Developing the skills graduate employers really want – Commercial awareness

  January 11, 2017

What the hell is commercial awareness?

Definitely not something you get taught at university, unless you happen to be doing economics or something similar, that's for sure, but something that's going to be very important once you get your hands on a job after university.

It doesn't matter what you do for a job or who you work for; your employer will have a commercial agenda for their products, and unless you understand the market and commercial elements of the business it's going to be hard to make any real impact.

But when it comes to trying to demonstrate company specific commercial awareness in a job application, there's some good news; while most companies think it's an important skill, it's not one they will necessarily expect you to have extensive knowledge of, so don't panic. That being said it's something you do need to think about when you join a business – what are they trying to achieve? Who are their competitors? What does the market look like for your industry? Showing an interest in these things (even at interview stage) will really help you to demonstrate you're actually interested in the business (even if you're not), and it will also help you understand how your role will contribute to the company's success, and even help you decide if it's the right place for you.

However on a more fundamental level commercial awareness is also about understanding the world of work, and this is something you should have thought about, and hopefully have some experience in, whether through volunteering, work experience or involvement in university societies. This side of commercial awareness is about appreciating what will be expected of you in the workplace; and if you have volunteered or done work experience, hopefully you've already got a rough idea (i.e. being reliable, being an ambassador for the organisation, working hard etc.). If these aren't skills you think you already have then find a way to develop them, and quickly because these will be important no matter where you apply for work.

Go great commercial awareness? Show it off to employers today by completing your HappyWork profile.