A useful tool as a mentee is to work through a SWOT analysis with your mentor. The value of this tool is that it can provide a first stage in identifying those aspects which are particularly important to your career and the direction you want to take it. We would recommend that you do a first “run” at the SWOT on your own before discussing it with your mentor. It can be helpful to have some clear ideas before a mentoring conversation so that the mentor can ask targeted questions to help you analyse further.
Your career doesn’t happen in a vacuum but within the context of other aspects of your life. There may be non-work-related experience, knowledge and interests that will have a direct bearing on the transferable skills and knowledge you can bring into your career. So, when using a SWOT analysis it’s vital that you look at the four categories of the SWOT across a range of life aspects such as those listed below:
- beliefs and values
- personal situation including relationships, children, finances and age etc…
- education and training – career and personal
- experience and skills – career and personal
- interests – career and personal
- drive and desire in relation to career
- others’ perceptions
- special interest groups
Each of these points listed above need to be related to each element of the SWOT in order to get a very accurate and comprehensive picture of you within your career.
S = Strengths. Simply – what are you good at? What strengths do others believe you have? What motivates you and drives you – these will be natural strengths because you will put time and energy into developing them. What inspires you? What gives you satisfaction?
W = Weaknesses. What are your gaps or areas for development? What do you find challenging? What are the things that don’t interest you and you don’t want to incorporate into your career? What are those aspects that you have a great desire to improve but are currently limitations for you?
O = Opportunities. A reality check – what is within the realm of possibility for you at this time in your life? What opportunities are available to you within your current situation? What opportunities are available to you based on developing some skills/expertise or maybe getting a further qualification? What’s realistic?
T = Threats. What limitations are there on you achieving your goals? Who may be blocking your path? What gaps in experience/knowledge will be limiting or challenging to the point of blocking your progress? What external ‘forces’ are threats to you achieving your goal eg: political; economic; geographical etc?
Some things to be aware of are:
- The more thorough the SWOT analysis the more useful and valuable it will be.
- A comprehensive SWOT analysis takes time and should be done over a number of goes so that you can keep building on it. It’s like writing a first draft – go back and review and add to it before deciding you want to share it with your mentor.
- Be utterly honest with yourself. The true value of this tool is that you can have a good look and reflect upon your current situation and needs and areas that need attention.
- Once you have explored SWOT in relation to the life aspects listed previously it’s time to get some additional perspective from your mentor. Remember to be very open to their questions and perspective. Their role is to help grow you.