SWOT Analysis- a tool for career management

SWOT Analysis

SWOT Analysis has been around since the 1960s, but if like me you did not do commercial subject at Secondary School, then you probably don't know much about this tool.

Fortunately I have had several encounters with SWOT analysis and I hope I can convince you to use it for your personal career development.

SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Businesses use it to map their direction in the vast landscape of opportunities.

If one knows their strengths, they can exploit them, if you know your weaknesses you can work on them or navigate around them, opportunities are what we can exploit with our strengths and threats are those forces in the external environment that can derail us because of our weaknesses!

You can easily see how SWOT analysis can be used to plan your career strategy.

Below are some example questions which you need to ask yourself as you fill in your SWOT template.


  • What are the skills you have?
  • What experience do you have?
  • What are your talents?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • Values can also come into play here.
  • What access to unique resources do you have? This maybe financial or mentorship or other resources.
  • Assess your character and emotional strength.
  • How wide is your business network?

Strengths are a bit easier to identify than weaknesses. The above questions are not exhaustive, you can add your own to them. Being objective is key when you do a SWOT analysis. If you lie to yourself then you are going to get lost and drive into the wild!


If you have been in several interviews then you have probably met the questions: Tell us your strengths? Candidates usually answer this question easily. Then comes: What are your weaknesses? I have been on both sides of the table at different times and I can tell you: this question throws many candidates off balance!


Here are some questions that can help:

  • What do you hesitate or avoid doing?
  • What does your teacher, boss, workmates dislike about your work ethic?
  • What are the gaps in your skills?
  • What are your character challenges?
  • Weak networking skills?

In the interviews candidates tend to throw weaknesses that are disguised strengths like, "I work too hard and rarely take time for myself". Do not do that in this SWOT analysis which is strictly for yourself and no one else. Bluntly identify your weaknesses and work on them!


Whereas Strengths and Weaknesses deal with the internal environment, opportunities and weaknesses deal with the external environment.

One challenge we often have is we tend to assess opportunities in terms of "what's making the big money out there?", instead of doing this assessment relative to our Strengths and Weaknesses. Something is only an opportunity if YOU can exploit it. This is why, given nearly the same circumstances, one will succeed and another will fail. If everyone is rushing to do Broilers, then your opportunity may be in selling the day old chicks or in making the chicken feed. Know your opportunity in any given situation, do not be driven by peer pressure, your career is your own!

Opportunities can often be identified by asking yourself:

  • What problems do you obsess about? If you can provide a solution there, that may be an opportunity.
  • What new trends are emerging? Can you fit in somewhere? How can you uniquely position yourself into that trend?
  • Your current location can provide an opportunity.

In career terms, if you can acquire a rare combination of skills, jobs and other career opportunities can look for you! These days advertising jobs in newspapers is no longer popular. Just imagine how many CVS and applications come in when a post is advertised, how do you stand out? The more popular way is to use online databases such as LinkedIn or employment agencies. Know the opportunities you are targeting then build up your strengths towards that opportunity. Put your strengths online so that they are widely visible. We live in a global economy.


  • Know the negative trends in your career-line.
  • Are there any new technologies that will make your current skillset obsolete?
  • Is the economy on a downward spiral? How will you adapt?
  • How much competition is in your chosen field?
  • Are you aware of the massive move towards freelancing of services online? Your competitor can be anywhere in the world.


Recently a friend who is a senior manager somewhere remarked that he was  surprised at the number of Zimbabwean citizens who were sending their CVs via express shipping from different countries. Yep, that's how competitive the job market is!

Way back in 2008 I registered my CV with a certain international agency, they still send me emails and for some years I have noticed some ads for jobs in Zimbabwe targeted at those in the diaspora. Many companies value international experience. 

As the Zimbabwean Economy picks up be assured that there will be fierce competition for job and other career opportunities.

You must uniquely position yourself. Volunteer for projects to build your experience and skills. Online volunteering is very useful for gaining experience beyond national borders without having to leave the country! Do courses for specific skills. Become so competent that anywhere where you go you will be an asset!

Author: Edmore Munedzimwe


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