Careers advice: commercial awareness counts

Jason MooreIt has been a very busy start to 2017 for recruitment across both the private and public sectors in planning with opportunities across the UK for graduate planners through to planning directors arising with more frequency. There are very few ‘golden rules’ when it comes to job hunting but the one thing I stress to all planners is the importance of being commercially aware.

Defining commercial awareness is rather simple – it is staying up-to-date with daily happenings and developments within your chosen industry. You would be surprised how few people actually take the time to consider the implications of current affairs on the world of planning and this is often the downfall of even the most talented planner at interview. 

As the market becomes more competitive, it is imperative you make yourself stand out from the crowd. Demonstrating your wider knowledge allows the interview to become less of an interrogation and more of a conversation, a sharing of opinions and development of new ideas.

There are many ways to stay ‘in the know’ nowadays, and the days of purchasing the Financial Times or recording the 6pm BBC News are long gone. After all, how many stories can be run about Donald Trump’s random Twitter outbursts? You’ve already made one useful step in staying commercially aware by visiting the PlanningResource website. It is packed with content that is updated daily with useful articles relating to the issues that your future employer cares about.

Aside from the Planning website, LinkedIn has become a superb tool for planners as many people are sharing their planning success stories and frustrations, sparking debate around topics such as utilising the green belt and who should be hit with the cost of appeals? 

What was once a way of checking what old school friends are up to now they are grown up now allows professionals across the UK to share their opinions on key issues.

You can also brush up on your commercial awareness by getting out of the office and attending events across the UK. Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Young Planner events have been growing in popularity every year and provide you with a superb opportunity to meet fellow professionals at a continuing professional development (CPD) event or a more social environment where you can discuss the latest Housing White Paper with an espresso in hand.

Should you wish to escape the UK then the MIPIM exhibition and conference, held in Cannes annually, provides a superb opportunity for professionals globally from the property sector including planning to come together and share knowledge, experiences and even secure a deal or two.

There is not a right or wrong way to be commercially aware and this list is far from exhaustive. The political landscape is changing across the world and it remains to be seen how Brexit will impact on the wider real estate market in the UK after an unpredictable 2016. What is more certain, is the superb array of opportunities to join consultancies, developers, house builders and local authorities.

To be in with the best chance of making the right move for you in planning, take the time to engage with and contribute to wider debate whether it’s via the internet or by jetting to sunny Cannes – maybe I’ll see you there.

Jason Moore is a consultant for Cobalt Recruitment

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