“I have career ambitions but I’m not sure how to achieve them? I’m feeling stuck, unsatisfied in my present job. And I want to get a better sense of where my next career move should be. Can you help?”
This is from Sarah, an advertising manager, who is feeling insecure because of changes in her industry which may affect her job security. If you can identify with Sarah, it’s time for a career check-up. One easy way to do this to get away from the hustle and bustle of your job and to SWOT yourself – that is, do an honest personal assessment by focusing on these four areas:
List skills, knowledge and experience you have that make you marketable. Focus on technical and soft skills. Consider your personal qualities, values, past achievements. What advantages do you have that others don’t have? What special resources can you access?
Now list the areas that you can improve. What negative work habits (disorganized, often late or perfectionist) do you have? Are there personal traits (short temper, too talkative or insensitive) that can hold you back in your career?
Let your mind wander to the possibilities that surround you. Is your boss or another manager going to retire? Are new projects or initiatives coming up? Is your industry growing? Do you have strong networks of strategic contacts? Is there a need in your company or industry that you can fulfill?
What can go wrong – a shift in management, budget cuts, downsizing, outsourcing, mergers, acquisitions, your health and even family challenges? Are any of your colleagues competing with you for projects or roles? Is your job changing with unfamiliar responsibilities? Could any of your weaknesses lead to threats?
Here’s Sarah’s personal SWOT:
- Strengths: “I’m very creative. I often impress clients with a new perspective on their brands. I have the ability to ask key questions to find just the right marketing angle.”
- Weaknesses: “I tend to be somewhat of a perfectionist which causes me stress when I have too many tasks. The fear of public speaking often takes the passion out of my presentations to clients.”
- Opportunities: “One of our major competitors has developed a reputation for treating their smaller clients poorly. Our art director will go on maternity leave soon. Covering her duties would be a great career opportunity.”
- Threats: “Mark, one of my colleagues, is a much stronger speaker and he’s competing with me for the art director position. The current economic climate has resulted in slow growth for the marketing industry and there may be layoffs.”
Her Action Plan:
As a result of this analysis, Sarah takes the bold step to suggest that she and Mark share the art director’s job duties while on maternity leave. By working as a team, they can learn from each another, build the department’s reputation of high-quality service to their smaller clients and possibly avoid being given the “pink slip”. It’s a win-win for them and for the company.
Smart Moves Tip
You are most likely to succeed if you use your talents to their fullest. Similarly, you’ll suffer fewer problems if you’re aware of and manage your weaknesses. At the same time, you need to know what threats may upend your career and what opportunities can take you to the next level in your career. That’s the value of doing a SWOT. Also, see Who Controls Your Destiny? and If You Are a High Achiever Watch Out for These Sand traps!
When was the last time you did a personal SWOT? Is it time to do a career check-up to see if you’re on the right track?
What’s Your Specific Challenge?
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