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Predict future career challenges with a SWOT analysis

Set yourself for 2015!

Predict future career challenges with a SWOT analysis


By Mark Swartz
By Monster Contributing Writer

Life moves quickly and it’s hard to plan ahead. Same for careers. Handling the daily grind can easily get you stuck in a rut. Who has time to anticipate the future?
Problem is, if you don’t survey the bigger picture once in a while, you’ll constantly be reacting. Every problem that springs up will be like handling an alarm. Meanwhile opportunities get missed while you’re busy putting out fires.
That’s a recipe for burnout, not career success. Smart employees manage their professional lives proactively. They assess future opportunities and threats. Then evaluate how to best apply their own strengths and weaknesses.
A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) Analysis is the tool of choice for conducting this appraisal. It’s a practical compliment to your custom career plan.
The Essence Of A SWOT Analysis
Here’s how it works. Say that you’re thinking about the year ahead. There are certain goals you’d like to accomplish at work.
A SWOT Analysis focuses your thinking on what else might arise. Start by identifying potential career Opportunities and Threats. Maybe your workplace mentor has mentioned a promotion will be available soon. That could be a wonderful Opportunity. Or there’s rumours the company may need to downsize. This is a possible Threat.
Whatever the Opportunity or Threat or, your Strengths and Weaknesses will influence your ability to prosper. By predicting the future you can arm yourself to exploit changing circumstances. You also set yourself up to speak knowledgeably at your performance review.
Internal Versus External Elements
Threats and Opportunities are external, in that they occur outside of you. If the economy expands and demand for your services increases, that’s an external event.
Strengths and Weakness are internal. They’re based on such things as your skills, knowledge, contacts, ability to withstand shocks financially, and personality attributes.
When peering into the future, both external and internal elements should be addressed. You’ll gain a more complete planning picture this way.
Predicting Future Opportunities
Your professional goals determine what constitutes an Opportunity or Threat. For instance, you may decide that over the next 12 months you’d like to increase your salary by at least 10%.
Any occasion to do so would qualify as an Opportunity. So try to forecast events that might fall into this category, such as possible…
·         Raises, promotions and bonuses
·         Transfers to other departments or roles internally that pay more
·         Jobs at other employers that offer higher compensation
·         Moonlighting opportunities such as second jobs and private gigs (if allowable)
Anticipating Threats
A Threat is something that might interfere with your ability to accomplish your goal. These must be incorporated into a proper self-assessment. As an example, you may be seeking to reduce your work responsibilities for the next year while you take care of a family member. Threats to this objective might include:
·         Staff reductions that would leave you with added responsibilities
·         A new boss you’ll have to prove yourself to
·         Backstabbing co-workers who’d pounce when you start to leave work earlier
·         New projects or customers that would require that you stay later
Identifying Your Relevant Strengths
Anything that can help you exploit an Opportunity or manage a Threat is a Strength. This becomes apparent when you look at the examples above.
Like if you’re thinking about boosting your salary next year, and you’ve heard that a promotion will be available sometime soon. You’ll want to examine your strengths in vying for this specific Opportunity. Do you have an “in” with the deciding Manager? Can you get involved in projects that will highlight your initiative and competence?
Pinpointing Your Pertinent Weaknesses
In a similar vein, personal Weaknesses get in the way of meeting challenges or openings head on. Consider the case of wanting to reduce your workload to help take care of a family member.
Your boss has announced they’ll be leaving within the next six months. This poses a Threat to your goal. At some point you’ll need to show the new supervisor that you’re dedicated and valuable. But if you don’t have a support system set up at home to help you deal with the family member in question, that’s a Weakness. It means you’ll be strained on all fronts. Detecting this problem in advance lets you begin formulating solutions now. 

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