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It’s nearly Christmas….are you commercially aware?

Whether you have hit the high street or searched online for some pre-Christmas bargains, savvy shoppers and retailers are about to enter a manic phase of the year. If your understanding of commercial awareness is related to the best price comparison sites or where to buy the cheapest coffee on campus then you really must read on as this article may just help in your future career!
Employers and Careers Advisers alike will throw back their head and proffer that you must show commercial awareness if you are to stand even the slightest glimmer of hope in the ever competitive graduate employment market. Faced with such an image (admitted a careers adviser with their head thrown back may not be the most intimidating sight you will come across at university) it is not easy to utter the words “but what is commercial awareness?”

Essentially, it can be summarised as an informed knowledge base of an organisation and the sector or environment in which it operates. Depending on the sector in which you are interested, this could involve understanding some of the targets or economics of the organisation, how they are placed in the sector or who the competitors and major players are. It could encompass the wider market in which the organisation operates or an understanding of what the future may hold for that sector for example in terms of change or technological advance. Commercial awareness can also extend to customer or client base, and having a depth of knowledge on trends or issues affecting this group, and of course then being able to relate your graduate attributes and personal knowledge and abilities to show that you are well placed to deliver on the employer demands.

If this all sounds too much and you are already contemplating abandoning your graduate career and returning to find a free delivery code for your holiday purchases, then be aware that help is at hand. The Careers and Employability Service have a range of seminars on campus, online information and offer 1-1 guidance to help in the wider area of graduate job search, which involves the development of commercial awareness, since we would always advise that you research an organisation that you are applying to or are interested in working with.

Broadly, have a look at our literature as well as industry magazines, journals and blogs and certainly the company website. Use social media smartly – research use of LinkedIN or try and follow appropriate Tweets from the company and organisations in the sector, and attend conferences or fairs if appropriate – many can be attended virtually or you can follow Tweets from individuals in attendance or fair organisers which give a real feel of what is going on and can equip you with key sector knowledge. Direct contact (meetings, emails, visits) or experience (placements, internships, volunteering) with organisations can also lead to deeper commercial awareness and should be explored.

So be smart and get commercially aware. You might just grab a bargain AND get ahead in the job market……..

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