Recently the Cass Placement Team and CityCareers have had feedback from several employers that students need to develop their commercial awareness. This blog aims to set out some key ways you can improve your commercial awareness to help you stand out at application and interview.
What is commercial awareness?
Commercial awareness refers to your knowledge of the industry you are hoping to join and it is a key skill employers look for in students and graduates. According to the recent Institute of Student Employers Annual Survey 79% of graduate employers look for commercial awareness but only 15% of new graduates have it!
How is it measured?
You may see interview or application questions such as:
- What are the recent developments in our industry?
- Who are our competitors and how do we differ?
- Tell us a recent news story and how it might affect our business
- What services do we provide to our clients?
How can I develop it?
- Read a good quality newspaper such as the Financial Times (FT), Economist or Bloomberg regularly to keep up to date
- All City students can have free access to the FT & Economist via the library
- Read/subscribe to industry related magazines/websites. Useful ones to be aware of for Cass students are
- Research the organisation in depth before you go interview. Watch our video from the Great Grad Job Hunt with more details on how to do this.
- Attend careers events and/or get work experience to learn from companies about the real issues facing their businesses
- Lena from the Great Grad Job Hunt has more tips
What frameworks can help?
When analysing a company or industry you can use these frameworks to help structure your analysis or think of issues from different perspectives.
- SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) – some of the library databases such as Marketline Advantage publish SWOT analyses of big companies as well as giving their key competitors, employee information, history and major products and services
- PESTEL (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environment, Legal)
- 4 C’s (Customers, Costs, Competitors, Capabilities)
- Porter’s 5 forces (Competitive Rivalry, Supplier Power, Buyer Power, Threat of Substitution, Threat of New Entry)
What resources can help me?