SWOT Analysis – A Valuable Tool for Individuals and Organizations

SWOT Analysis has been used by executives and managers for decades. It  provides a method to take a solid look at both the internal and external aspects of an organization, industry, or a career at different points in time. Looking internally and externally during a SWOT analysis helps to create an itemized list of both good and bad aspects industries and organizations. It is also a valuable tool to help individuals make a realistic assessment of their career at regular intervals. A SWOT analysis, whether examining an organization or an individual career, looks at both the good and bad as follows:

  • Strengths – Internal
  • Weaknesses – Internal
  • Opportunities – External
  • Threats – External

By understanding the strengths and weakness, as well as the opportunities and threats of target industries and organizations, individuals in job transition can attain the insights needed to shape and focus their skills and experience as solutions to the problems of an industry, and more specifically, write industry focused Special Reports. Such reports are up to 10 times more effective in landing top level interviews than resumes and cover letters. Then by asking a series of focused questions during an interview candidates can utilize a SWOT analysis to follow up with a proposal demonstrating a significant return on investment (ROI) to the organization..

It should be noted, that internal factors – strengths and weaknesses are largely in control of the individual or an organization. Conversely, whether an individual or an organization, generally has no control over their external factors – opportunities and threats.

It is critical to allow enough time to study each of the four areas in-depth and as pragmatically as possible. Keep your lists in all four areas short, ideally no more than three items in each category. If a list is too long it becomes unwieldy and almost impossible to implement. So limit questions in each of the 4 areas to 3.

Check out the following websites for ideas and instructions on implementing a SWOT analysis:


For personal career or life strategy, http://www.mindtools.com/rs/LifePlanWorkbook

Published in: on January 9, 2012 at 10:29 pm  Comments (1)  


Look for problems, not jobs. There isn’t a  company anywhere in the world that does not have problems. Even if a company has no formal job opening there is close to a 100 percent chance they have a problem that is an opportunity for you to present a proposal demonstrating you have the savvy and initiative to solve and create significantly more value than you will cost.

Be visible in your professional association.  The best opportunities to present proposals come to those who are visible and  perceived as leaders. This means speaking, joining committees, heading special projects, running for offices, and writing articles for the newsletter.

Think like a consultant.  A management consultant does a lot of  research and information interviews with key industry people. In the process they develop “inside” relationships. This is exactly what  management and professional men and women in transition should be doing.

Modify your proposal for multiple companies. Proposals don’t have to be one-shot deals. In a well-focused job search the companies you approach are likely to have similar problems. Therefore you can modify your proposal many times. Word processing makes such modifications relatively quick and easy.

Turn job and informational interviews into proposal opportunities. In your thank you letter you might write something like “I have several ideas which might be helpful concerning our discussion on …….” Follow up the letter with a      telephone call and say; “If you’d be interested, I’d be glad to put my ideas in writing for you.”

Published in: on December 29, 2011 at 12:22 am  Comments (1)  

How to Dump Traditional Job Search Techniques and Land Your Next Job 50% Faster

The overwhelming percentage of job hunters focus on traditional “reactive” search techniques such as: attempting to create the “perfect” resume, an unobtainable goal; focusing too much energy on the published job market, including the Internet; and finally chasing executives recruiters.  Don’t get me wrong, all of these things should be part of a well-structured job search, but they should be used in proportion to their probable success.  For example a management level job hunter has a 10 percent probability of landing a management position using published resources, including the Internet.  The probability of success with recruiters is about 5 percent.  With these statistics in mind, a well structured 40-hour per week job search should devote only 4 hour a week on the published job market, and 2 hours contacting recruiters. 

The “proactive” job hunter does not “react” to the known job market.  Rather they look at industry trends, target companies, and where there are problems that they can solve.  They are constantly asking themselves “where are their target organizations changing, growing, bleeding, or hurting.  What is going on in the industry, in my target companies where I can present myself as a change agent, where I can demonstrate that I’ll bring more value than I’ll cost.”  Answering these questions may mean 40 or more hours of intensive research, supplemented with networking in professional organizations and information interviews with industry insiders.  Such “proactive” approaches quickly distinguish job hunters from 95 percent of their competition, because most job hunters are “reactive”.

Published in: on December 21, 2011 at 1:09 am  Leave a Comment  

Advanced Job Transition Course for Unemployed Management and Professional Orange County Residents

Brandman University, with a generous grant from The Pacific Life Foundation, is sponsoring a tuition free Advanced Job Transition Course for unemployed management and professional men and women in Orange County.

This hands on, highly interactive course is 6 full days, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, over two weeks. Classes begin promptly at 8:30 AM and wrap up at 4:30 PM. There will be 3 to 5 hours of homework before each class, including the first class.

The course includes (at no charge) a 223 page E-book manual and focuses on cutting edge strategies designed to help career oriented men and women find jobs ASAP in this very tough job market. Students work in teams of 8 to 10 designed to encourage each other, brainstorm ideas and hold members accountable for homework assignments. Strategies studied in the course include:

•Writing and implementing ROI focused industry reports
•In depth research strategies
•Writing and implementing targeted proposals
•Creating and implementing accomplishment portfolios
•Strategic interviewing: Demonstrating your value
to an organization in 30, 60, 90 days and beyond
•Industry branding: Becoming the first name that
comes to mind for excellence in an industry and/or function
•Social media including LinkedIn, Twitter, web sites and blogs
•How to write and present case studies verbally and online
•Negotiation strategies
•Structured brainstorming

The course will be led by John Hall who was awarded Pepperdine University’s Orange County Alumni Association’s 2010 Waves of Service Award for his work with Orange County’s unemployed. John is a retired executive career coach with 21 years of experience helping management and professional individuals through job transitions and co author of the book Adapt! How to Survive and Thrive in the Changing World of Work. He was referred to as the “John Wooden of career Coaches” in the April 25, 2011 edition of Newsweek Magazine. Assisting John will be a team of experienced job transition coaches.

The next Advanced Job Transition Course is scheduled for Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM, in February 13 through February 24, 2012

Brandman University:
16355 Laguna Canyon Road
Irvine, CA 92618
(949) 753-4774

Mary Shelton at 949-341-9859
Email: shelton@brandman.edu

John Hall, Course Instructor
949.387.2004 Office
949.689.4846 Cell
Email: jhirvine@aol.com

Published in: on January 7, 2011 at 12:17 am  Leave a Comment  

Brandman University • Career Strategies Workshop

The Brandman University Advanced Career Strategies workshop will be offered on the Irvine campus January 17 – 28, tuition-free. The course is designed to help executives and management professionals find employment in a tough economy.

Last November’s course included thirty high-level professionals – among them were a finance director, attorney, senior auditor, AT&T project manager, doctor of pharmaceutical research, hospital administrator, human resource specialist, advertising executive and several marketing and sales professionals out of work due to the toughest economy in the last 70 years. Each of them left with a concrete plan to be the A+ candidate and a branding strategy for continued career success.

The workshop is offered tuition-free throughout the year and is led by John Hall, a longtime job transition coach. Several coaches from the Professional Coaches and Mentors Association (PCMA) assist students through a series of intensive exercises, critiques, presentations and group activities. Classes run from 8:30 to 4:30 p.m. daily with an additional three hours of homework before each class, including the first class.

Professor Hall has coached hundreds of management and professional individuals through career transitions, and has taught at Chapman University and in the Graduate Career Counseling program at UC-San Diego. His passion is helping people transition through the rough economy by giving them the tools to succeed in today’s difficult job market. For his dedication to community service, John was honored in October with Pepperdine University’s Waves of Service Award for his work with Orange County’s unemployed.

Rohit Kaushik came to class with 17-years of experience in finance. He said, “This course helped me to focus by giving me straightforward direction. The biggest block I had was my own perception. I was thinking of myself as a job-seeker. John Hall taught me to market myself as a problem solver, not just someone who needs a job. His words had profound meaning and turned everything around.”

Professor Hall asks his students to approach the workshop as they would an MBA class. “In today’s market, you must be the A+ candidate.” He says, “In the past, B or even C level job seekers could find work, but that’s no longer true.”

Students are required to develop “power stories” that highlight their professional achievements. A student in the September workshop writes: “I had a job interview just a few days after completing the course, it was a great success. I had so many well rehearsed power stories, the interviewer seemed ready to hire me on the spot. Memorizing and rehearsing those greatly reduced my stress and put me in an empowered, autopilot mode. I received an offer letter today!”

They must also write a special report that focuses on problems and issues generic to 80% or more of the companies in a given industry, or a proposal that focuses on the issues of a single targeted company. These are approaches rarely taught in expensive outplacement programs or local workshops including state sponsored One Stops or Experience Unlimited. Hall says the bottom line is that teaching management executives and professionals how to approach companies using these techniques elevates them in a manner that resumes and cover letters cannot approach. “To the best of my knowledge, less than 1 in 2000 job hunters ever use either of these approaches,” says Hall.

Takeaways included a 223 page e-book manual and targeted special industry reports about in-depth research strategies, job development proposals, career portfolios, strategic interviewing, personal branding and social media. Students added that the camaraderie and support they received from their classmates was a valuable benefit they didn’t anticipate. Professor Hall reports that most groups continue to meet regularly long after class has ended to network and provide support and feedback.

The six-day workshop is offered free-of-charge. The next class begins January 17, 2011. If you are interested in attending, please contact Mary Shelton at 949-341-9859 or e-mail, shelton@brandman.edu

When: January 17-28, 2011
Time: 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. plus 3 hours of homework before each class, including class 1.
Where: Brandman University,16355 Laguna Canyon Rd., Irvine
Registration: Mary Shelton at 949-341-9859 or shelton@brandman.edu
More information: http://www1.chapman.edu/enhance/careermgmt.htm

Published in: on December 21, 2010 at 1:11 am  Comments (1)  

The Advanced Career Strategies Course

 Leading Edge Concepts:

Proposals, Industry Reports, Portfolios, Video Resumes,

Social Media, and Strategic Interviewing

  • Land your next job Faster in this tough economy
  • Create a “Career”, not just a series of “Potluck” jobs
  • Get dramatically more interviews with “Special reports“, Proposals and Portfolios
  • Learn the principals of “Strategic Interviewing
  • Learn how to use the Internet and Social Networking to “Brand” yourself
  • Course members work in small teams with trained transition coaches

$249 registration fee returned , no questions asked, after 2 weeks, if not convinced this course will shorten your job search and benefit your future career growth.

Thursdays, April 1 through May 27, 2010 6:30 to 9:30 PM


16355 Laguna Canyon Road
Irvine, CA


Mary Shelton at (949) 341-9859


For more information contact the workshop presenter:

John Hall: 949 387-2004 • E-mail: jhirvine@aol.com


Published in: on March 28, 2010 at 1:22 am  Leave a Comment  

Special Reports: Dramatically More Effective Than Resumes

Jack Chapman, author of Negotiating Your Salary: How To Make $1000 a Minute, developed the concept of the Special Reports. I first became aware of the concept when I attended a workshop Jack gave at the International Career Development Conference in November 2001. Jack said it typically results in 10 times the response rate of the typical resume and cover letter. This is consistent with the experiences of my clients and students.

A Special Report is a kind of “White Paper” based on problems that are generic to an industry. In other words 80% or more of the organizations in the industry will have these same problems. Whatever your industry or profession, you probably have some insight about how to make things run smoother, better, easier, more profitably, etc. A Special Report shares that insight and experience with potential employers and brands you as an expert–not just another job seeker.

A well-crafted Special Report has much more impact on potential employers than the typical resume because it contains colorful graphics such as bar graphs and focuses on these four areas:

  • It emphasizes your potential contributions.
  • Positions you as an expert.
  • Is an interesting and colorful format and is more likely to be read than a resume.
  • It has substantive value giving it much more self life than a resume

In a future posting I will share “How To Write and Implement a Special Report” and post a Power Point presentation on Special Reports on my LinkedIn profile.

The writing and implementation of Special Reports is one of the leading edge strategies I teach at Chapman/Brandman University in Irvine, California in a course titled: Advanced Career Strategies. For more information on the course go to: http://www.advancedcareerstrategies.com

Published in: on March 10, 2010 at 12:23 am  Comments (2)  

Branding May Save Job Seekers Over $100,000

Job Security is an Antique

Job security is an antique relegated to the annals of history like the typewriter, carburetor and the 40 hour work week. Employers from Fortune 500 companies to small entrepreneurial firms are doing more with fewer employees working more hours. In today’s global economy accounting, computer programming, customer service and even some medical jobs are going to India, China, Ireland, Mexico and who knows where else. In the last two decades there have been more mergers and acquisitions, many with foreign companies, than in the United States for the previous 200 years. Typically the management and executive employees of these acquired companies are out the door seeking another job.

We Are All Entrepreneurs

Bottom line: the typical management and professional job lasts 2.5 to 5 years. This means that most “Knowledge Workers” are entrepreneurs who must sell their talent, skills and experience again and again and again. So job security does not come from any single job, no matter how much it pays, how secure the company may appear or how much you may love the job. Real job security for knowledge workers must come from their developing a high profile for excellence in an industry and function. This is why “Branding” is critical for long term career and financial success in today’s extremely competitive global economy.

The Bottom Line

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics finds that the average job seeker was out of work for 29.1 weeks, as of December 2009. Here is what this cost in lost income:

  • If a knowledge worker earns $75,000, then every unemployed week he loses $1,442.
  • If that knowledge worker earns $125,000 annually, he loses $2,403 every week he is out of work.
  • Project this to 29.1 weeks and the unemployed knowledge worker loses anywhere from $43,000 to $70,000.
  • If the position were a top level senior job, the lost income could go well over $100,000.

Because the typical “Knowledge Worker” will go through job transitions every few years there is a significant probability of multiple and painful income losses. These loses can easily compound to $100,000 or more in a decade or two. “Personal Career Branding” can reduce job losses and dramatically reduce the time between jobs.

Check our the article 

“Leaving the Rut Behind”


Published in: on March 3, 2010 at 6:45 pm  Comments (1)  

7 Reasons Careers Plateau Too Soon

“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” This often quoted observation from Henry David Thoreau’s On Walden Pond was made in 1840. Sometimes I wonder if this observation is as relevant in the 21st century as it was in the 19th century. Based on over 20 years of coaching individuals through career transitions I have concluded that the majority of working men and women, from PhDs to dropouts, fail reach their potential. They take “Potluck” jobs hoping that their ideal position will be just around a corner that often fails to materialize. And so in some small way many are “living lives of quiet desperation”.

Why do the majority of 21st century men and women plateau well below our potential? I believe it comes down to seven factors that often start in our teen years:

  1. Having to choose a career with little life experience.
  2. Not knowing or considering core values and motivated skills.
  3. Poor transition planning.
  4. Settling for “Potluck” Jobs
  5. Undervaluing the “Soft Stills”.
  6. A lack of strategic career planning.
  7. The lack of personal branding.
Published in: on January 27, 2010 at 12:06 am  Leave a Comment  

How To Develop And Use Personal Commercials

Jim Morgan, a 31 year old marketing manager from Cleveland Ohio, introduced himself at a meeting of the Irvine California Chamber of Commerce, attended by over a hundred members and guests, using a short personal commercial.  In his personal commercial he indicated that he had expertise in marketing consumer goods, had increased the sales of several product lines over 30 percent, and was relocating to the Irvine area.  Then Jim asked if anyone at the meeting knew of a company with declining sales, or if they were aware of a company planning a new product introduction.  At the end of the meeting Jim had five leads, one of which led a marketing position several weeks later.  Jim Morgan not only knew how to market consumer goods, he knew how to market himself using a personal commercial

At the beginning of outplacement seminars I ask individuals to tell me what they do for a living Most men and women will tell me they are an accountant, or engineer, or operations manager, or human resource manager, etc..  Occasionally they will embellish this with a title like Vice President of Operations, or Chief Financial Officer, or some equally prestigious sounding phrase.  After listing to a dozen responses I’ll turn to the audience and ask a simple question.  Did they tell me what they do, or did they give me a job title?  Everyone immediately recognizes that the responses did not indicate what they did.

When networking for business or career development we need to go beyond the few words that describe our profession or title by developing a personal commercial.  For example, my title is Career Management and Outplacement Consultant.  However, if you ask me what I do, I would respond by saying that “I help executives, technical, and management level men and women find their next position as quickly as possible and then maximize their long term career potential.”  What do you do?  Can you say it quickly and succinctly?  If not you need to develop a personal commercial.

Your Personal Commercial should ideally be 30 seconds, with 45 seconds as the absolute limit.  The following four step model should help you develop one quickly.  To help you I will use my personal commercial as a model.

Step 1.  Your career field and/or title?

My career field/title: Career Management and Outplacement Consultant

Step 2.  In 25 to 30 words describe what you do.

Again, using myself as an example:

I help executives, technical, and management level men and women find their next position as quickly as possible and then maximize their long term career potential.”

Now add another sentence that will communicate a better idea of what you do by giving information about the level, range, or scope of your experience.  It is helpful if you can quantify your experience, as numbers add impact and believability.  Here for example is what I use:

“In that capacity I have worked with recent college graduates to executives earning $350 thousand annually, and companies ranging in size from start-up to Fortune 50.”

Here are some more examples to help you complete step 2 of your Personal Commercial:

“In that capacity I have closed sales from $5 to $5 million.”

“In that capacity I have been in charge of budgets ranging from $200 thousand to $100 million.”

“In that capacity I have been in charge of facilities anywhere from a few thousand square feet to 300,000 square feet.”

Step 3.  Describe exactly what you are looking for.

Many job hunters are not specific enough in describing the type of position they are seeking, usually because they fear missing out on opportunities.  The reality is that people are not likely to offer contacts if they do not know exactly what you want.  If I were looking for a job here is what I might say:

“Currently I’m looking for a position as a senior consultant with a large national outplacement company with offices in Orange County California where I can work with senior executives from Fortune level companies.”

Notice how specific you should be.  Briefly describe the job function and the level of the position you want, and the geographic location.  If you are willing to relocate, say so, “For the right position I am willing to relocate anywhere on the West Coast,” or wherever in the nation or the world you would relocate.

Step 4.  Ask about organizations with problems you can cure.

99.8 percent of the time when a job hunter ask anyone if they know of an opening they get a blank expression followed by the word “no”.  A much more effective approach is to ask about problems you can solve, and to ask using an open ended question.  This is exactly what Jim Morgan did.  He did not ask, “does anyone know of an opening for a marketing manager,” a closed ended question that can be answered yes or no. Instead he used an open ended question focused on problems he could solve.

“Who do you know who may be aware of an Orange County Company experiencing declining sales? or who do you know that may be aware of a company planning a new product introduction?”

Using the four steps and the examples above, write a draft of a personal commercial for yourself.  Once you have created a draft read it into a tape recorder and listen to it and time it.  Revise it as many times as you need to until it is between 30 and 45 seconds and gets your message across.  Then learn it so well that you can go through it confidently in groups like chambers of commerce or professional associations.  Learn it so well that you can drop elements of it into one-on-one conversations.  If you develop, rehearse and use a personal commercial you will be amazed at the contacts you will make.

Published in: on January 5, 2010 at 2:12 am  Leave a Comment