What's your problem?

After 28 years in business and commercial IT roles, I've moved to the public sector. My new boss is one of the most disorganised I've ever had. Meetings overrun, start late or are forgotten. Time management is dismissed as a 'load of rubbish' and we spend our time in crisis. I ended up working on some software, despite lacking the requisite skill due to a lack of training.

by Jeremy Bullmore
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

But months of late evenings led to a bout of ill health, so my manager has removed the product from my responsibilities so I can concentrate on the next crisis, which I had warned him was imminent. Going to my boss's boss is not an option as they are similar. At 52, with ageism rife in the IT industry, a new job would be difficult, so I would like to make this one work. Could you advise?

A: I have great admiration for people who, when faced with the unpredicted awfulness of a new job, grit their teeth and try to make a go of it. But in your case, I'm not too happy about your motives. From everything you say, this job is undo-able. If that's the case, there's no shame attached to coming to terms with it. Your determination to battle on is fuelled less by a stubborn refusal to be beat than by your fear of the future. At 52, you have serious doubts about your chances of securing another job in IT. But the longer you struggle unavailingly on, the slimmer those chances are going to become.

I also believe your pessimism to be exaggerated. After all, you secured your present job when you weren't that much younger than you are now.

And don't forget that the IT industry itself isn't as young as it was - and won't ever be again.

My final concern is for your confidence. Surrounded by incompetence and assigned to tasks for which you aren't qualified, your self-esteem is going to suffer. Getting another job at your age may be difficult enough; it won't get any easier if you go into interviews with your confidence tank on empty.

So continue to do everything possible, day-by-day, to make your current job work; but at the same time you must use every contact, scan every website and read every jobs page you can get your hands on. Fifty-two may seem old to you now. In 10 years' time, you'll look back and realise just how young and active you actually were. It really is much too soon for you to give in and give up.

Jeremy Bullmore has been creative director and chairman of J Walter Thompson London and a non-executive director of the Guardian Media Group; he is a non-executive director of WPP. Address your problems to Jeremy Bullmore at: editorial@mtmagazine.co.uk. Regrettably, no correspondence can be entered into.

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