Every Monday, hundreds of thousands of people set off for work with a heavy heart, after a weekend of rest and relaxation confirms once and for all just how much they loathe what they do for living. At the moment there are bound to be many thousands more, because while you hate your job you are well aware that there are very few alternatives out there, so surely something is better than nothing.
But it doesn't have to be like this.
I'm not denying that finding a new job in the current environment is going to be exceptionally difficult. However, there are ten steps you can take to make sure you are top of the pile when your dream employer finally decides to take a break from the hiring freeze.
1. Get the social media basics sorted
In this day and age there is no excuse for social media letting you down. You need your Linked-In and Facebook profiles to be working hard for you. Make sure they are up to date, and show you in a great light. On Linked-In make sure you have decent recommendations, your CV is uploaded and you have made it clear you are interested in career opportunities. On Facebook take a long look at everything and make a cull of anything that detracts from your professional image. Also consider whether you should be Tweeting valuable and interesting updates about your field of business.
2. Build your brand
In any industry there are ways to get yourself noticed. Social media is just the start. Are there journals or websites everyone reads, are there events everyone goes to? Get involved, contact any publications, write a letter, suggest areas they ought to cover, you'll be surprised how keen they are for people from the industry to feature. Make sure you attend the right events, ask the right questions, talk to people. The basics are essential.
3. Polish your CV
It goes without saying that before this goes to anyone it has to be perfect. Get the basics right, like the spelling and grammar, as well as the complex things like demonstrating your skills and experience adequately and succinctly. This process should involve you showing it to at least five of your friends and family and acting on their comments.
4. Get some experience
How you go about this will depend on your chosen career and how far you have got already. If you are starting out, unpaid work experience is your best bet. If you already work in the business, then volunteering for extra work in the area in your current role is well worth a go. If you can make a start on your own, then you should do, whether it's writing a blog or taking photos. Don't wait for someone else to give you a break.
5. Use your network
Everyone knows someone who knows someone, and it's often just a case of asking. Don't be shy. Tap up friends, friends of friends, family, acquaintances, former colleagues. Someone you know already knows someone who has the job you want, maybe they can help.
6. Keep your ear to the ground
If jobs do come up, you need to make sure you know about them. Subscribe to job sites and keep on top of them, check industry journals and websites, check company sites, use job search tools, and approach a recruitment company or two that specialises in the industry.
7. Target companies
If you know who you want to work for, then the process becomes far easier. It gives you a focus when you approach your network, you can keep an eye on the company website for opportunities. You can also do your research so that when your opportunity arises and you finally get to speak to someone influential, you can demonstrate your passion for the business.
8. Look for the hidden opportunities
Often jobs are won and lost before they are ever advertised. It's worth making contact with the HR department of any company you are interested in as soon as you have gathered the knowledge and experience you need. Nothing ever came of being shy and refusing to ask for things. You don't have to send a begging letter asking for a job, ask to meet with them to talk about opportunities. You could secure an interview without ever having to apply for a job.
9. Take your time
Finding a job is a time-consuming business. If you try to do it in a hurry your CV will be poor, your covering letters disappointing and the response will be non-existent. Commit to spending a decent chunk of time ensuring that everything you send to anyone will make exactly the right impression.
10. Don't give up
This is far easier said than done, but perseverance is your best friend. It's safe to assume that this will take a fair old while and come with its share of setbacks, but if you want to go back to work every Monday with a spring in your step you need to put your head down and power through this tough stage in the process, safe in the knowledge that each step you take is one in the right direction - out of the door.