An Easy Guide to SWOT Analysis of Oneself

SWOT analysis is essential for more than just business management — it can be used on yourself. In fact, it should be used on yourself.

Because a business is only as successful as the team behind it.

So how does SWOT analysis of oneself work?

Instead of examining the strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in business, apply them to yourself.

Starting with goal setting.

Goal Setting is Essential

You absolutely need to set a goal.

Do you want to…

  • Start a career in a specific field?
  • Be the #1 candidate for that upcoming promotion?
  • Get more responsibility from your manager?
  • Start a company or product from scratch?
  • Make better strategic business decisions?
  • Be a better friend/parent/partner?

When doing SWOT analysis of oneself, it doesn’t have to be directly business-related. You’re trying to improve yourself, after all. In all aspects.

And hey, by being a better friend or partner, it’ll translate into your working life too. That’s the benefit of personal development.

So, pick one goal. One goal per SWOT analysis — otherwise, it gets too complicated, clunky, and difficult to manage the information.

Now, it’s analysis time.

Start With the Fun Part: Strengths

Strengths (the ‘S’ in SWOT analysis) is the most enjoyable part. List every single thing that you do well and why you do it well.

Pat your back until your hand hurts.

Then keep track of your strengths. You want everything written down here — you can decide if it’s relevant to your goal later.

Your list can include:

  • Educational background: Where did you go to school? What did you major in? What individual classes did you take that can help you achieve your goal? (Include any internships or apprenticeships too).
  • Past career experience: List every job you’ve had, and the skills you needed to do these jobs well (Do the skills overlap? Why are they necessary to do your job well?).
  • Who do you know? Your network is everything. Is there someone who can help with your goal? References, coworkers or old friends? These people are all strengths.
  • Personality: What traits will reach your goal? Are you outgoing? A good story teller? Able to get to the point quickly? Cringe at being late or missing deadlines?

There are other strengths to put on your list. But with the above points, you’ve got the ball rolling.

The Next (And Harder Part): Weaknesses

No one likes to discuss or think about their weaknesses. But this is crucial to completing the SWOT analysis of yourself. Because weaknesses are holding you back from completing your goals. In fact, it doesn’t matter how many strengths you have if one weakness is destroying all progress.

It won’t feel good doing this, but it’ll help later on.

Expanding upon your weakness is the most important thing. To start, answer:

  • What personality traits are lacking to complete your goal? Why?
  • What education do you lack?
  • Why haven’t you achieved your goal sooner?
  • What negative work habits are holding you back?

It’s important to answer “Why?” throughout the weaknesses category.

Since this can be difficult, ask others to help out. And remember, you’re doing this to cut out obstacles standing in your way.

Recommendation: Do Threats Before Opportunities

It’s smarter to answer threats before opportunities. By doing threats first, you can quickly find “opportunities” to eliminate or reduce the effects of the threats.

You basically kill two birds with one stone.

Threats can be fears that prevent you from reaching your goal.

If you’re looking to switch career fields, you may have multiple threats (fears) such as:

  • Lack of education (to make the switch)
  • Competition (finding jobs against people with 10+ years experience)
  • Lack of funds or reduce of income

How do you combat (or create opportunities) for these threats?

  • Search accurate sources, blogs, or textbooks to supplement education: Keep updated about industry trends and news online.
  • Talk to people in this field and see what advice they can give you. They may be able to point you in the right direction or give you an “in” at a company.
  • Save up before making the switch (if possible) to account for any unemployment time.

As you can see, it’s easier to find opportunities after picking through the threats.

Okay, your goal may not be to change fields. That’s fine. Here are other things to consider in your threats list:

  • Are people trying to prevent you from reaching your goal? Do you know why?
  • Is money an issue? How so?
  • Is location or transportation an issue?
  • Are there not enough hours in the day? If so, what can you change around to help out?

And The Final Part: Opportunities

Opportunities are things you create or act upon to help achieve your goal. Many see opportunities as an external factor you can’t control, but that’s not true. If you identify threats in the SWOT analysis of oneself, you can create opportunities to counteract threats.

What other opportunities exist?

  • Technological: Which technologies can help you reach your goal successfully? You may need to-do lists, email, texting or even online marketing.
  • People: Going back to those contacts, who can you network with to help out?
  • Competition: Who is your competition? Where are they failing? What are they ignoring? How can you use this to your advantage?

Once opportunities are done, you’ve finished the SWOT analysis.

SWOT Analysis Complete: Now What?

You highlighted the strengths necessary to complete your goal. These are your competitive advantages. It’s what helps you stand out. Every business and person should know what their advantage is in any situation.

Select 3 major strengths that’ll greatly influence how and when you achieve your goal. You should highlight these strengths in cover letters or elevator speeches — basically, wherever necessary to complete your goal.

Keep these strengths in your mind while you move towards weaknesses.

With weaknesses recorded, rate them. Which one is absolutely holding you back? And which ones are annoying, but minor inconveniences? You must root out the most impactful weaknesses and make a plan to counteract them.

Now, look at your threats. Hopefully, you were able to create opportunity from each threat listed. The opportunities are going to provoke you into action — they’re mini steps to complete your goal.

If you keep your eye on your weaknesses and monitor your steps towards goal completion, you’ll be in good standing.

No matter your goal, you’re now on track to get it done successfully.

Image: Gustavo Frazao/