As much as it is important to have good education, it is equally important to possess commercial awareness. You might have heard employers asking you if you are “commercially aware” during job interviews. This term is all about an understanding of the world of business. How much do you know about what makes a business successful? Can you look at issues from a commercial perspective? As you progress in your career, you are bound to make decisions that affect the organisation you are working for.
This is the precise reason employers ask this question directly or in form of a group exercise during interviews. They may ask questions related to commercial topics or those that will require you to apply commercial knowledge to given scenarios. It may give you a hard time to shine on this side of the interview if you have little or no understanding of commercial awareness. It would be so unfortunate if you lost the job because of little preparation of this sought-after knowledge.
How the do I get it?
In order to be commercially aware, you have to work hard to earn it. It doesn’t just happen suddenly, it takes some time. Look at the following two ways that sharpen our commercial awareness;
1. Work Experience
Any form of work experience including industrial attachments, voluntary and paid jobs, internships and many more enhance your commercial awareness. Ensure that you are able to answer the following questions while at it;
• How does the organisation perform its marketing?
• What are the lessons I can learn from this company?
• How is their customer service?
• Do they meet customer’s needs?
Make sure you gain enough experience during your internships and volunteer jobs especially by asking plenty of questions. This shows the company that you take your work seriously and you never know, you could be the next employee to be hired!
2. Engage in Extracurricular Activities
There is a wide range of activities you can participate in, that can give you an opportunity to look at them from a commercial perspective. Some include student societies, management of events and being in positions where you have to deal with budgets/cost considerations. Are you able to attract new members? Can you manage to make any event public? Question your motivations and actions more and in turn become more comfortable discussing their commercial implications.
Improvement of Commercial Awareness
AllAboutCareers: One of the ways of improving on your awareness of the commercial world is through deliberate effort of checking the news section of AllAboutCareers as often as you can. The daily news feeds posted on their website helps in developing one’s industry knowledge. You may want to go ahead and create a profile with AllAboutCareers in order to receive these daily posts on your notice board daily.
Newspapers: Guardian, The Times, Telegraph and Financial Times are extremely important broadsheet newspapers with information about the world of business. Be sure to read them and find out the issues and developments affecting your industry of specialisation.
Company Websites: Before making applications to particular companies, ensure you research on the current activities of the company. Some of the activities you can check out include publications released recently and any articles in the press about that company.
The days of losing out on a job because you are not commercially aware are over. It’s time to move from a complacent level to an all-rounded and effective one. Do not give your potential employers any reason not to hire you. Let them know that you possess both the academic background as well as deep understanding of the commercial world.
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