Commercial awareness is one of the core skills that employers constantly asked for and mentioned as lacking from students and new graduates.
So, what is commercial awareness? Commercial awareness is the understanding of how industries and businesses work. Employers want to know about your understanding of their business. This includes what they do, their products and services, their marketplace, their unique selling points and how they are different from their competitors. They would also like to know whether you understand their industry as a whole as well as the role that you are applying for.
How you improve your commercial awareness
Employers expect you to have strong commercial awareness. Commercial awareness could be a question in your job application form or at an interview. The strongest candidates will have a clear understanding of how the changes in the business world impact the company.
So how do you prepare for it?
The key thing to build your commercial awareness is to start research early. You could start your research on the industry sector that you are interested and by being aware of the political and economic events that are happening in the industry.
Follow industry news through social media such as LinkedIn and Twitter and check out the trade organisations or professional bodies representing the industry. The university and public library also has a range of business magazines that you can make use of.
Podcasts are another channel for acquiring news about industry. Check out Bright Network’s commercial awareness podcasts, “Thinking Commercially”, which are available on Apple Podcasts or Spotify and get monthly updates on what’s going on in business and industry.
Networking and attending career fairs are good ways to learn about the industry and companies. Talking to experience business leaders and employees of companies will help you gain some insight of the industry and companies. Attending presentations from employers where you can meet individual companies delivering presentations and have the opportunities to ask questions and network with those in the business.
Ultimately, the best way to learn about a company is through insight days, work experience or internship within a specific industry. This opportunity enables you to learn and expose how a business operates. Eluceo has written extensively on these two topics, check them here.
Top photo by Mini Thian via free Unsplash license.