The Importance of Self-Assessment
Unless you are fortunate enough to win the lottery, you must work for a living. You will typically work for several decades. Because of many variables, workers are extending their career beyond the typical retirement age. Research says most people will have at least 12 jobs in their career.
According to a 2019 report by the Center for Civil Society at Johns Hopkins University, nonprofit jobs total 12.3 million in 2016. Knowing that you must work, wouldn’t you seek to advance in your career over time? One way to ensure greater probability of future job success is by having the ability and drive for self-improvement.
Self-evaluation, according to WeThrive, is the ability to examine yourself, and evaluate strengths and weaknesses.
Through the process of self-evaluation, employees can:
- Feel more engaged in the appraisal process.
- Gain greater insights and set future goals for improvement.
- Feel more confident about their abilities.
- Enhance capacity building and learn to make corrections quickly.
- Select training programs that are most suited to their needs.
- Develop an inquiring mind for problem solving.
- Become more accountable.
Employees who self-evaluate are typically happier, more committed, more productive, and more loyal to the organizations they serve.
A tool that can be used for self-analysis is a SWOT Analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats). Companies use this analysis for strategic planning purposes. This process, as Investopedia noticed in a recent article, assesses internal and external factors plus current and future potential. The SWOT tool findings can lead to fact-based analysis, fresh perspectives and innovative ideas. SWOT analysis, besides business usage, is now employed by governments, nonprofits and individuals.
SWOT variables include strengths — what an entity excels at and what makes it stand out; weaknesses — elements that stop an entity from performing at its optimum level; opportunities — favorable external factors that could give an entity competitive advantage; and threats plus factors that have the potential to harm an entity. SWOT is a useful planning tool, but it should be employed with other tools for maximum personal results.
The Coles College of Business School at Kennesaw State University (PDF) noted that personal development is essential for making yourself more appealing to employers. Individuals often conduct a personal SWOT analysis to stand apart from others and those that seek top positions. While SWOT analysis originally was for business use, a personal SWOT analysis can help individuals learn about themselves. It helps someone find life and career direction.
Some questions through a personal SWOT analysis include the following elements:
- What benefits do you have that others do not have?
- What are you better at than anyone else?
- What do other people see as your strength?
- What personal resources do you have access to?
- What work do you usually avoid due to a lack of confidence?
- What do people think your weaknesses are?
- Are you happy with your education and skills training?
- What are your negative work habits?
- What modern technologies can assist you?
- Can you take advantage of the career market in its present state?
- Do you have a network of strategic contacts that can help you?
- Could you create an opportunity by offering solutions to problems?
- What hindrances do you currently face at work?
- Are any of your co-workers competing with you for roles?
- Is your job changing?
- Could any of your weaknesses lead to threats?
Creating and implementing a personal SWOT analysis helps you develop strategies to attain your long-term goals. It shows you where you stand on the path of success. It can boost your career, life and personality. It can maximize your strengths while minimizing your weaknesses. If focuses on your attitudes, abilities, skills, capabilities and capacities. It can help you grow and point you in a positive direction. This tool is something you may need to improve short- and long-term focus. It can also humble you and make you a better person.
A article by Ken Lai on Medium emphasizes that the SWOT analysis is a structured planning method used to evaluate strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats involved in a project. Involved in this analysis is external and internal factors.
Key points in personal SWOT analysis notes examples of strengths that are internal in nature such as work experience, skills, education, characteristics, networks and enjoyment. Example of weaknesses show a lack of work experience, lack of job knowledge, weak technical skills, education that is not a work fit, and negative personal characteristics.
Examples of opportunities are positive field career trends, field needs that need your skills, job opportunities in your field, location and a strong network that can help you seek your goals. Threat examples include desirable companies that are not hiring, field trends that are negative, competition from others with same degree, competitors with superior skills, experience or knowledge, and limited advancement in your field.
Use your personal SWOT analysis results to replan your personal improvement strategy. Develop a new career goal pathway and action plan with timetable. Use self-assessment results to help determine your career goals and objectives. Too many professionals jump into the nonprofit sector and drift from position to position without the benefit of a self-analysis plan.
You need to determine, through self-analysis, what areas of the nonprofit sector give you the greatest enjoyment and self-satisfaction and where the highest-level openings could present itself. This will lead to a development plan that improves your performance on a variety of fronts.
Do you expect positive career results to occur because of luck? “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity” is a quote attributed to the Roman philosopher Seneca. Engaging in a personal SWOT analysis is a good first step in charting your own destiny.
Duke Haddad, Ed.D., CFRE, is currently associate director of development, director of capital campaigns and director of corporate development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis. He also serves as president of Duke Haddad and Associates LLC and is a freelance instructor for Nonprofit Web Advisor.
He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO since 2008.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis on education administration plus a dissertation on donor characteristics. He received a master’s degree from Marshall University with an emphasis on public administration plus a thesis on annual fund analysis. He secured a bachelor’s degree (cum laude) with an emphasis on marketing/management. He has done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
Duke has received the Fundraising Executive of the Year Award, from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Indiana Chapter. He also was given the Outstanding West Virginian Award, Kentucky Colonel Award and Sagamore of the Wabash Award from the governors of West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana, respectively, for his many career contributions in the field of philanthropy. He has maintained a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) designation for three decades.