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7 Powerful Questions For Coaching Mid-Life Career Changers

Most mid-life career changers tend to think about what they have done in the past to shape their next career. They take those experiences and find a job to which they can apply learned skills. But what if there was a different approach that might actually land them their dream job?

Powerful Question #1

If you could spend the rest of your life doing the most amazing thing you’ve ever dreamed of, what would you be doing?

A broad, visioning question supports the shift from fight-flight (I have to find a new job now) to peace and possibilities (this is a safe space to explore my options). It allows the client to dream and consider “what if” scenarios.

Powerful Question #2

What jobs would allow you to do the most amazing thing?

While this question begins to narrow the focus, it still invites an examination of fresh perspectives. Brainstorming and curiosity take root. Things the client never thought possible become imaginable.

Powerful Question #3

What obstacles stand in your way?

And then it’s time to tackle the obvious. There’s usually some reason the client has not allowed him or herself to go there. Asking the obstacle question invites the client to name fears. Because the client is in a positive frame of mind from answering the first two questions, these things don’t seem as insurmountable.

Powerful Question #4

What life and professional experiences equip you for your next career?

Even though coaches typically shy away from questions related to the past, this is an example of how considering the positives from the past help one to move forward. Skills, abilities and values come to the surface.

Powerful Question #5

What new experiences or skills might help you reach your career goals?

Now, the client is in a primed mindset to see how the pieces fit together—what he or she already knows and how those things can take him or her toward the goal.

Powerful Question #6

How could you leverage your network to find the best fit?

Good follow-up questions might be: Who do you know already working in that industry? Who do you know that knows someone already working in that industry? Mid-life career changers usually have built a vast network of acquaintances and colleagues who can provide openings to side doors in the industry.

Powerful Question #7

What’s one small step you could take to explore the possibilities in this new industry?

It’s best to leave the session with the client having identified at least one action step that will begin to move him or her forward. Even if the industry is not where they end up, the momentum from taking action produces energy. Energy gets the client moving in the right direction.

Who do you know that could benefit from being asked these types of questions?

By |2017-01-10T20:51:07+00:00February 25th, 2016|Categories: Articles, Coaching Skills|Tags: , |3 Comments

About the Author:

Shelly Cantrell works as a life and leadership coach, consultant, freelance writer, influential speaker and photojournalist who mentors and teaches in those fields. She also partners with business owners to grow and build their teams. Shelly is passionate about loving God, others and herself well, while likewise inspiring the world. She encourages women to practice unselfish self-care for work and life balance. Whether she’s working or playing, Shelly delights in being and doing most anything outside with friends and family—especially at the ocean or in the mountains. To connect, e-mail Shelly.


  1. Tammy Resler March 2, 2016 at 8:26 am - Reply

    Yes! Thanks for giving us some great questions for our mid-life career changers toolbox!

    • Shelly S. Cantrell March 6, 2016 at 5:37 pm - Reply

      You’re welcome, Tammy! I pray they serve you well.

  2. Maggie Salisbury January 13, 2018 at 8:10 pm - Reply

    Thanks Shelly for posting this. it’s helping me personally as i’m processing different career options in my 51 years of age.

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