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When you're trawling through job ads there are certain phrases that can leave you stumped. Commercial awareness is one phrase which crops up time and time again. But what does commercial awareness have to do with me, you cry? In fact, what on earth is commercial awareness and why do I even need it?

Graduate employers really want it and if you're a student that understands it, then you're in with a great chance of landing the role you really want.

Use the following information about commercial awareness to explore the diverse range of opportunities available at leading UK businesses and make yourself stand out.

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What is commercial awareness?

In a nutshell, commercial awareness is about knowing what's going on in a company and an industry as a whole. It's also about knowing where you fit into that puzzle.

Imagine you're already working - do you know what value your position has in the company, both from a financial and service perspective?

What if you work at a coffee shop where you serve drinks and clear tables - what does that have to do with commercial awareness? Well how many times have you stopped going to cafes/restaurants due to poor service or bad food? The impact of losing you as a customer is commercial;

You stop going - the business loses money - the immediate commercial effect is loss of custom

You tell others about your poor experience and they chose not to go - bigger commercial impact

Then to broaden that to:

If I worked there, is this how I would like to be served? What else could sell well and compliment what's on offer?

How much would it cost to provide those additional items and would that be appropriate to the customer base? How could you let people know about this improved offering?

Now you are thinking commercially.

Have questions? Speak to our Official Rep: https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/member.php?u=3058708

Why do employers value it?

Business want to make money and turn a profit. To do that they need people who can do a bit of "blue sky thinking" embark on "disruptive innovation" and think "out of the box". More business jargon right? Yes, but all that really means is you come up with cracking ideas to improve a business. Balance your amazing, progressive ideas with the cost of implementing them and you’re a real asset to any business – in short, you’re commercially aware.

How do I become commercially aware?

How often have you said or thought, if that was my business I’d do x/y/z! So think that onto the next step – how does that add value to customers or how would the idea encourage new custom? How much would it cost to set up? And who does this already? Can I do this better, more efficiently for less cost?

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It's interview time -

what will you say?

OK so now you are at an interview and the dreaded question comes up – Can you give me an example of where you have shown commercial awareness?

You don’t need work experience to be commercially aware, do your research about the companies that interest you – what are the benefits of their wins and the prices of their failures. But your own examples are always the best and it can be as simple as:

I was raising money for a charity and realised that I raised more selling cakes outside the college bar than standing in the student union with a collection tin. So I rallied some more volunteers and we sold cakes at closing time outside the campus bars. Taking off the cost of making the cakes we still made more in one night than five days with a collection tin.

Have questions? Speak to our Official Rep: https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/member.php?u=3058708

So now is the time practice:

At Capita we understand the value of commercial awareness. Take a look at the range of diverse opportunities at http://www.capita.com/careers/ or ask our Official Rep here: