What is commercial awareness?
You may have heard the term ‘commercial awareness’ on application forms and in your careers departments, but, what does it mean? How do you get it? And, how can you demonstrate that you have it? These are the questions that any grad should be able to answer in order to say that they are commercially aware.
Put simply, commerce is business and largely what keeps the world and the economy moving. Whichever employer you choose to send an application to will either be a business themselves or work in close proximity with one. Thus, it’s important to understand how the business operates, what its strengths and weaknesses are, what the business hopes to achieve in the next five to ten years and where the business is positioned in the market.
Why? Well, the important word is context. As a future employee you need to understand the context of the day to day work you and your employers are conducting. For instance, if you work in an advertising agency it would be a good idea to read up on the local press to stay up to date on recent market developments. This will be beneficial when representing the business externally.
How to demonstrate your awareness?
It’s often quite difficult, at first instance, to demonstrate that you have the requisite commercial awareness for most companies. However, there are clever ways of doing this. In your interview it’s always a good idea to ask some questions and there is no better way to demonstrate that you’ve done your research and that you are commercially aware. A good tip is to try and find the answers to the following questions:
The answers should help you identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that the business is facing. This can also be really useful because you can take a step back and identify how you can contribute and what differentiates you from other applicants.
Where can you get it?
There are masses of resources available online to help you develop your commercial awareness, however, a lot will depend on the industry you are trying to enter. There are many, industry specific, magazines or online materials that discuss developments and latest news. Also look out for developments in other industries that could affect the business you are applying to. If you understand the major problems you can focus your efforts on being part of the solution.