• Hillary Hufford-Tucker

Defining Your Personal Brand? Start by SWOTing Yourself.

Chart Your Course by Identifying Your Career Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats

Whether you’re currently employed or not, this exercise will set the stage for what your personal brand will signify. The SWOT process requires you to pair career research with a good dose of introspection. Research prospective job descriptions, people in similar roles, and industry associations and use them as a resource for each stage of the SWOT analysis and summary.

You’ll move through a marketing SWOT analysis to discover your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. The entire time you’re working through your SWOT, write down all the keywords you see in other peoples’ brands, prospective job descriptions, and industry research relevant to your job search. Take detailed notes on thoughts and feelings that arise during this process.

I have to say upfront that “SWOTing” yourself is a daunting process. It is even tricky for skilled marketers looking at their own company’s brands. Some people avoid the SWOT process and move straight to the resume because they don’t want to spend the time doing the real research – both external and personal – needed to move forward. Regrettably, they usually revisit the SWOT after realizing they aren’t as in-tune with their personal issues, skill gaps, the overall search process, or brand offering.

Although it’s sometimes challenging to work through the questions, you’ll save time doing this work upfront and learn more about yourself and your goals. You must be diligent and patient with yourself because the SWOT provides the building blocks for your entire brand. Take the time necessary to analyze the nitty-gritty, seek counsel from friends and coworkers, and access your full potential.

Ask the Right Questions


ANALYZE YOUR STRENGTHS: The purpose of this analysis is for you to amplify your strengths and understand how others might view your skill sets.

  • What is your primary professional goal? Why?

  • How do your peers define your strengths?

  • What are you known for in your career?

  • What skills will benefit potential organizations or audiences?

  • What sets you apart from the competition (ideas, skills, etc.)?


EXAMINE YOUR WEAKNESSES: Think of your weaknesses as a way to improve the skills that will make you a stronger candidate.

  • Has a recruiter, boss, or hiring manager told you that you’re missing skills?

  • Are you missing essential abilities or training that will affect landing a new role?

  • How do your work peers define your weaknesses?

  • If you have completed a 360-degree analysis, what were your limitations?

  • What can you do to change any of the identified issues?


IDENTIFY OPPORTUNITIES: Exploring opportunities will help align your brand with prospective position requirements.

  • How do your peers talk about their expertise?

  • What new technology, certification(s), or training do you need to land the role?

  • How might you address any skill gaps between your resume and job descriptions?

  • What industry, social, political, technological, and market shifts make your ideal role more compelling?


PERSONAL GROWTH: This is a subjective analysis of your traits, approach, and overall personal life that can limit potential.

Review all past roles and note where you might have:

  • Avoided or denied criticism, were not self-aware, or did not admit fault for a problem

  • Missed opportunities to improve your performance

  • Didn’t speak your mind or fought direction from peers and leaders

  • Do you have personal, family, health, or other issues that you should address before entering the market?

Summarize Your Brand Attributes

The SWOT provides a foundation for your unique brand. Take time to reflect on your answers, determine possible next steps for improvement, then use the details to construct your brand statement and resume.


  • Areas of surprise

  • Possibilities for refinement or education

  • Recurring keywords or skill sets between job descriptions, the SWOT, and your resume


Once you’ve digested the information, make a list for each of the following areas:

  1. Strengths

  2. Skills

  3. Education and Training

  4. Certifications

  5. Core Values


As a certified career coach, Hillary guides extraordinary people and their personal brands. She’s a career solutionista that helps clients discover their unique worth to find new employment, pivot industries, or move toward cause-oriented work. When Hillary’s not busy coaching amazing people, she rides bikes, learns about wine, cooks for friends, and travels globally with her family. Find out more and sign up for her newsletter at www.careersolutionista.com.

Keywords: #personalbrand #personalbranding #careerdevelopment #jobsearch #careerchange