Personal development planning for engineering
Personal development planning for engineering

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2.3 Your opportunities and threats

As you have worked through this section on evaluating your abilities, you will have collected a lot of information relating to your strengths and weaknesses and considered the opportunities and threats facing you. You will now see how you can summarise and analyse this information.

Figure 4 shows a matrix designed to help you summarise and analyse your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (often referred to by the acronym SWOT). The basic framework consists of four fields with those names, into which you list any factors that are appropriate to the subject being analysed – in this case your career development.

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Figure 4 SWOT analysis

SWOT analysis can be used for a wide range of applications. However, for the purposes of this course, the SWOT matrix will be used to help you analyse your strengths and weaknesses in relation to any opportunities and threats that may help or hinder your career development. Once you've done that, you can plan to build on your strengths and deal with your weaknesses, which will put you in a better position to take advantage of any opportunities and counter any threats.

To carry out a personal SWOT analysis, you need to complete the matrix in terms of the following.

  • Strengths: What do you do well? What do other people see as your strengths? What are your skills, values and interests?
  • Weaknesses: What areas need development? What should you avoid?
  • Opportunities: What possibilities are open to you? What resources do you have? Who can help you?
  • Threats: What might cause you difficulties? What responsibilities do you have? What might restrict you?

This analysis will help you to focus on the main issues you need to consider when deciding what your long- and short-term goals should be. Explore what you do well, the areas you need to work on, the possibilities that are open to you and the things that might cause difficulties. In particular, you need to be absolutely honest about your weaknesses because you can take steps to develop those areas. It's a good idea to keep things simple at this stage – I've included my own example as Figure 5.

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Figure 5 Example SWOT analysis

Activity 8

Aim of this activity:

  • to conduct a personal SWOT analysis.

Insert a blank grid into your learning log and complete your own SWOT analysis. Once you've used your analysis to identify what is feasible, you can start to prioritise and decide what you want to achieve first. You can then link this to your goals, which we'll cover in the next section.

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