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According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment remains high, and a large number of people looking for work have been doing so for more than 27 weeks. At the same time, companies are citing the “skills gap” as a key reason they can’t fill long-term vacancies. Clearly, the right workers aren’t always applying for the right jobs, and that’s where professional career counselors come in.

In a piece for Black Enterprise, Janell Hazelwood makes the case for seeking professional help, and she’s got numbers to back it up. According to an International Coaching Federation (ICF) study, 86 percent of job seekers feel satisfied by their coaching relationships, and 36 percent rate themselves “very satisfied.” “So many times people think that job-seeking or career development is something they can do on their own, but the reality is it’s no diff than other areas of life where you seek professional advice or services,” said Aisha Taylor, co-founder of TAYLORmade Professional Career Consulting.

Of course, finding time and money to devote to a career coach can be tough, and on that front, Hazelwood offers for great tips for getting the process started.

1. See It as an Investment — If your car needed new brakes, you’d get ’em installed, right? Seeing a career counselor isn’t a frivolous luxury; you’re doing it for the good of your career, and once you find that dream job — or at least a job — you’ll start to earn back your money. As per an ICF study, “at least made back their initial investment in coaching in increased earnings from personal salaries or investments, or through increased savings through debt reduction.”

2. List your Experiences — Most of us have resumes, but this could be as simple as jotting down on your smartphone all of the jobs and internships you’ve held. Doing so will speed things up once you sit down with the counselor.

3. Have a Sense of What You Want to Do — Taylor tells potential clients to list their top three dream jobs.

4. Own Up to Your Strengths and Weaknesses — It’s helpful to discuss areas where you’d like to improve, so that counselors can help you become a stronger candidate for those jobs you’re seeking.

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