You are either over the worst already, or it is coming your way on Monday. Either 17 January or 24 January is the most depressing day of the year, according to psychologists. To add to the gloom, they cannot agree on the precise date for Blue Monday.

For those of you studying the job section (7 January is the busiest day to start looking for a job) or planning your summer holidays (11 January is the most popular day for booking flights), this will not be a surprise. January sucks.

But there is more to it than that, says psychologist Dr Cliff Arnall, who specialises in seasonal disorders at Cardiff University. He identified 24 January after creating a formula that took into account the many aspects that make people feel down, including weather, debt, monthly salary, low motivational efforts, failed new year resolutions and time lapsed since Christmas.

The problem is that in 2011 the January blues may last the whole year. Job cuts, VAT and NIC rises, extortionate energy prices, immigration restrictions, huge bonuses for the banks that are still not lending to small business not even a Royal Wedding can make up for these, surely.

Yes, despite Sainsbury's announcing the creation of 20,000 new jobs over the next three years and supermarkets coming up trumps in the Christmas high street battle for sales, 2011 is going to be difficult. The CIPD is calling it a 'jobs light/pay tight' year. It certainly didn't take long for the first grocery casualty, with the news that over 400 jobs are going at Burton's Foods.

So is there anything to look forward to this year? Well, Daniel Hibbert, a director at PwC HR Services, believes there will be a return to pay rises in the private sector, although he stresses he "wouldn't expect the results to be radically different for about five years".

And recruitment companies are noting cautious hiring trends. In a survey by CareerBuilder, 39% of companies said they planned to recruit in 2011, with one in five saying they will add full-time, permanent staff. This, in turn, opens up opportunities for career progression for the first time for a while, a situation that concerns HR directors worried about losing top talent. So expect pay rises for the most talented staff.

It's not all doom and gloom then, especially if you work in one of this year's most desirable areas technology, sales, customer services and marketing or in emerging positions such as environmentally focused jobs, global relations, social media and cyber-security.

If you have these skills, consider polishing up your CV or planning that pay discussion with your manager. For everyone else, don't feel too blue there's only 343 days until 2012.

Siân Harrington is editor of Human Resources magazine.