Commercial awareness, employer and industry research - there's more to it than Google

Posted in: Careers Resources, Commercial Awareness, Tips & Hints

Whether you are looking for potential employers, weighing up career options or swotting up on your commercial awareness – in the Careers Service you will often see us saying that doing your research is really important.

For careers-related things, like CV or interview help, the MyFuture Resources tab is the place to go. But for employer and industry information it can be difficult to know where to start.

Employer web pages and Google can give you some information. However, did you know there are some fantastic resources available from the library, which can give you:

  • Lists of employers in a particular UK region and sector
  • Glossaries of jargon for a specific industry
  • SWOT analysis of a particular company

Sound good? Let us take a closer look.

Accessing resources

You can find all of the resources listed in this blog post in the Library’s A-Z database list

Access the A-Z list 

If you have any problems accessing the resources, or need further help then contact the Library


Good for: Finding lists of potential employers for speculative applications

FAME has 20 years of financial information on public and private companies in the UK and Ireland. You can search for a specific company and look at financial details.

The information available is not as in depth as other databases on the list. However, you can also create searches – for example combining Location and Activities and Industry - to give you a comprehensive list of companies that fit your criteria. This is great if you are looking to work in a specific area, or are interested in working at a smaller company (SME). Rather than ad hoc googling, using FAME means you can work through a systematic list of employers to check for vacancies or apply speculatively.

IBIS World

Good for: Insight into specific sectors for interview preparation

IBIS World has current reports on UK, US, Global and Chinese industries. You can find in depth information on different industries, which can give you a better understanding of how a sector operates. For example, details of the supply chain and major players. This is great for commercial awareness.

The reports also include Industry Jargon, which explains industry-specific terms. So, you can make sure you know your potash from your fluorspar - if you are interested in chemical and fertiliser mineral mining that is! This is great to help you prepare for selection processes so that any industry specific lingo does not throw you.

If you click on iExpert you get even more industry information. With key market snapshots, and industry issues. Particularly useful are the call preparation questions, which give questions and answers surrounding key issues in the sector.  You could use these to prepare questions you might want to ask an employer at interview as well as making you aware of the big issues affecting a particular industry.

IBIS World also has a Brexit Impact report for different industries. Which gives you an insight into how Brexit might affect your chosen industry.

D&B Hoovers

Good for: In-depth, detailed information about specific companies

Hoovers has information on 104 million companies. Each company profile gives you a huge range of different information – particularly if you are interested in bigger multinational corporations. You can research things like the history of the company, corporate family trees and financial information.

Again, this is great for interview preparation and commercial awareness. For enormous multinational corporations (e.g. Mondelez) the family tree gives a useful snapshot of the related brands.


Good for: In depth industry and trend reports, country profiles

Marketline has worldwide industry and country reports as well as giving company profiles. These include PESTLE and SWOT analyses, which can give you an overview of the key issues within a particular industry or company.

If you are researching a particular industry, Marketline has the most in-depth information. There are thousands of detailed industry reports to download. For example, you can learn about how a particular industry works in different markets. There are also theme reports that pick out important trends and developments. For example, there is a theme report on Millenial consumers.

This database also has city and country statistics. These can give you an idea of an industry’s key hubs around the world as well as economic information. This can be useful if you are considering working internationally and want to understand what industries may enable you to work in particular locations. Alternatively, what jobs might be available to you in a particular city.


Good for: Systematically searching for news stories and press releases for commercial awareness

Nexis covers international news - including business, company and industry news. You could search for news articles relating to a company you are interested in working for, including their press releases. This means you can check that you have not overlooked an important story or new product launch ahead of an interview.

Alternatively, you search for news relating to a particular industry to ensure you are up to date with the latest developments and improve your technical knowledge of that industry.

More help

I hope you find these databases useful for your ongoing career research. If you have difficulty accessing or using them, the Library can help. Get in touch via

For more help with your career – make sure you check out the Resources tab in MyFuture which lists 100s of resources to help you with all aspects of your career.

You can contact the Careers Team via:

Happy researching!


Posted in: Careers Resources, Commercial Awareness, Tips & Hints


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