Published: 13/05/2004, Volume II4, No. 5905 Page

Thinking of a career change?

Ask yourself what you really want to do, advises Jenny Rogers

Q I am 59 and have given 100 per cent to developing primary care counselling as my specialism, but I see this kind of role disappearing. I do not want to retire, and would like to move to a more comprehensive mental health job in primary care.What should I be going for? Will my age stand against me? Is there any hope?

A Of course there is hope. When you have been in one job or organisation for a long time, it is natural to frame the question about making a move as, 'who will have me?', when you should be asking yourself what you really want.

Ask yourself what makes the difference between a grey day and a good one.What kinds of work or events and people are you managing on the sparkling days? If you want more time for family or leisure, that needs to be factored in.Perhaps talk to trusted colleagues for their views on your strengths and weaknesses.

At 59, you will have far more skills than you really want to use. Just because you can do something, it does not mean that you should.Make a list of your skills, and tick the ones you still want to use or develop.

You already have a notion of the kind of role you might like.Shadow someone for a day to assess whether your favourable impression is borne out in reality. If it is still a good fit, start to network and register for any early vacancy alerts. If you need further training, now is the time to start.

Ageism is a reality, and self-presentation is important. If you have frank and obviously contemporary-minded young people in your circle, get them to check your clothing, hair and posture then listen to their advice and act on the best of it.

Jenny Rogers is an executive coach with Management Futures, www. managementfutures. co. uk.Please e-mail your questions in confidence to marylouise. harding@emap. com marked Dear Jenny.