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Evidencing business skills

Business awareness and customer service skills are key skills you must be able to evidence to a potential employer. You need to articulate how you can apply your understanding of these skills within a business environment. This guides details what customer service and business awareness skills are and how you can evidence them within an application form, CV or at an interview.

The graduates and professionals interviewed in the Standing out videos were in agreement with regards to these skills. Understanding the key drivers of a business was seen as vital. It is important to see the role that you will be playing in the company as part of a whole, rather than an isolated set of duties to be performed without regard for the bigger picture.

Customer service is seen not just as a skill, but as an attitude towards the professional delivery of services, whether it be a request from a colleague within the organisation or from customers and clients. It is being able to listen to people, being able to establish rapport with colleagues and with potential customers and being able to go the extra mile to achieve customer satisfaction.

How to demonstrate and evidence customer service skills

Even if you have never been employed dealing face-to-face with the general public you should still be able to demonstrate that you understand the concept of ‘customer care’ and the positive effect it can have for any organisation. Customer service can be broken down into a series of elements. You need to address each one in order to demonstrate your understanding and to show that you can apply this knowledge. If you can articulate how your actions have added value to the company and why you took a certain course of action you are evidencing good customer service skills and business awareness.

Keeping promises to customers in order to maintain their loyalty

Give an example of when you have satisfied the customer by meeting an obligation to them. This could be over the telephone or face to face.

Be able to discuss the importance of a loyal customer base and how it can be achieved.

Giving a good impression of yourself and the organisation

Show your understanding of the importance of a professional demeanour and appearance when dealing with customers.

Using good communication skills and courtesy

These will be demonstrated at the interview. You will not just be assessed on what you say, but how you say it and how you conduct yourself.

Give an example of when you employed good communication skills to establish a positive relationship with an individual or group of people. This can be a work example or from your university or an extra-curricular activity.

Dealing with complaints

Give an example of when you have resolved a customer’s complaint effectively to their satisfaction.

Be able to discuss how your attitude towards a company changed when they satisfactorily resolved your complaint.

Being proactive

Give an example of when you have had to use your initiative in order to move a task/project forwards or to help a customer that required you to do something before they had to ask.

Solving problems

Give an example of an incident in which you were required to solve a specific problem.

How to demonstrate and evidence business awareness

Business awareness is to do with your knowledge and understanding, rather than demonstration of practical skills.

Project management skills

Give examples of when you have played a part in an academic or professional project, be it at university or connected to an outside interest. You may have led the project or played a key role. Be able to articulate exactly what you did and how effective you were. Be able to show your ability to follow a brief and to meet deadlines.

Sector awareness

Ensure you have knowledge of the sector within which you are hoping to work, be this public, voluntary or private and be able to discuss trends. Look at trade papers and websites of relevant professional organisations.

Selling skills

If you haven’t worked in a business environment you can give examples from your course. Have you ever had to pitch ideas, a concept or course of action to colleagues and to academic staff? Have you had to persuade people to a particular point of view?

Global awareness

Prior to an interview, know if the organisation operates overseas. Does the company have branches abroad? Where are the key markets within which they operate? Give examples to indicate that you can see things from the perspectives of different cultures.

Financial and commercial awareness

Find out about the organisation you hope to work for. If a Public Limited Company (PLC), find out its current financial position. Read the annual report and understand what is being said. Who are their main competitors? If in the public sector, be aware of funding, their latest initiatives and campaigns. How is the organisation structured? Who are the senior managers?


Give examples of when, after having weighed the pros and cons, you have taken a calculated risk, resulting in a positive outcome. What would have been the consequences of you not having taken the risk?

Awareness of the external environment

Be able to discuss lucidly the current issues in relation to economic trends, for example, how Government policy is shaping and affects business decisions and how European issues can impact on a British business.


Future fit: Preparing graduates for the world of work. (2009) Available at: http://www.cbi.org.uk/pdf/20090326-CBI-FutureFit-Preparing-graduates-for-the-world-of-work.pdf (Accessed: November 2010).

Gradfutures: Business Awareness (2010). Available at: http://www.gradfutures.com/career-advice/skills/a-guide-to-skills/business-awareness (Accessed: November 2010).



Basic understanding of the key drivers for business success including the importance of innovation and taking calculated risks and the need to provide customer satisfaction and build customer loyalty.

Confederation of British Industry (CBI) definition of business and customer awareness