Employers in all sectors are increasingly keen to recruit graduates with strong commercial awareness, and an opinion to share, yet many students and graduates are still unsure what commercial awareness really means.

‘What are the biggest issues facing our industry today?’ is a question regularly being asked at interview. Would you have an answer? Keep on reading to make sure that you not only have the edge in applications and interviews, but that you also make a great first impression in your new role.

What is Commercial Awareness?

Commercial awareness is understanding how industries and organisations work; how do they generate revenue? Who are their clients? Who are their competitors?

It is not just an awareness of current affairs, it is the ability to analyse and form an opinion on how external events might have an impact on a particular organisation or sector: How decisions made in parliament can affect a charity providing support services to families, how the incoming government might affect funding for the Arts or how conflict on the other side of the world can affect the brewery industry here in the UK. Simply put, it is understanding how everything is connected.

Why is it so valued by Employers?

Regardless of industry, employers are keen to see that you understand and engage in world events. Commercial Awareness demonstrates analytical and problem-solving skills and shows recruiters that you ‘think business’.

Seven steps to build your Commercial Awareness

1. Stay switched on and up to date

Sign up to the LinkedIn Daily Rundown or Bright Network’s weekly commercial awareness update. Listen to The Thinking Commercially podcast, which can be found on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or Google. Check the daily news headlines or subscribe to the City AM midday update. You should also research relevant industry publications for more sector specific news.

2. Show an interest

Take every opportunity to understand how business works. If you have a part time job - ask why certain decisions are made, observe how the company makes its money - speak to friends or family about the industry in which they work. Consider every experience an opportunity.

3. Do your research

Visit a company website but read beyond the first page. Follow its LinkedIn page and social media so you are aware of its most recent activities. Set up a google alert so that each time it gets a media mention, you know about it.

4. Get to know your industry

Read industry reports on CareerHub+ for valuable insights into current trends.

5. Join the dots

Make the links by using analysis tools such as SWOT or PESTLE. These will help you to identify the strengths and weakness of an organisation or sector and explore external factors that might create both challenges and opportunities.

6. Tune in

Join me to find out more in an interactive webinar all about Commercial awareness - why everyone needs it and how to get it on 19 May. Book via the events page on CareerHub.

7. And finally, remember to make use of your Careers Service

Visit CareerHub to find details of events being run by Careers Services in the summer term, including relevant employer presentations, and to browse the careers resources. Book an appointment for tailored one to one careers support - we’re here for you every step of the way.