Have you ever wondered why being commercial is relevant to you? There was a recent survey conducted by the Association of Graduate Recruiters in the United Kingdom about the most important skills for college graduates entering the workforce in the twenty-first century. I expected that the top skills for graduates would be teamwork and problem solving. I was surprised when I read the survey results. What was the number-one skill that the Association of Graduate Recruiters thought graduates were missing?

The top skill shortage, according to employers across multiple industries, was commercial awareness. Some 67 percent of employers chose commercial awareness over communication, leadership, teamwork, and problem solving (see Table 10.1).

Table 10.1 Top Skill Shortages Among Graduates

Skill Percent of Employers Surveyed
1. Commercial Awareness 67%
2. Communication 64%
3. Leadership 33%
4. Teamwork 33%
5. Problem Solving 32%

Source: Association of Graduate Recruiters, “Skills for Graduates in the 21st Century”.

What exactly is commercial awareness? Different employers have different interpretations of what commercial awareness means for their business and industry. Some professional services firms refer to it as the business case for your promotion or your ability to win new business for the firm.

In general, commercial awareness is an understanding of a business, product, or service; how to create that product or ...

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