SWOT analysis: Time for a spot of self-analysis

As many of you will know, SWOT analysis (also known as the SWOT matrix) is a strategic planning tool. It is used in business to identify aspects of an individual, team or company.  The acronym spells out the key features that can affect outcomes and performance on any given project or strategic plan. They are STRENGTHS, WEAKNESSES, OPPORTUNITIES and THREATS. They have become a familiar and universal way to quickly identify and isolate these key areas. Then, through a discussion or analysis, a SWOT model can be quickly noted down and understood.

How can SWOT help you?

It’s an interesting exercise to apply the rudiments of SWOT to self-analysis, when you’re thinking about how your career is progressing, for example. It is also useful when choosing new paths or making important, career-related decisions.

Strengths are characteristics and assets that give you an edge over others

Weaknesses are those traits which could be seen as detrimental or need improving

Opportunities are aspects of your sector that you could make use of in your favour

Threats are areas that could cause uncertainty or turbulence for you.

Two sides of the same coin

Strengths and weakness are obviously flip sides of the same coin and can be easily identifiable. You’ll know what you are good at and where, if anywhere, you fall short. When thinking of your strengths, think about things such as your experience, education, qualifications and aspects of your job you’re particularly good at. These can be seen as skills that set you apart from the pack. You can also include achievements that you’re most proud of here too.  Weaknesses are often seen more by other people than acknowledged by yourself. It may be useful to ask others’ opinions on this one. Traits such as a lack of punctuality or organisation can be offset by your stronger suits, but there’s always room for improvement.

Identifying the opportunities

Opportunities are chances that come along that you could make greater use of in your career progression. These could be job opportunities, but also such aspects as new technologies and networking could fall under this heading too. Threats also need to be identified. They can be rival businesses or challenges you face at work – be they colleagues or technological change. One of the most prominent threats currently in business, apart from the obvious impact of the pandemic, is the way technological change is driving business development. Many traditional office roles are becoming obsolete. However, this can be overcome by retraining or looking at allied sectors, where your skills may be transferable.

Defining a clear direction

Categorising your work personality in this way, using SWOT data, will help to define your career path. It will also reveal where your true strengths and weaknesses lie. However, it’s not always easy to do this on your own.  At Career Evolution, we have a team of highly qualified and experienced Consultants and business Coaches that can work with you to turn problems into challenges, and challenges into opportunities.  So, if your business is investing in outplacement and you would like to find out more about how we can help you, visit www.career-evolution.org.

In times of great change, how can outplacement work for you?

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Company restructures can be challenging, but for many companies this year, they will be necessary. Redundancies and job losses can cause untold upheaval.  It is obviously difficult for the whole company, but it can be particularly stressful for the HR team. Key members of the team potentially have to deal with the angst of employees throughout the organisation, while also having to deal with their own personal uncertainties too.

A positive approach

It is worth considering the benefits of outsourcing some elements of the HR function during these periods.  By working with a business qualified to help and support the HR team in outplacement, career management and coaching, you will provide a strong foundation to meet the various challenges thrown up by the situation and individuals affected, in a positive and constructive manner.

The benefits of distance

In addition to the experience of these types of situations that they already have, there are many other benefits to working with a third party at these times.  Not least of these is the element of distance that your Consultant will have from the emotional turmoil that is potentially impacting on the internal team.  Often affected employees find it easier to discuss how they feel and what they want to do with a third-party career consultant rather than someone they are likely to run into in the kitchen. In addition, the use of outplacement clearly demonstrates – internally and externally – that as an organisation, it is committed to doing the right thing.

Now and for the future

As well as supporting people exiting the business, a Consultant can work closely with the teams remaining to improve levels of morale, address development needs and generally help throughout the transitional period.  By keeping people at the heart of the process, you have the potential to turn a situation which could be damaging into something else for both the people who leave and the ones who remain.  Don’t forget, looking after your workforce now, has never been more important.

The job search – it’s all about the inverse!

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Even in these uncertain times, some things never change – like sending out job applications. If you’ve sent off 500 applications and you have not had a response, you’re definitely doing something wrong. The law of averages dictates that you should have at least some respondents, even if it’s simply an acknowledgement of receipt, out of courtesy. If you have had no interest at all, then the likely cause is that you’re applying for positions and roles that are mismatched to your skills and capabilities.

Concentrating your efforts

A scattershot approach to job applications will get you nowhere. Even in these strange times, when most offices are working from home once more, it’s not just a case of applying for every single advertised position. Yes, job adverts are being oversubscribed at the moment, but applicants may not be thinking through their suitability for the roles. These are stressful times and many people have mortgages to pay and children to home-school, on top of their other responsibilities of work and wider family. But when it comes to job applications and career progression, it’s also about taking the time to really think about what you want. Be very specific – but also realistic – of where to channel your efforts.

Focus on three key things:

  • What do you want to do and what sort of organisation do you want to work in?
  • What salary are you looking for?
  • Where should the job be located?

By understanding what you want, you are better able to position yourself to achieve it. In terms of what you want to do, your skillset will to a certain extent determine where your career path lies. But even then, many skills are transferable and can be realistically adapted to allied sectors. If there was ever a time to broaden your horizons and think beyond your chosen sector, it’s now. Businesses themselves are rethinking how they operate and who to employ. As well as the sector it is in, you also need to think about the type of company you want to work for. Consider things like its size and its culture. As these things will all impact on your working day.

In terms of salary, only you know your expectations. However, don’t undersell yourself.  Even though we are still in the midst of a pandemic, good organisations will pay the market rate for good people.  Don’t be taken in by people in organisations offering you a lower salary because they think you’ll take it if you’re unemployed.

With the working from home (WFH) initiative, the ‘where’ has to an extent become redundant. There will be a time when you will be travelling into the office, or attending in-person meetings, but we’re not there yet. If WFH has shown us all one thing, it’s the benefits of flexible working, and how quickly we have all adapted to it.

Everybody’s talking

It remains important to talk to and develop your relationships within your network of business contacts during the job search process. You never know what opportunities they may be aware of. Also, engage with the right recruiters – preferably ones that have either demonstrated real success in the past or you have worked with before. Other recruiters and job boards still have their place, but should be much lower down the list of priorities as you apply for roles.

Remember, if your company is offering outplacement, it is always an effective tool. A specialist outplacement company will have the mechanics and strategy in place to help you achieve your goals. Communication is key to finding that perfect role. By using a combination of your own knowledge, your contacts and outplacement expertise, it’s possible to unlock that winning formula to find your next role.

New year, new job? Top tips for finding career success in 2021

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With 2020 finally behind us, we can all hope for and look forward to a much better year than the one we have just had. For some of us, the new year may also mean a new start, at least in terms of a job and career. As England enters the latest round of lockdown and the other home nations are all also locked down to varying degrees, we are once again travelling unchartered territory.  Although the ‘world of work’ has changed in so many ways, navigating a job search or developing your current career is not impossible. We share some of our top tips to help you be in the best position to find career success in 2021:

Expand your horizons

Don’t be put off by job locality. Working from home has become the norm for many businesses and employees throughout 2020. With no end yet in sight for this trend, it means that you can expand your job search wider than within a certain commuting radius, which may have influenced your job searches in the past.

Update your work information

It goes without saying that your CV needs to be as correct and up-to-date as possible. But, what about your social media profiles? If you use LinkedIn, make sure your work information is correct and you position yourself in a way that makes you attractive to a potential employer.

Reach out to your network

Although face-to-face networking is currently out of the question, the digital world makes it incredibly easy to connect and communicate with potentially useful contacts. Get in touch with your existing network. Find out what is happening to your connections and share your own experiences with them.  In the same as face-to-face networking, it is crucial to develop two-way communication. By developing a rapport, you might find that they have an opportunity for you or can point you in the direction of your new dream job. It might also help to branch out of a particular field and look for something new in an untapped sector. Connecting with people in those fields could help get you noticed for a role.

Practice your interview skills

It’s likely that job interviews will be remaining solely online, at least for the foreseeable future. While this has advantages, trying to undertake a professional interview whilst at home can highlight its own set of problems. An online interview needs to show the interviewer that you will have an adequate and quiet workspace, even with children at home from school or a partner also working from home, as this will be looked upon favourably.

Make sure you can undergo an interview with an unfussy or non-contentious background behind you, in a space where you will (hopefully) not be disturbed. Iron out any technical issues, such as making sure the camera and audio will work and invest in a microphone headset to appear more professional. You should try your best to have a distraction – and IT issue – free environment. However, people are much more tolerant of these hiccups now, then they ever would have been 12 months ago. Practice having online interviews with your Career Consultant, it’ll help you prepare for the real thing.

Enhance your prospects

If your business is looking to provide outplacement to departing employees, Career Evolution can help by supporting employees their next step in their career through one-to-one training, delivered virtually. All of our Consultants are experienced in assisting with career transitions and come from a variety of sectors and work backgrounds. Our Consultants will work with your employees to identify their options and transferable skills, to make a difference to their job search or career enhancement and realise their full potential.

Stay positive

The job market is tough, but our professional Coaches can help your employees to develop resilience for a more positive and effective mind-set and attitude. Get in touch to see how we can help.

Good luck, and happy job hunting in 2021!