UCL Careers


Commercial Awareness Skills

Your ability to gain a deeper knowledge of an industry/sector and keep up to date with the marketplace in which it operates.

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Explore your understanding

Employers are looking for you to have an understanding of their industry as well as the role that you are applying for.

Commercial awareness is not only about having the knowledge of business issues and how this may sit within a larger economic context, but also about having a wider interest in the work that you will be doing.

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Find and develop your skill

Where can you improve your Commercial Awareness skills at UCL? There is a lot of support here to help you develop this skill!

  • Employer–led Skills Session:

    Recognise why and how graduate employers look for commercial awareness in their recruitment by attending an Employer-led skills workshop on Commercial Awareness.
    Develop techniques on developing your commercial awareness in order to apply for jobs and attend interviews.

    Visit myUCLCareers for upcoming events.
  • Students' Union UCL:
    Join a club or society within the Students’ Union to deepen your understand about a particular interest or group. The Students’ Union also offer a variety of skills sessions such that can help strengthen and supporting your learning. 

  • Volunteering:
    UCL’s Volunteering Services Unit partners with more than 400 local charities to promote their volunteering opportunities. Understand more about working with different people in a particular industry, and what kind of realities and challenges faced by their sectors.

  • UCL Careers Opportunities:

    There are many different opportunities here at UCL Careers that can help you develop your commercial awareness.

    Attend a Careers Fair – where you can network with recruiters and employers from a wide range of sectors.

    Book onto an Employer Presentation - where you can meet individual companies delivering presentations and have the opportunities to ask questions and network with those in the business.

    Come along to a sector themed week event – experience a week of events focussed on a specific sector.

    You could also apply for an internship or work experience within a specific sector or industry –where you can learn more about the context a business operates in by gaining real life experience within it.

    For more information about UCL Careers events, please visit the UCL Careers events webpage.

Prepare your examples

Employers will look for evidence of commercial awareness as early as your CV, cover letter or application form – they will look for a genuine understanding and interest in their work and sector. This can also be tested at interview stage. Research more about the industry and develop an understanding of who their competitors are.  What makes them stand out to you as an organisation? Can you identify their specific needs? Are your skills a good match to contribute to their priorities? 

Explore social media: follow key businesses and their posts, and look at a range of company websites.
Read a company annual report (if available) or a news article.

Test yourself: Can you describe the organisation to another person?

What do you think are the challenges the sector will be facing in the next 5 years?

Need some support on how to structure your answers on commercial awareness for an interview?
Visit our Interviews Skills page.

Here you can find out more about how to structure your answer and demonstrate your skills along with many more resources that will help you prepare.

If you have written a draft application for any type of opportunity, our team can provide personalised practical tips and advice to help you better understand how recruiters will shortlist your application, and how you can best demonstrate your motivation and your most relevant skills / experience.