tks alot
TOny