Top five commercial awareness pointers when watching, listening to, or reading the news

That little thing called commercial awareness is incredibly important for a finance career, whether you’re at the stage of trying to nail an internship or on your first school leaver or graduate job, or you’re a top investment banker reeling in the mega money for your clients.  Here are five quick pointers on how you can hone your commercial awareness skills as you dip into the news:

Widen your horizons

Of course, the business section of any publication—print or online—is going to be your friend and ally when it comes to commercial awareness throughout your career. But don’t narrow your news hound time to the business pages alone! Commercial awareness is about understanding the impact of a whole manner of events on your chosen industry area and the sectors in which you work and are considering working. Social, political and environmental events will all have an impact on the financial markets, whether overtly or covertly, so it’s essential for you to keep well informed on these developments too in order to anticipate changes in behaviours in your chosen industry.

Put yourself in a business position

Always look at an industry development and news story and think about it from a business perspective. It’s almost like a kind of role play: Imagine what each scenario will mean for a company you want to work for. How might it affect your work in a role you’re aiming to slot into? If you’ve done some work experience, then this will help you to picture the impact. And if you’re about to head into a finance internship, don’t forget to be observant of how these stories do affect the business and the various roles and tasks in the company.

Get following online

The beauty of the modern age means that there are now so many ways for you to engage with the news and developments as they break. Follow top industry players on social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter. This way, you can cut out a lot of sifting through less relevant news and receive instant alerts on the opinions and perspectives of top companies you’re interested in working for.

Use your time wisely

You might think that some of the guys you see on the train in the mornings perusing the papers with their iPads are just making a good job of posing. But times like these are actually some of the best moments to get a commercial awareness fix. If you’ve got a reasonable amount of time on your commute in the mornings, it’s actually a great chance to get in the commercial awareness zone and catch up on the latest goings-on. And if you’re on the lookout for a job at the moment, then try not to get too down in the dumps; be proactive in expanding your commercial awareness with the spare time you have as you apply for jobs.

Suss out which business issues interest you

This one is especially important if you’re aiming to break into a finance career. With so much news out there, you might want to think about identifying a couple of key areas that really strike a chord with you. Maybe it’s a particular geographical area, or financial market? The reason for this is that it’s something you can bring out in an interview that will really demonstrate your interests in the industry, and show you have a bit more personality and opinions about you than the Average Joe in the market! If you’re a school leaver going for an apprenticeship or school leaver programme then you could really impress with thoughts on this; the company will be looking for you to demonstrate potential to build commercial awareness and not necessarily have bags of it already!