Friday, March 8, 2013

Job Seekers: SWOT Now?

By Mary Salvino, Career Coach
A SWOT analysis is an extremely useful tool to help evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of people, places or things.  SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.  A SWOT analysis can also provide a framework for setting strategies and guiding the author of the analysis towards the direction they need to go to in order to achieve their desired goal. 

Step One: Set a SMART SWOT objective:

Secure suitable employment ASAP by completing and revisiting my SWOT (Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats) analysis to validate, adjust and/or address the factors that influence the decision -making powers of hiring managers on a monthly basis.

Step Two: Decide if the objective is SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time-bound).  If the objective does not contain the required SMART elements, the objective will need to be tweaked until it complies.

Step Three:  Set up and populate a SWOT matrix:

Internal Factors
– Can or have been in your control in the past
External Factors
– Out of your control
  • What are competitive advantage[s] can you bring   to potential employers?
    • Education – Qualifications / Certifications?
    • Experience?
    • Marketing Collateral?
  • Why would a potential employer choose another candidate?
    • Geography – Willingness to move?
    • Networking – On-line/Off-line?
  • Social Media Savvy?
  • Brand Management?
  • Work/life balance?
  • Employment market – Supply/demand?
  • Stale references?
*This matrix is a very simple example of one matrix that a job candidate might create when he or she is interested in examining how his or her skill set compares to other candidates.

Step Four: Identify the areas that are not addressed in the matrix and determine if the existing matrix needs to be tweaked or if it is necessary to develop a completely new one.

Step Five: Once a feasible SWOT matrix has been created, it then becomes necessary to develop a plan to implement a practical strategy that will lead to the goal.

SWOT Element
Comment on Current Strategy
To Do
Leveraging Strengths:
-          Maintain, build and/or leverage
-          Can be tangible or intangible
  • Education
- I have the credentials I need to do the job
  • Experience
- I have been doing the job for X amount of time
  • Marketing Collateral
- Targeted résumé
- Targeted cover letter
-  Business cards

Mitigating Weaknesses:
-          Prioritize and optimize
  • Social Media Savvy
- I have a basic understanding of how Search Engine Optimization works
To Do
  • Brand Management
-  Created and use job search alerts
-  Posted my résumé on job sites 
- Opportunities to demonstrate expertise – Blog, website and posting updates on a regular basis
  • Work/life Balance
-  Incorporate regular exercise into my day/week
-  Find and incorporate ways to reduce stress
-  Eat a healthy and balanced diet 
- Treat looking for a job the same way as having a job by consciously working at it 7 hours per day:
           - Create and use a system to search for suitable job opportunities
           - Create and use a system for following up on all job applications

Taking Advantage of Opportunities:
-          Remedy or exit
  • Geography
- Open and free to re-locate if necessary
  • Networking
- Active member of  X number of clubs / organizations

Mitigating Threats:
-          Counter when possible
  • Employment Market
- Update existing skill set
-  Learn new a skill
To Do
To Do
  • Stale References
- Locate/reach out to former colleagues and ask for assistance
Hint One:
None of the factors in a SWOT matrix are definitive.  For example, that which is ‘strength’ with respect to one objective can be identified as a ‘weakness’ with respect to another objective.  

Hint Two:
Well-populated matrices ultimately lead to well-thought out strategies and goals.

"Many people fail in life, not for lack of ability or brains or even courage, but simply because they have never organised their energies around a goal." ~ Elbert Hubbard, American philanthropist 

Copyright © 2013, Career Matters. All Rights Reserved. Show you care and share this article with your colleagues, coworkers and friends. Permission to Reprint: This article may be reprinted, provided it appears in its entirety with the following attribution: Copyright © 2013, Career Matters. Reprinted by permission of the author, Mary Salvino. “Career Matters” is a blog authored by Mary Salvino, the Senior Consultant for SMART Career It is dedicated to those who are seeking advice on managing their career and future career opportunities. If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, please send an e-mail to