GUEST BLOG – 5 great tools for boosting commercial awareness

We all know how important commercial awareness is in the graduate market. What’s less clear is how exacly we go about improving it. Watching the news once in a while unfortunately isn’t enough. Here are 5 resources which can certainly help.

1. We Seed

A basic understanding of investing and the stock market is going to be hugely beneficial. In some graduate jobs it’s more important than others. But if being commercially aware is relevant to your job sector at all, you should at least know a bit about it. Weseed.com is a safe and fun way to do this. You can research companies by looking at their financials and news, then you can decide whether to buy shares or not. You have a virtual $10000 to invest. There is also an excellent learning section on the site which takes you from the basics, like “What is money?”, through to the more advanced stuff like “Corporate Actions”.

2. Google Alerts

Reading general newspapers, or watching the news on television gives you quite a broad view of commercial awareness. While this is useful you also want to know the latest stories in your sector. And within your sector there could be an even more specific niche area. So you could be studying law and want to know all of the latest EU law news. Google alerts is the perfect tool for this. It emails you when it finds a new news story which matches a pre-defined phrase. So for the example above your search term could simply be “EU Law”. Just enter it like you would a normal Google search and save.

3. Social Media

Yes you can actually use social media for something useful! What you should do is follow influential people / companies in your subject area. Twitter is probably best for doing this, but Facebook is useful too. By doing this you’ll essentially see a train of thought. You may see the launching of products or recent news & legislation being discussed. So you literally can see what’s on the mind of companies / experts before your interview. If you can interact with some of these people then even better!

4. Real life networking

Don’t just put all your effort into online opportunities. Get out there and make the most of careers fairs, sponsored events and work experience. You should grab all opportunities to speak to someone who actually needs to be commercially aware in their day to day life. They can give you some excellent advice and you can use the opportunity to answer some of the burning questions you may have. Sometimes approaching someone over social media, isn’t the best idea, especially if it’s completely out of the blue. But at careers fairs or on work experience it’s expected that you’ll have a fair few questions to ask.

5. The Financial Times App

We all know that keeping up to date with the latest business news is essential. It should be a continuous and consistent process rather than something which can be done all in one go. The Financial Times App is perfect for this. It’s available for both Apple and Android devices, which means you can keep up to date with the latest news on the go. Perfect for when you have a spare 5 minutes. You can even store content for offline use. Unfortunately it requires a subscription to The Financial Times.

This post was written by Mark Jackson, owner and writer for law careers website StudyingLaw.co.uk. Further information on legal based commercial awareness can be found at http://studyinglaw.co.uk/understanding-demonstrating-commercial-awareness