At the start of January, thoughts inevitably turn to our tedious, unsatisfying jobs and we resolve that this will be the year when we finally grasp the nettle and turn a decisive corner in our professional lives.
Then we remember we said exactly the same thing this time last year and, by Valentine’s Day, we were back in the same familiar routine of apathy, disappointment, and bleak, dignity-destroying compromise.
But there’s nothing like a leap year to inject a sense of blind optimism into proceedings, to convince us that this time we’re genuinely on the verge of a major career change.
That extra day in February can only mean one thing – you're only a job application away from a new and exciting life, when you will sweep all before you, commanding the unstinting admiration and respect of friends, family, and colleagues.
Bold, fresh challenges await, along with a double digit pay rise, a flash new company car and an office with a lock on the door so you can while away those long hours watching afternoon telly on your smartphone.
And if that flies in the face of all logic and past experience, so what? Now is the time to start rummaging through the attic, to dig out that floppy disc on which the latest version of your CV is stored.
After finally tracking down the only other person in the country with a 1993 Amstrad CPC 6128 personal computer, to recover the data from the disc, you’re suddenly reminded of all those career disappointments from the past.
Back in the day, the rejection letters and failed job interviews seemed like you the the butt of a bad joke. Why did none of those companies want you, when you’d spent such time inventing such impressive, well-rounded and articulate versions of yourself?
How could they have turned you down when you delivered interview performances of such brio and erudition that they verged on the cinematic?
As you re-read through all the job applications you don’t even remember making, it becomes clear that how you imagined yourself then, now seems rather, er, Panglossian.
Did you really include ‘smoking and drinking’ as a hobby? Surely you couldn’t have listed ‘lighting farts’ as a key skill. Perhaps beginning a covering letter with a breakout quote from Obi Wan Kenobi was a bad idea.
Memories return of the interviews that, with the benefit of hindsight, didn’t go as well as you’d expected. Like the time you lied in your CV that you were a fluent German speaker, only to find the MD of the company was from Dusseldorf and wanted to conduct your interview in his native tongue.
Sheepishly, you’d had to admit that the only German you knew was ‘das sexspielzeug liegt unter dem bett, hat aber keine batterien‘ (the sex toy is under the bed, but it has no batteries).
Then there was the time you pulled out a pen from your jacket pocket to fill in a questionnaire and a half-ounce lump of Red Lebanese dropped onto the HR Director’s desk.
You distinctly recall your JobCentre advisor warning you that turning up to an interview half-cut and dressed in a yellow safari suit, with no socks, was almost guaranteed to end your chances of landing the job.
It’s 12.30pm, so you head off to the staff toilet to watch Bargain Hunt and you decide to forget about applying for a new job until next January.