A SWOT analysis is often used by businesses to give a structure with which to plan for the future by identifying their Strengths and Weaknesses from within and Opportunities and Threats from the outside world. So why not use it to plan your own career strategy?
First think about your Strengths: positive things about you that are under your control and which you can use to your advantage. Ask yourself:
What do you do well? (personal strengths as well as skills)
What unique resources can you draw on? (eg strong technical knowledge, good networking contacts)
What do others see as your strengths?
Then think about your Weaknesses, negative things that are under your control and that you may plan to improve. Ask yourself:
What could you improve? (eg unclear goals, poor self-knowledge)
Where do you have fewer resources than others? (eg lack of work experience)
What are others likely to see as weaknesses?
What are the Opportunities in the job market, ie positive external conditions that you do not control but could use to your advantage?
What opportunities are open to you? (eg gaining more qualifications)
What trends could you take advantage of? (eg growth in a sector of interest)
How can you turn your strengths into opportunities? (eg through effective job search)
Finally, identify Threats, the negative external conditions that you do not control but the effect of which you may be able to lessen:
What threats could harm you? (eg downsizing in your field)
What is your competition doing? (have they better skills or knowledge than you?)
What threats do your weaknesses expose you to?
Doing this should help you to focus on what you need to do to get to where you want to be – just like any business which has valuable products or services to offer.