Your Career in the Fast Lane

Dec 2, 2009

Career and job satisfaction is a job unto itself when it comes to the toil of answering “who I am and what am I truly qualified for” in the automotive and motorsports industry. One can look to job satisfaction as a paramount indication of lasting in a chosen profession but you might ask yourself, how do I really get into the hot laps of career decision building?

First it’s important to know that in recent studies, job dissatisfaction is widespread among workers of all ages across all income brackets. According to the Conference Board, a world-wide known research organization specializing in consumer confidence indexing and economic indicators, surveys over the past 40 years have shown that 40 to 50 percent of workers would change their line of work if they could. You might now ask yourself, “Where do I really fit and is my chosen field of endeavor most suitable for me in the long run? Or is this just a dream?”

Bring in the SWOT

It is important to identify your personal SWOT analysis when taking account of your goal and job satisfaction direction. After all you don’t want to burn out on yourself nor your employer. Nor do you want the lack of enthusiasm or satisfaction to wrestle you down when all you may truly require is an assessment of your specific job self. You might ask, what is SWOT and how can it identify what I’m best suited for in an industry that I truly enjoy? To start out, SWOT represents: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Common to business planning, SWOT is also a valid tool of discovery of one’s self and the direction or remedy necessary to gain the fix toward your dream job.

You might ask how this really fits your personal path of career development. A familiar statement is, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” As such I recommend you start with knowing yourself. Through SWOT you’ll recognize the integration of both internal and external features as you form a solid foundation and competitive advantage. This requires a match between the strengths and weaknesses of self and current opportunities and threats which will provide you a simple overview of your strategic situation day-to-day.

In practice a SWOT analysis of yourself or your business provides a snapshot view of your current situation. It is also suggested that you revisit your personal snapshot at least twice annually to gain an improved perspective as a continuous motion model. As an example, if you are looking for superior profitability and are forward-thinking, you will likely use your current capabilities to position yourself for opportunities yet to come. In short, the high-performance person of the future will be the person that improves on today’s capabilities to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

Outside-in and inside-out personal evaluation comes together in the SWOT model to help a person indentify opportunities that match the venture. You can then determine the best opportunity by asking yourself a few additional questions:

Will the career opportunity lead to others in the future?

Will the career opportunity help to build skills that open the door to new opportunities in the future?

Breaking Down the Elements

A variety of elements are suggested as you develop a personal profile of the internal factors strengths and weaknesses as well as the external factors such as opportunities and threats. Note the elements of a personal SWOT analysis below:

Positive Factors/Internal/Strengths

  • Important personal core competencies
  • Innovative capacity
  • Personal skill sets
  • Ability to plan strategies
  • Ability to combat competitive threats
  • Positive reputation
  • Technology skilled

Negative Factors/Internal/Weaknesses

  • Inadequate skill sets
  • Poorly planned personal strategy
  • Lack of experience
  • Inadequate innovation
  • Negative reputation
  • Inadequate personal marketing skills

Positive Factors/External/Opportunities

  • Personal market potential
  • Geographic flexibility
  • Favorable shift in industry dynamics
  • Potential to grow the market
  • Knowledge of emerging technologies

Negative Factors/External/Threats

  • Better prepared competitors
  • Rising demands of employers
  • Inability to adapt to shifting orsubstitute products
  • Inability to shift in a new business cycle
  • Inability to cope in a slow market
  • Inability to change customer preferences
  • Inability to adapt in adversedemographic shifts

Looking Ahead

As you look at 2009 and beyond consider this a fresh start in the evaluation of your personal SWOT analysis. As a key to future personal job development, consider improving as opposed to reflecting on past innuendoes of either misdirection and/or failure. Instead develop a positive approach to your wants, needs and job desires.Â

You might question where you fit with your personal assessment of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. An indicator of an initial strength is that you are in the aftermarket or motorsports industry. And being in the front door is a positive affirmation. With an open door you can be your own guiding light as you project and build from your personal analysis of SWOT.

Also, people currently in tech schools, community colleges, or advanced education at colleges and universities pursuing the steps to rounding out skill sets and launching or enhancing their job strengths have a defined edge. Education is at the forefront of employers seeking talent, responsibility, edgy clear-cut critical thinkers and people they can count on. The obvious first steps in getting further up the food chain and/or truly inside the inner core of your job is through internships may start with enhancing our education skill sets and thus lead in a competitive way. Companies such as Mobile One, Firestone, and even the Indianapolis Motor Speedway create paths for young people to enhance their skills in the real world through internships which create real world experiences. This translates to being job ready and from an employer’s eye, qualified for that career ladder climb to the top.

Many of the internships afforded to enterprising young people lead to full time career opportunities. Even if the prospect of employment is not with a major company, you’ll find it most advantageous to have the pristine name brand of a major company on your resume. I suggest to my Marian College motorsports management students to get the value of a job that will springboard you to the next level no matter what the pay in the internship. Pitching burgers may pay for tuition but working for the likes of a name brand enterprise is of immense and lasting value and enhances their SWOT profile early on in their career in the aftermarket and motorsports industries.

Think of building your ’09 model self the same way you organize your toolbox. You have the toolbox but in which drawer goes which tool? Some trial and error may be the immediate issue, but consider your options, select the proper placement and even the tray liner. You’ll note that reconstructing self is accomplished much the same way. Careful selection, understanding your personal SWOT analysis, choosing advantages one step at a time and preparing to meet the competition head-on is not only stimulating but a must-do in the real world of employment and job decision-making.

Copious dedication to your dream job is critical to your overall satisfaction of life. It is where you spend a great deal of your awake day. It is a valid part of your life, as well as your future. Prepare as if you were to spray NOS off the line, for each lap is a day you’ll never have afforded to you again. Take a proactive stance in understanding your options in a changing economy by first understanding yourself and the options before you. This is not a cumbersome exercise but perhaps the time of the year you can put aside what isn’t so important and reflect on what is important for your future. Establish personal inventory skill set guidelines, set realistic goals, get to evaluate your personal SWOT profile and reestablish your SWOT exercise every 90-120 days. You might call it dialing yourself in for the long haul. What a great investment in yourself.