5 favourite career coaching questions to ask
As a professional coach, much of my coaching work lies in career coaching, especially for clients in their 20s and 30s. Here are some recurring questions they ask:
- What’s the best job for me?
- How can I know which job suits me?
- What’s a job that makes me happy and yet pays me well enough?
- Should I quit my job?
- How will I know that the next job is better than this one?
As we all know, coaches aren’t “walking encyclopedias” to give answers to every question. Neither are coaches here to give advice to our clients. However, here are some of my favorite career coaching questions that have, more often than not, led to many fruitful sessions with my clients.
(1) What do you want to be?
Whenever clients ask what kind of job will suit them and make them happy, I’ll always divert the question to this one. A career is not just a job, position, or role. A career is something broader/bigger than that. It’s your work life (to some, it’s their LIFE). It’s something that you spend a good amount of your time in. It’s something that brings meaning to you. It’s something that helps provide for you and your loved ones.
(2) What do you want to achieve?
Instead of discussing skills, knowledge, and titles of positions available out there, I often ask clients to visualize and/or articulate what they want to achieve in their careers. Do they want to help make the world a better place? Do they want to provide the best for their families? Do they want to be the best that they can be? Do they want to be happy? Do they want to master their skills? Do they want to run their own business?
(3) What do you want to see?
Diving deeper, I’ll continue with this question and get clients to be specific in what they see themselves doing daily, weekly or monthly, etc. and for short- and long-term. This will help them to think deeper about what they want or don’t want in their careers.
(4) What can you do today to bring you closer to that?
Often clients are unhappy at work and want to leave their jobs immediately. This question helps clients take “2 steps backward” to reflect the “positives” of their current roles. Obviously, before accepting their present role, considerations/decisions were made. This will help them recall what had caused them to accept their present job, and hence, not be in haste to resign and quit.
(5) What do you really want?
This question quickly brings clients to open up honestly. While many find prospects, position, future, etc important, the reality is that most people want a good salary in their jobs. Instead of discussing salary, I usually like to use the term “lifestyle” – what kind of lifestyle do you want?
Besides discussing career and passion, 2 other keywords often “pop up” – progress and purpose. During this, I sometimes offer my observations and define them as:
Purpose = “putting yourself in a position greater than yourself”
Progress = “the foundation which we leave for the next generation”
Basically, when we talk about career and purpose, we are taking on “smaller projects” in a “greater community”. On top of that, when we talk about career and progress, I will discuss the traditional way of “climbing the corporate ladder” versus today’s way of “going through the jungle gym”.
By this time, clients will already have more than enough to think about, reflect on, and perhaps even form their own conclusions.
So, here are my conversations from the heart about career coaching, and what works for me.
Josephine PL Ong