- knowledge about the current issues facing the employment sector that interests you
- having an understanding of the workplace – what are the risks, is customer satisfaction and loyalty built, how important is innovation?
- ability to present a business case
- ability to view events and circumstances from a business perspective.
According to UCAS, commercial awareness can be defined as 'understanding the economics of business. Understanding the business benefits and the commercial realities from both the organisation's and the customer's perspectives'.
It is tempting to think that commercial awareness just applies to business. The term is perhaps misleading and it might be better to think about "sector awareness" instead. The key issue is that if you want to work in a particular sector, employers expect you to have an understanding of it.
Commercial awareness may cover
- Knowledge of the company and the market environment it operates in
- Competition and how the market may affect business decisions
- Thinking critically about an organisation and how it has responded to circumstances
Organisations do not work in isolation. They are all affected by competitors (even charities operate within a market and compete with each other for funding and contracts), public policy, the media and many different stakeholders. So think about the organisations you are interested in applying to and consider the environment in which they operate.
No matter what sector you wish to work in, it is important to have a good overview of business and the economy. At the very least you should be reading quality newspapers (e.g. The Guardian, Financial Times, The Telegraph, The Times, The Independent) on a weekly, if not daily, basis. If you want to work in finance, The Economist is essential reading. There are often great student deals for subscribing to these publications. The college shop may be able to buy in specific publications - ask them for details.
Improving your Commercial Awareness