Take Control of Your Career Through a SWAG Analysis

Do you feel like your career is stuck in neutral and your professional destiny is in the hands of others? Rookies and seasoned professionals alike experience this sentiment once if not several times throughout their careers. The solution? Take control through a SWAG analysis.

I created the concept of a SWAG analysis after moving from investment banking to venture capital. As an investment banker at Goldman Sachs I found the biannual 360-degree reviews, which are tied to bonuses and other forms of recognition, to be quite effective. But there was no such system in place at the first venture capital firm I joined. My managers were reactive about personal career growth. If I had simply accepted the situation, I would have made very slow progress in my career advancement.

I joined my first venture firm with modest expectations—I would “under-promise and over-deliver.” My salary was below that of all the assistants in the office, and I borrowed money to invest in our fund. Before long, I brought in several new investments that led to great fund successes, and I recruited several high-impact vice presidents for the firm’s portfolio companies. The venture capital partners were appreciative of my achievements, yet that appreciation didn’t translate into a promotion. That’s when I took action through this SWAG analysis, which I presented to my managers:


This SWAG analysis served four purposes:

  1. It conveyed to my managers that I was motivated to grow professionally.
  2. It demonstrated I had the self-awareness to identify both my weaknesses and strengths.
  3. It served as documentation of my accomplishments.
  4. It conveyed that I was focused on delivering on my goals.

My managers reacted positively. Over time they used the SWAG analysis to benchmark my successes every six months. Eventually they promoted me.

The key takeaway here is that you can take control of your career advancement, and the SWAG analysis is a great vehicle for self-evaluation and communication to your managers.

If you’re in a position of leadership at your company, use the SWAG analysis to empower your employees and foster an environment of self-assessment and goal-setting.

Give the SWAG analysis a whirl, and send me a tweet on your thoughts.