S-W-O-T: Another version of “Ask what you can do…”

Those in career transition – seeking new careers or new jobs – are frequently encouraged to be proactive in their search.  Coaches use words such as “brand,” “value proposition,” “significant selling points” to describe the “pitch” that candidates must make to stand-out from the crowd – to be a purple cow in a herd of black and white cows. purplecow in herd

Recently, I’ve been trying to generate some buzz around this concept by suggesting that candidates can create value for an organization by responding to what is most needed and least expected.  I’m not sure if the connection is transparent to others, but to me, this concept is reminiscent of the words spoken by John F. Kennedy on Jan. 20, 1961: “Ask not what your country can do for you;  Ask what you can do for your country.” While my version is not so stirring, the concept has a compatible ring for those in career transition.

All this rises to the surface again this week, following the recent death of Ted Sorensen, who was the speechwriter to JFK and probable author of the most famous call to action uttered by the 35th President of the USA.  Media reports have suggested that Sorensen offered a S-W-O-T analysis to Barack Obama in November 2008; it was too late for the President to heed Sorensen’s advice to wait for a better Opportunity to implement his ideas; for a less Threatening political climate.

The burden is on you, the candidate, to understand the needs of the industries and organizations you are interested in; to discover what the strengths and weaknesses of the industry are; to identify people who can add a deeper dimension to your understanding of the needs of the company.  This process is explained by this author and others as S-W-O-T analysis.  Ask what you can do to meet the needs of your future employer…