Student talking to employer at a careers event.

January 15, 2014, by Jemma Utley

Research: Essential for essays, essential for job applications

By Pablo Costa, Careers Adviser (Faculty of Engineering)

Employers expect applicants to understand issues that affect not only their organisation but their industry as a whole, this is called commercial awareness. It is important to demonstrate this as it shows that you are serious about the job, know the issues surrounding it and is able to fit into their company quicker. Sources of commercial awareness are everywhere. Some good sources information can be found through TV, radio, newspapers, blogs or on the internet, but be sure to access them on a regular basis in order to keep up to date.

1. What should you be looking for?

If you are applying to a financial institution, for example, it would be beneficial to understand who their competitors are as well as having an understanding of global economics. If you wish to work within the legal area, it would be essential for you to identify with the fields in which you could specialise: banking, commercial, environmental, intellectual property etc. Plus, understanding what current aspects are affecting the legal system would be crucial.

2. TV

If you are looking for career ideas or industry insights you might want to switch on the television. On any given day the BBC, Channel 4, and The Discovery Channel, provide a range of documentaries and programmes related to many types of industries and the public sector.

It is of course, important to realise that many of these programmes have their own agendas and direction, but if you use your critical judgement, there is still a substantial amount of valuable industry and careers information available.
Here are just two of many examples: BBC’s Click highlights technology development, providing design engineers and IT students with sector information and future hi-tech industry trends. These are particularly helpful in understanding which products are likely be developed in the years to come and which organisations will be recruiting. Channel 4’s, The Secret Life of Buildings, not only gives architecture students analysis of building design but ideas about which area in which to specialise.

3. Newspapers, magazines, and journals

The Guardian, The Independent, The Times, and many others, are full of industry information.

All of these publications can provide you with an overview of an industry sector of your choice and will certainly be useful when you are faced with that popular interview question, “what do you know about our industry?”

4. Periodicals and journals

All subject areas have connected publications, for example:

By keeping up to date with the articles in these magazines, you could potentially identify networking opportunities, be informed about sector news and discover career options.

Want to find out more about commercial awareness? Looking for career ideas? Why not book an appointment with one of our advisers on My Career.

Posted in Applying For JobsCareers AdviceGraduate VacanciesWork experience