Commercial Awareness: Understand It, Develop It & Use It to Your Advantage


What Is Commercial Awareness?

The Cambridge Business English Dictionary defines commercial awareness as, "the knowledge of how businesses make money, what customers want, and what problems there are during a particular area of business."

Commercial awareness is an understanding of what your company must do to be profitable, achieve success, and serve its customers well. With it, you recognize your organization's core values, biggest competitors, key stakeholders, and current business challenges.

You also know the organization's strengths and weaknesses, and you'll apply that information to form sensible decisions.

Put simply, commercial awareness is all about having some understanding of the business world. It is all about having the ability to seem at situations from a billboard perspective.

This can mean understanding what makes a business successful and appreciating the factors that influence success.

Benefits and Uses

Many companies see commercial awareness as a key requirement in potential recruits.

People who take the time to know how the organization operates and makes a profit – also as how the industry as an entire works – are the type of people who then demonstrate a high level of motivation, interest, and specialize in rock bottom line.

This awareness helps new hires "hit the ground running" and makes informed decisions, right from the start. Commercial awareness also can improve your performance in your current role.

When you understand the industry that you simply add, and skills your role helps your organization compete, you create better decisions, manage risks more effectively, get good prices from suppliers, strengthen your reputation as an expert, and increase your chances of promotion.

Why do I need it?

As your career progresses, it’s likely that you will become more involved in decisions which directly affect your company or organization. However, even at a student level, employers will usually be trying to find you to possess some appreciation of commerciality.

This is likely to be tested at interview level; whether within the sort of direct questioning or during a group exercise. You might be asked questions on topical issues otherwise you could also be required to use commercial considerations to a given scenario.

Without any preparation, you'll end up battling this side of the interview. This can be the difference between getting that crucial job offer and getting a one-way ticket to filling out your next job application; so prepare, prepare and prepare again!

How do I get it?

Commercial awareness isn't something that you simply just suddenly ‘get’. You have to work hard to build it up over time. However, you'll develop your commercial awareness during a number of various ways.

The different ways are as follows:

Work experience

Any quite work experience, either voluntary or paid, will enhance your commercial awareness in how. For example, albeit you only worked during a retail or telesales role over the summer holidays, you ought to be ready to answer the subsequent questions:

• What did you learn about the company?

• How were the needs of clients or customers met?

• How did the organization market itself?

It’s important to realize the proper amount of labor experience. You could undertake some short periods of labor experience that last for every week approximately, internships that last for a couple of months or a ‘sandwich placement’ that lasts for a whole year.

When you’re performing at these companies, ask many questions and check out your best to know the inner-workings of the business. This will also show the corporate that you’re genuinely curious about their industry. You never know, if you impress them together with your enthusiasm and inquisitiveness, you'll automatically be considered for future vacancies!

Extra-curricular activities

Think about the varied extra-curricular activities that you simply are involved in, take a step back and appearance at them from a billboard perspective.

Did you manage a student society? Did you publicize any events or deal with budgets and cost considerations? How did you attract new members?

The more you question your actions and their motivations, the more comfortable you will become when it comes to discussing their commercial implications.

Improving Commercial Awareness

There are varieties of belongings you can do to enhance your commercial awareness:

Read the business news:

Read the business pages of newspapers and general interest economic magazines like The Economist, readily available online. These will give you a good grounding in the general financial and economic situation in the world.

If you’re trying to find add a specific sector, you ought to also read the specialist press for that sector. See our page: Critical Reading for ideas on how you'll make your reading simpler.

Watch or listen to the news channel:

Most large news agencies broadcast programs that focus on business news. These can help you understand more about the business world generally as well as staying up-to-date with developments in relevant sectors of industry.

Keep an eye on the markets:

The success of the many larger organizations is decided by their stock and share values. It is often useful to possess a general idea of whether stocks and shares of relevant organizations are rising or falling.

This information is quickly available within the financial press both in print and online. Significant rises and falls within the perceived value of a corporation are often reported on news channels.

Think about what you’ve learned from any job or work experience:

Think about the organization you worked in, and consider what you know about its customers, its sector and the broader environment in which it operates (and here, it can be helpful to believe political, economic, social and technological aspects separately), its competitors and anything you'll consider about the way it operates and why it's successful or not.

Reflect on what you think can be generalized, and what you think might be sector- or company-specific. See if that matches with other companies that you simply realize. See? You’re already becoming commercially aware.

Brush up on your basic skills, especially your numeracy and, if possible, statistics:

There’s little or no more embarrassing than being presented with a graph in an interview and wondering which high it goes. And percentages what exactly is a percentage increase? Take a glance at our Numeracy Skills pages, including Percentages and Percentage Change to ascertain.

Take on voluntary roles

It will help improve your commercial awareness. For example, does an area club need someone to require on a project? Does your children’s school PTA or similar group need a treasurer?

Roles like this may increase your understanding of how organizations find or make money, and the way they judge how well it's getting used.


Commercial awareness may be a highly-valued skill within the current employment market. With public and voluntary sectors facing increased levels of competition for service provision, and therefore the tight global economic position, this is often perhaps not surprising.

But it’s also a comparatively easy skill to develop with a touch application and thought, especially if you've got some work experience already.

Written by - Umme Amara Shaikh

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