Personal SWOT Analysis In A Nutshell

The SWOT analysis is commonly used as a strategic planning tool in business. However, it is also well suited for personal use in addressing a specific goal or problem. A personal SWOT analysis helps individuals identify their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Personal SWOT AnalysisDescriptionAnalysisImplicationsApplicationsExamples
1. Key Elements (KE)Personal SWOT Analysis is a self-assessment tool used to evaluate an individual’s internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as external opportunities and threats. It helps individuals gain insights into their personal and professional development.– Identify and assess internal strengths, such as skills, knowledge, and attributes. – Identify and assess internal weaknesses, such as areas for improvement and development. – Identify and assess external opportunities, including career prospects, networking, and external support. – Identify and assess external threats, such as challenges, competition, and market trends.– Offers a comprehensive view of an individual’s current situation and potential growth areas. – Helps individuals make informed decisions about their career, education, and personal development. – Encourages self-awareness and proactive planning.– Career development and planning. – Educational goal setting and self-improvement planning. – Personal development and self-awareness exercises.Key Elements Example: An individual’s strengths may include strong communication skills and project management abilities, while weaknesses could be limited technical knowledge. Opportunities may include the availability of industry certifications, and threats may involve industry disruption due to technological advancements.
2. Internal Strengths (S)Internal strengths are the positive attributes, qualities, skills, knowledge, and experiences that an individual possesses. These strengths contribute to personal and professional success and growth.– Identify and list internal strengths, including skills, achievements, education, and personal qualities. – Assess the relevance and significance of each strength in achieving personal goals and overcoming challenges. – Consider feedback from peers, mentors, or self-assessment to identify strengths accurately.– Recognizes personal strengths and their role in achieving career and personal objectives. – Provides a foundation for building on existing strengths and leveraging them for success. – May involve enhancing and refining strengths through training and development.– Career advancement planning and job interviews. – Personal development and self-improvement strategies. – Networking and relationship building.Internal Strengths Example: A marketing professional’s strengths may include strong analytical skills, proficiency in data analysis software, and effective communication abilities, which are essential for creating data-driven marketing campaigns.
3. Internal Weaknesses (W)Internal weaknesses are areas where an individual may have limitations, gaps in knowledge or skills, or personal traits that hinder personal or professional development. Recognizing and addressing weaknesses is crucial for growth and improvement.– Identify and list internal weaknesses, including areas of skill improvement, knowledge gaps, and personal characteristics that may hinder progress. – Prioritize weaknesses based on their impact on personal and professional goals. – Develop strategies for addressing or mitigating weaknesses, such as seeking education or training, seeking mentorship, or setting improvement goals.– Acknowledges areas for improvement and growth. – Encourages proactive steps to address weaknesses and mitigate their impact. – Helps individuals set realistic goals for self-improvement and development.– Personal development plans and strategies. – Skill enhancement and training programs. – Seeking mentorship and guidance to overcome weaknesses.Internal Weaknesses Example: An individual may recognize a weakness in public speaking, which hinders their ability to present ideas effectively. To address this, they may enroll in a public speaking course and practice regularly to improve their communication skills.
4. External Opportunities (O)External opportunities are favorable circumstances or external factors that an individual can leverage to achieve personal or professional goals. Identifying and capitalizing on opportunities can lead to growth and advancement.– Identify and list external opportunities, such as job openings, industry trends, networking events, or educational programs. – Evaluate the potential impact and relevance of each opportunity in relation to personal goals. – Develop strategies for taking advantage of opportunities, such as job applications, skill development, or participation in relevant events.– Explores avenues for personal and career growth outside of current circumstances. – Encourages proactive planning to seize opportunities as they arise. – Enhances awareness of external factors that can contribute to success and achievement of goals.– Job searches and career planning. – Exploring educational and professional development pathways. – Networking and attending industry conferences or events.External Opportunities Example: An individual may identify an opportunity to attend an industry conference that focuses on emerging technologies in their field. This opportunity can enhance their knowledge and networking connections, potentially leading to career advancement.
5. External Threats (T)External threats are external factors or challenges that may pose obstacles or risks to an individual’s personal or professional objectives. Identifying and understanding potential threats allows for proactive mitigation and preparation.– Identify and list external threats, such as economic downturns, industry competition, changing market dynamics, or external challenges. – Assess the potential impact and likelihood of each threat on personal and professional goals. – Develop strategies or contingency plans to mitigate the effects of threats and minimize risks.– Enables individuals to anticipate and prepare for potential challenges and setbacks. – Promotes resilience and adaptability in the face of external pressures. – Encourages proactive measures to mitigate threats and reduce their impact.– Career risk management and contingency planning. – Business planning and risk assessment for entrepreneurs. – Adapting to changing market conditions and industry challenges.External Threats Example: An individual in a competitive job market may recognize the threat of job instability due to industry automation. To address this, they may invest in acquiring additional skills to remain competitive and adaptable to changing job requirements.

Understanding a personal SWOT analysis

Indeed, individuals can adapt the SWOT analysis to:

  • Assist in personal development and career progression. 
  • Prepare for job interviews.
  • Successfully transition from one industry to another.

Conducting a personal SWOT analysis

When conducting a personal SWOT analysis, the information must be as unbiased as possible.

For example, some individuals may overstate their strengths while understating their weaknesses.

Wherever possible, consult friends or colleagues for their opinions.

While their opinions can also be biased, this can be counteracted by interviewing as many people as possible and identifying common themes. Independent market research can also be incorporated to strengthen the integrity of the analysis further.

Then, create a SWOT diagram with four boxes. Each box represents:


What skill set do you bring to the table?

Consider your qualifications, experience, achievements, personal skills, and any industry contacts or leads. 


What are your professional bad habits or shortcomings? Do you struggle with public speaking, or do you tend to call in sick often?

What skills or qualifications are lacking or have expired? In identifying weaknesses, be honest and thorough.

Each weakness represents an avenue for potential growth.


Who are the movers and shakers in your industry and how can you position yourself in front of them? What trends can you foresee? Will these trends create job vacancies?


What are the obstacles you are currently facing? How is your role or broader industry changing?

Could automation or increased competition affect your job security?

Threats also take the form of ambitious or vocal colleagues who have the potential to outcompete you for promotions.

Determining personal SWOT analysis outcomes

In evaluating the results, there are two popular methods.

The first is matching, where two categories are matched to outline a course of action.

Strengths matched with opportunities show you were to seize the moment and be aggressive.

Conversely, weaknesses matched with threats identify vulnerabilities that you should avoid or work on proactively.

The second method involves turning negatives into positives.

How can weaknesses be turned into strengths or threats into opportunities?

For example, an extroverted individual who accepts an entry-level position with little human interaction may initially see extroversion as a weakness.

However, they identify a sales position within the same company and work aggressively toward being hired for a role where extroversion is a strength.

Personal SWOT analysis examples

Here are a few personal SWOT analysis examples in different contexts.

Business management student

First, consider a business management student who wants to graduate with an MBA and then start a 3D printing company.


  • My major strength is the ability to think strategically.
  • I also possess exemplary design skills and am fluent in technical vocabulary.


  • I am less well-versed in business matters outside of the United States market.
  • My sales and marketing skills could do with some work.
  • I tend to overload myself with work by not delegating it to others.


  • As a woman in business, I have an opportunity to establish myself in the industry by taking advantage of various financial incentives and support.
  • My ability to think creatively and a relatively established professional network may allow me to grow the startup into a profitable enterprise.


  • The impact of COVID-19 on businesses cannot be ignored and may cause potential employers to rethink their hiring strategies. 
  • Like almost any business in the tech industry, the 3D printing business must constantly stay abreast of innovation and other new developments to remain competitive.

Digital marketing specialist

In the second example, we have a digital marketing specialist who is already established in the industry and looking to increase their clientele list. 


  • I’m open to trying new things, exploring new possibilities, and developing new skills.
  • I managed to start (and maintain) a side hustle during the pandemic.
  • With a proud history of volunteering at community events, I possess excellent event planning skills that I could use to develop holistic social media marketing campaigns.
  • I also have the ability to create client websites and develop social media strategy.


  • As a serial procrastinator, one of my weaknesses is poor time management.
  • I tend to be a perfectionist that is never 100% satisfied with my work, which can also lead to missed deadlines and working for a rate that is below what I’m worth.
  • Perhaps the weakness that needs to be addressed first is my inability to delegate work to others.


  • Since I can speak French, Italian, Portuguese, and English, this may open up opportunities in foreign-speaking markets or for clients who need multilingual digital marketing specialists.
  • With an international network of contacts, there is potential that I could expand my services and work with world universities, charitable organizations, travel companies, and export companies.
  • I could also take advantage of affordable courses on Coursera, for example, to upskill and learn aspects of website coding and design.


  • The COVID-19 pandemic has benefitted the digital marketing industry as a whole since more people and businesses are interacting online. However, many individuals have been made redundant and are now offering similar services. This has increased the competition for digital marketing specialists.
  • Google’s constant search algorithm updates also pose a threat to my ability to deliver beneficial outcomes for clients.

Personal SWOT complemented by SMART Goals

A SMART goal is any goal with a carefully planned, concise, and trackable objective. To be such a goal needs to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based. Bringing structure and trackability to goal setting increases the chances goals will be achieved, and it helps align the organization around those goals.

The Personal SWOT analysis is an excellent framework for defining where you are and identifying the key elements that might help you achieve personal growth.

However, to make the Personal SWOT helpful, you must complement it with frameworks such as SMART Goals.

Indeed, through SMART goals, once you have identifies your strength, and weaknesses, but also opportunities, and threats, you can define your goal by making them specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based.

In other words, the SMART Goal framework can be a great way to execute on top of the Personal SWOT analysis.

Personal SWOT complemented by OKR

Andy Grove, helped Intel become among the most valuable companies by 1997. In his years at Intel, he conceived a management and goal-setting system, called OKR, standing for “objectives and key results.” Venture capitalist and early investor in Google, John Doerr, systematized in the book “Measure What Matters.”

Whereas SMART Goals is a great companion framework to achieve success at a personal level.

If you want to integrate this success into your team and achieve it at the professional/business level, then the OKR framework might be more effective.

Indeed, the OKR enables you to transform personal goals, via personal SWOT analysis, into goals that can be achieved together with your team.

Thus, enhance success by transforming your personal goals into a team endeavor!

Personal SWOT and Moonshot Thinking

Moonshot thinking is an approach to innovation, and it can be applied to business or any other discipline where you target at least 10X goals. That shifts the mindset, and it empowers a team of people to look for unconventional solutions, thus starting from first principles by leveraging on fast-paced experimentation.

Another way to transform the Personal SWOT into an actionable tool, and prevent the risk of making it into just a theoretical exercise, is to integrate a moonshot mindset with it.

Thus, once you understand the context and your opportunities, you can also develop a growth mindset to translate into action what you learned from a personal SWOT analysis.

Key takeaways

  • A personal SWOT analysis identifies areas of growth through the personal reflection of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
  • A personal SWOT analysis relies on unbiased information to be effective. Independent market research and the opinions of friends and colleagues can help offset personal biases.
  • Personal SWOT analysis results can be evaluated by matching two categories to determine where efforts should be directed. Negative attributes can also be turned into positive attributes by considering context and future planning.

Key Highlights

  • Adaptability: The SWOT analysis, commonly used in business, can also be adapted for personal use to address goals, career progression, and transitions.
  • Strengths and Weaknesses: Identify your personal strengths (skills, qualifications, achievements) and weaknesses (shortcomings, lacking skills) objectively.
  • Opportunities and Threats: Explore external opportunities (industry trends, networking) and threats (competition, changing industry dynamics) that affect your personal goals.
  • Unbiased Approach: Strive for unbiased self-assessment; involve friends, colleagues, and research to balance personal perspectives.
  • Four-Box Diagram: Create a SWOT diagram with four boxes representing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
  • Matching Method: Evaluate outcomes by matching strengths with opportunities for aggressive action, and weaknesses with threats for proactive solutions.
  • Turning Negatives into Positives: Convert weaknesses into strengths and threats into opportunities by planning and context consideration.
  • Examples: Personal SWOT analysis examples include a business management student’s goal to start a 3D printing company and a digital marketing specialist’s aim to expand clientele.
  • SMART Goals: Complement the SWOT analysis with SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-based) for focused and trackable personal growth.
  • OKR Framework: Expand personal success to a team level using Objectives and Key Results (OKR), a goal-setting system, for collaboration and innovation.
  • Moonshot Thinking: Embrace moonshot thinking, aiming for 10X goals and innovative solutions, to translate SWOT insights into transformative action.
  • Self-Reflection and Growth: Personal SWOT analysis encourages self-reflection and growth by identifying areas for improvement, leveraging strengths, and seizing opportunities.

How do you conduct a personal SWOT analysis?

Similar to a SWOT analysis for businesses, to conduct a personal SWOT analysis, you should be looking into these four aspects:

Connected Business Frameworks

Porter’s Five Forces

Porter’s Five Forces is a model that helps organizations to gain a better understanding of their industries and competition. Published for the first time by Professor Michael Porter in his book “Competitive Strategy” in the 1980s. The model breaks down industries and markets by analyzing them through five forces.

BCG Matrix

In the 1970s, Bruce D. Henderson, founder of the Boston Consulting Group, came up with The Product Portfolio (aka BCG Matrix, or Growth-share Matrix), which would look at a successful business product portfolio based on potential growth and market shares. It divided products into four main categories: cash cows, pets (dogs), question marks, and stars.

Balanced Scorecard

First proposed by accounting academic Robert Kaplan, the balanced scorecard is a management system that allows an organization to focus on big-picture strategic goals. The four perspectives of the balanced scorecard include financial, customer, business process, and organizational capacity. From there, according to the balanced scorecard, it’s possible to have a holistic view of the business.

Blue Ocean Strategy 

A blue ocean is a strategy where the boundaries of existing markets are redefined, and new uncontested markets are created. At its core, there is value innovation, for which uncontested markets are created, where competition is made irrelevant. And the cost-value trade-off is broken. Thus, companies following a blue ocean strategy offer much more value at a lower cost for the end customers.

Scenario Planning

Businesses use scenario planning to make assumptions on future events and how their respective business environments may change in response to those future events. Therefore, scenario planning identifies specific uncertainties – or different realities and how they might affect future business operations. Scenario planning attempts at better strategic decision making by avoiding two pitfalls: underprediction, and overprediction.

Ansoff Matrix

You can use the Ansoff Matrix as a strategic framework to understand what growth strategy is more suited based on the market context. Developed by mathematician and business manager Igor Ansoff, it assumes a growth strategy can be derived by whether the market is new or existing, and the product is new or existing.

Comparable Analysis Framework

A comparable company analysis is a process that enables the identification of similar organizations to be used as a comparison to understand the business and financial performance of the target company. To find comparables you can look at two key profiles: the business and financial profile. From the comparable company analysis it is possible to understand the competitive landscape of the target organization.

Growth Matrix

In the FourWeekMBA growth matrix, you can apply growth for existing customers by tackling the same problems (gain mode). Or by tackling existing problems, for new customers (expand mode). Or by tackling new problems for existing customers (extend mode). Or perhaps by tackling whole new problems for new customers (reinvent mode).

Revenue Streams Matrix

In the FourWeekMBA Revenue Streams Matrix, revenue streams are classified according to the kind of interactions the business has with its key customers. The first dimension is the “Frequency” of interaction with the key customer. As the second dimension, there is the “Ownership” of the interaction with the key customer.

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