Four Ways to Improve Your Commercial Awareness

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Commercial awareness has become a buzzword over the last few years. Regardless of industry or sector, employers are keen to see that you understand and engage with the world outside of the university bubble.

Here we share four top tips on how to improve your own commercial awareness to ensure you are giving yourself the best chance in your applications... 

1. Stay switched on & up-to-date

It's easy in the midst of term-life to not look beyond the university paper and for 'news' to refer to the latest activities on campus.

Staying up-to-date doesn't have to be long and laborious, nor does it mean reading the FT cover to cover on a daily basis.

An excellent first port of call is Radio 4’s Today programme – their flagship news and current affairs programme. As well as telling you what’s happening in the world, this programme often sets the news agenda. It’s on from 6am until 9am, but with iPlayer, there’s no excuse for those of you who aren’t early risers.

Other programmes on Radio 4 to look out for are Evan Davies' business conversations programme, The Bottom line - great for gaining insights into strategy and business and The Media Show – all about the fast-changing media world.

Another excellent tip is to sign up for Google Alerts for top companies and leaders so that you receive breaking news directly to your inbox. 

2. Get to know the lingo, the companies and the experts

Every industry has a set of major players, commentators and industry experts. Do your research and get familiar with these so that you recognise key names and influencers.

One of the best ways in which you can get to grips with a particular sector is to join sector-focused university societies and/or commercial awareness clubs. Take advantage of what university can offer you - reading about news and current affairs is only one part of it – you need to get used to talking about it too and that’s where societies can come in.

3. Have a point of view

Knowing the facts about an industry is important but having a sound point of view on them will help you to stand out further.

Citing detailed regulatory changes is all well and good but what do you think it means for the industry? Is it good or bad and if you were CEO, what would you do? 

Start applying a spot of analytical thinking – and you’ll soon find yourself becoming more informed.

4. Do it yourself - get some experience

One of the best ways to learn more about an industry is to work in it. Whether it's an insight day or a week-long placement, experience helps you to better understand how a company and sector works. In addition, you’ll strengthen your CV and start to identify whether you’re suited to and enjoy working in that industry.

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And finally, stay up to date with the main business and political stories each week by signing up to our Commercial Awareness update. Bright Network members can update your profile and tick Commercial Awareness to receive the weekly roundup straight to you inbox.