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Improving your commercial awareness

A question school leavers often ask us when they are considering applying to join us is how they can make sure that they stand out from the crowd.

We take a closer at Commerciality and what it means for you during your application process – thinking about what commercial awareness actually is and the ways in which you can tap into your own experiences of it, and helping you demonstrate this in a way that makes a difference whether you are applying, attending an assessment centre or being interviewed.

Showing an employer that you that you are clear on the undergraduate or graduate role you are applying for, that you understand the organisation and its role in business or industry on a local and / or global scale can really make the difference. It will widen your perspective and is a basic example of being commercially aware. As well as researching the employer directly, bring yourself up to speed with relevant industry news to help tie together your understanding of business and the role the employer may have within this. Reading titles like the FT, Business Week and The Economist are great places to start and excellent sources of business, finance and industry topics. All contain sector specific sections so if you want to focus on one business area or improve your general business awareness, these can be really useful sources; our beginners guide to using the FT to build commercial awareness will help you navigate the title and use it effectively.

Strengthening your understanding of commercial awareness and how you apply it to your studies, job applications and future role is key, however being appreciative of the long and short-term implications of an action or event is also important for gaining greater perspective and enhancing your commercial awareness and view on events. To create a great impression with any interviewer, be aware of and have an opinion on the bigger picture, as well as a view on an organisation’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

When pulling together your application, in an interview, and throughout your application process is applicable, it’s worth mentioning any commercial experience you’ve had, including volunteering jobs, work placements or summer/weekend jobs, even if they aren’t directly related to the role you’re applying for. To make a deeper impression, demonstrate an understanding of the business or some practical experience where you put your commerciality skills into practice. For instance, when working in a retail, you are likely to have dealt with customers which enhanced your customer service experience and handled cash which was useful when coordinating stock, profit and so on. All together these experiences will add to your skills.

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