Commercial Awareness: What does it all mean?

In the hospitality sector, you will hear the term 'commercial awareness' be thrown around a fair bit. Many bosses will expect that their employees are 'commercially aware', but what does this even mean?

What actually is it?

No, it has nothing to do with having an expertise of TV advertisements.

Motivation is the word of the day here. Why a company does what it does is the ultimate way to understanding 'commercial awareness'.

To put it in layman's term, commercial awareness is having a basic understanding of the business world, and seeing things from a wider perspective than just your daily duties and tasks. That doesn't mean you need to be an Alan Sugar in the making, but it shows that you know what you need to do to make a business thrive.

As you climb up the career ladder, you will start gaining more responsibility and you will start making decisions that may directly have an impact on the company. Therefore, companies from the onset will be looking to see if you have these commercial skills, so they may get you to get involved in a group exercise at interview stage. This is why it is vital to make sure you consider this aspect of things when doing your preparation.

How do I get it?

Like all skills, you can only achieve 'commercial awareness' over years of experience. Through general work placements, you will be able to learn how to spot the needs of customers, the marketing of a firm and general company overviews. Whether it is a week's worth of experience, or a full yearly internship, you will find that you become more aware of such matters without even realising it. It is however recommended that you should opt for longer placements to get a real feel of a business and it's wider strategy.

When working somewhere, it is wise to always keep asking questions. Not only will this show interest in the field but it will also teach you more than what your fellow peers know. Only through this way will you be able to stand out from the crowd.

Be sure to use your past experience as a key advantage. Even if you were involved in after-school activities when you were younger, anything is useful. Think about how student societies may have been budgeted or managed, and how you tried to bring in new members.

To further improve your skills in the field, it may also be worth researching online and reading more about the business sector via newspapers. By knowing what is generally going on in the wider world, you can then adopt such knowledge in the hospitality sector. Managers are sure to be impressed that you know hotel profit trends, for example.

The next time you apply for hospitality jobs, be sure to highlight your commercial awareness. It's all business, at the end of the day.

Berkeley Scott provides specialist advice and support to help you find hospitality jobs.