Employers can't get enough of it, and look for it more and more. So you need to have it, probably without even knowing what it is. So what does commercial awareness mean, and how can you improve your job prospects by displaying it?
If we strip it back, commercial awareness is simply knowing about the company you work for - or want to work for – and the challenges it faces. Understanding the difference between profit, cash flow and profit, for example, could prove the difference between getting the job or not. And knowing how your prospective employer is doing on the stock market can never harm, can it?
Demand for employment is rising all the time, with less jobs and more people qualified to do them. So employers want more bang for their buck. A recent survey even suggested that a whopping 67% of employers think commercial awareness is the most underrated skill in graduates they interview. So, ignore it and you're severely limiting your potential, basically.
Luckily, the solution is pretty straightforward; it just takes a little commitment and research. A plethora of magazines exist on this subject; simply find one that represents the industry you're looking to get into, and you're well away.
Don't underestimate the power of a chat. Know someone who already works in the industry you're interested in? Ask them how it's going. And listen! Even if you're not best mates with someone's auntie whose son works in banking, in the social media age there's no excuse for being deterred. Power up your Twitter account or utilise LinkedIn, and the commercial awareness world is your oyster.
Found the business you want to work for? Bingo. Go digging. How have they ended up where they are today? How's their business model? How are they doing on the FTSE index? What makes them a market leader?
If all else fails, get your sleeves rolled up and get stuck in. Giving a little of your spare time helping out in a business gives you an invaluable – and quick – idea of the challenges one faces. A little investment here can pay off in the long run.
The key here is that no-one will expect you to rock up to an interview and unleash reams of statistics, company history etc. This isn't a research project. But showing a little interest in the bigger picture, rather than just your role, can make all the difference. After all, the interviewer may have seen a thousand applicants of the same calibre; and commercial awareness could just make you stand out amongst the crowd.
Want support in progressing your career? Chat to one of our friendly career advisors at Pitman Training Swords. Email email@example.com or call 01 840 4075 to book an appointment.