You will no doubt have noticed that more and more companies are advertising for commercial skills when hiring prospective new employees.
I can also tell you from personal experience, that lack of commercial awareness is one of the key reasons that good candidates are rejected at interview stage – “they were really nice, but just lacked the commercial edge we were looking for.”
So what exactly is commercial awareness and knowledge, and is it something that you can learn?
First of all, yes, anyone can learn commercial awareness and knowledge. It does, however, take hard work and dedication to become good at it. It should be noted that commercial knowledge isn’t the same as general knowledge i.e. what is Donald Trump’s foreign policy (does he even know himself!?)
Commercial knowledge refers to a sound understanding of what a business does, how it makes its money, the market in which it operates in and how you and your role can fit into all of this. Often this means considering things such as, how you can increase revenue or market share, customer service levels, improved productivity levels, a better and more efficient team environment, great levels of quality assurance, less waste – I think you get my drift here!
If you want to actively increase your commercial knowledge you can consider these top tips to help you get it right:
- Firstly, you must understand what a business does and have a good understanding of its competitor environment
- Do your research and look at their online presence (e.g. Glassdoor, LinkedIn groups, Twitter feed, Feefo etc) these can give indicators of customer service levels and employee satisfaction rates
- Look out for important events, are there any future projects a company is about to begin working on? What have they done in the past?
- Be aware of how economics can affect that business, for example, Brexit has caused a drop in the value of the pound and increased costs in the retail sector
- Think about the challenges that a business could be facing and formulate ideas on how you can help solve these issues
- If you’re at an interview, a great way to demonstrate your commercial knowledge is to have a couple of ready-made questions prepped and on hand
There is no quick fix here but by putting the effort in, potential employers will give you kudos for trying, even if you don’t get it 100% right! Good luck.
To discuss further, you can email me on James@refind.co.uk.
You can view more about James Cumming our change and business transformation specialist here