Published: 03/11/2005 Volume 115 No. 5980 Page 31

Q: I work for a primary care trust in a management role below board level, and like a lot of people believe that I may not have a job next year. I have never been through restructuring before and although the PCT is making reassuring noises, I know I have to put in effort myself. But I am torn between looking actively for a new job (but where? ) and sitting tight. I do not want to put my career on hold for 12 months and I have transferable skills - but there seem to be fewer jobs about.

A: Your first reorganisation is always scary and this one is scarier than most because it is about fewer, not more, jobs.

It is good that you are getting reassuring noises. It is not a job offer, but it is a good start. You would be wise to resist the temptation to go for anything and everything. You should be actively looking, but only apply if you are sure the job is one you want.

Ask yourself if you would have applied in normal circumstances. If the answer is yes, do not hesitate. If the answer is maybe, then allow for the circumstances in which you find yourself and it could become yes. If the answer is no, do not apply. If nothing comes up, go on doing your job well and the chances are that something more concrete will transpire.

There is a lot to be said for sticking with the people you are with now. They know you and your work and the reassuring noises suggest that they approve. That combination can count for a lot so unless something you really want comes along, sit tight.

It is also important to take a longer view. Re-organisations always seem threatening, and this one may be.

However, there is life after restructuring and the NHS is a big place.

The important thing is to survive in order to take advantage of the opportunities that will come. There will be other re-organisations to survive, but in between there will be opportunity. The long-term trend for job numbers is up.

Ken Jarrold is chief executive of County Durham and Tees Valley SHA. If you have a query you want him to help you with, e-mail in confidence to alexis.nolan@emap. com

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