STARTING your job search can be daunting, particularly if you haven't been in that headspace for a while.
The employment market changes, employers' expectations change and you, as a potential employee, change.
What doesn't change, though, is the importance of controlling what you can and ensuring that the uncontrollable factors are weighted as heavily as possible in your favour.
Where should you start? As well as the employment classifieds in your local paper, it's worth spending time online too. There's a range of employment websites listing hundreds of vacancies, one of which might be just what you're looking for.
Put value, too, on the people you know. Your contacts and social network (both online and off) can be a great starting point for finding your new career.
It's an old line that gets trotted out all too often, but sometimes it really is who, rather than what, you know.
Once you've found your dream job, you must make your application count. First impressions really do matter when a company might be on the receiving end of dozens of applications for the one position.
You need to present yourself in such a way that any HR officer will be compelled to read your application in its entirety.
Start with a relevant cover letter. Research the company and use that knowledge to explain how your experience, skills and personal qualities fit with the position and the company.
In your CV, don't downplay your skills or experience. Make it comprehensive. One small detail that you might see as largely irrelevant might be just the thing to differentiate your application from the rest of the pile.
If you're invited to interview, you need to go in prepared. You'll be asked career goal questions - be honest.
For example, if you want to one day run the whole show, don't proclaim so arrogantly, but phrase your response to say you're interested in a long-term career with the company, and see yourself adding value to the operation for many years.
Don't be disheartened by knock-backs. You probably won't get the first job you apply for.
If you're unsuccessful, ask for feedback as to why, and what you should do differently on subsequent applications.
YOU'VE found the perfect job, but are struggling at the first hurdle - the application.
It doesn't need to be difficult. If you keep the following tips in mind, you'll be off to the interview before you can say curriculum vitae.
1. Have a friend or family member read your work. Fresh eyes will find mistakes you miss.
2. Be professional and formal, but not boring and dull. Inject a dose of personality, but not so much as to be informal.
3. Find out who will be reading your application and address your cover letter to them. If in doubt, use a gender-neutral salutation.
4. Check and double-check the actual mailing address (email or snail mail). There's no point wasting your efforts by sending your application to the wrong company.
5. Use a professional email address. There are plenty of free email services and more than likely an address that combines your first name and surname will be available.
6. Think twice about attaching a photo, unless one was specifically requested.
7. Include the job title or a reference number at the top of your cover letter.
8. Update your cover letter for each and every application. It shows your attention to detail, and highlights how productive you've been in your past roles.
9. If the advertisement asks for a cover letter, write one. If it doesn't ask for a cover letter, write one anyway.