Posts

Many people are kicking off the New Year with a career transition. Whether you are looking to advance in your current job or switch to a different career track, you might find it useful to conduct a personal SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

Consider Your Core Values

But before we jump into that, take a moment to assess your Core Values—what it is that matters to you in your current career. These should be broad ideals, not necessarily specific to your current job. For example, I like being able to make a difference. In my work as a video producer, I’m able to do this by telling important stories. But if I wanted to make a career shift, I could look at other jobs that don’t involve video, but still have making a difference as a core value. What are the values that make you tick? Jot down at least two.

Identify Your Strengths

Now, consider your strengths in two categories—those that help you in your chosen field, and those “soft skills” that could help you advance in any career.  For example, if you are a video editor, your strengths might include being able to learn a new editing software quickly. This strength can go in both columns, because your ability to upskill and apply new capabilities to improving your job is a talent that you can apply to any job. Another strength might be the ability to complete work under tight deadlines. In other words, you are good at time management. This is a soft skill that can apply to multiple careers. Make a two-column list of your top 5 strengths and identify which are unique to your current job, and which can be applied more broadly to other work opportunities.

Define Your Weaknesses

I like to think of these as personal challenges to overcome. Mine include being impatient with people who might take longer than I do to come to a decision. What are your challenges? Some common ones include Imposter Syndrome—feeling like you aren’t the expert you really are in your chosen field.  Or perhaps you are risk-averse. This can be a strength, particularly if you are in a field such as accounting. But if you are an entrepreneur, not being willing to try new markets or products can be an obstacle to success.  Identify at least 5 of your top weaknesses or challenges. Consider what tools you might have for overcoming those challenges. Strategies can include finding a mentor in a particular area of interest, joining a professional organization in order to transition to a new market, or taking an online course to improve your skills.

List Threats

I know, it’s out of order for the acronym. But I like to list threats before heading to opportunities. Threats can exist within your organization. Or they can occur outside, in the economic ecosystem. Occasionally a single threat can affect both. I think we can all agree that the Coronavirus created a massive external threat that affected many internal business systems, including funding and staffing.  More common threats might be managing your time when a company has a heavy meetings culture. Or working in a field such as energy that is going through a major transformation, which could eliminate your job.  List your top three threats.

Find Opportunities

Now you see why I wanted the Strengths, Weaknesses, and Threats listed first.  You can now be thinking about opportunities that maximize your strengths, help you avoid or conquer threats, and give you the chance to overcome your weaknesses. Relocating might be a solution for a market that is saturated with too many employees with your skill set.

Tools

If you’re someone who likes to use apps to visualize your work, here are some tools to use for your SWOT exercise:

http://creately.com/SWOT-Analysis-Software

https://www.gliffy.com/

http://www.wikiwealth.com/swot-analysis-generator

You might also enjoy Jim Collins terrific book Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck–Why Some Thrive Despite Them All.

Whether you write them on a napkin or make a jazzy chart, stay focused on your Core Values and then assess your SWOT. It’s a great way to kick off a successful New Year.

 

Amy DeLouise is a digital media entrepreneur who often leads business workshops and has authored a number of business and digital media courses on LinkedIn Learning.

Upskilling is vital. If you are seeking a job, ensuring your business is nimble, or tackling a career challenge, upskilling will be an essential part of your new year. Here’s why.

If you run a business

Upskilling employees is cheaper than replacing them.  

According to Gallup, replacing an employee is expensive:  from one-half to two times the employee’s annual salary. And that’s probably a low estimate. When you lose an employee, you lose their relationships with customers and their knowledge of critical systems and workflows. A better investment is upskilling them on what they need to succeed.

Upskilling can help you diversify your team. Women and especially women of color lost significant ground during the pandemic.  Even prior to the crisis, progress toward parity between men and women in technical roles had been falling steadily.  Upskilling has been shown to improve diversity in leadership ranks, which is not only the right thing to do but also improves the bottom line. Be sure to make advancement learning available to ALL employees, of every race and gender as well as people with differing learning styles.

Technology is speeding up. And yet half of executives feel that a lack of familiarity with technology is a barrier to digitally transforming their companies.  A global survey of 4,300 managers and executives shows that 90% of workers feel they need to update their skills annually just to keep up. This is one area where retraining can help.

If you downsized your business during the pandemic, upskilling your workforce can help you gain relevance.  According to McKinsey, “to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis, companies should start reskilling their workforces now.” Two researchers from the Aspen Institute say adding skills is the only way workers taking on new roles in downsized companies will be able to function: upskilling “is a lifeline that turns an overwhelmed and unprepared employee into one with the knowledge and skills to take on new tasks confidently and capably.”

If you are a worker…

Upskilling is essential if you want to move up.  Employees can take on new leadership roles when they add new knowledge and skills. With all the remote learning opportunities available, it’s great to know that e-learning boost retention by 25 to 60% (as opposed to 8-10% with traditional training).

You need tech skills for the distance economy.  In 2017, the McKinsey Global Institute estimated that as many as 375 million workers—or 14 percent of the global workforce—would have to switch occupations or acquire new skills by 2030 because of automation and artificial intelligence. One Brookings study found that the share of jobs requiring a high level of digital skills more than tripled—to encompass nearly a quarter of all jobs— between 2002 and 2016.  And the share of jobs requiring AI skills has grown 4.5X since 2013. The benefits of digital transformation are everywhere, from improving customer engagement and revenue to boosting employee morale.

Adding a certification to help you do your job better and get better pay. Workers with certifications such as PMP (Project Management Professional) earn more than their non-certified counterparts. According to one study, PMP’s earn 22 percent higher salaries than their non-certified peers across 42 countries.

If you are self-employed, now is the time to increase your learning. And you may even get tax deduction for the cost.  In addition to improving digital skills, consider what knowledge will make you better at running your small business. For example, there are loads of great courses in everything from public speaking to accounting on LinkedIn Learning.

 

Amy DeLouise owns a digital media company and helps people improve their digital and entrepreneurial skills with courses on LinkedIn Learning.