Growing up, my dad had every tool you could imagine. In our garage, he hung them on pegboards, stacked them up in a giant, rolling toolbox, and neatly aligned them in our outside shed. I was always amazed that he seemed to always have the right tool for the job, and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that it is nice to be this prepared, because you never know what challenges might arise, in a house or in life.

In thinking about my papa’s extensive tool collection, I started to think about what tools we use to help us overcome the challenges in life. The proverbial toolbox, if you may. The accumulation of experience, strategies, and methods that can be drawn on in life. Some are well worn, used constantly and some only come out for that special project. In job seeking and career transitions, we have all sorts of tools that we can pull out: online job boards, resumes, social media, etc.…, but which ones can be the most effective? Because we don’t want to use the sledgehammer to crack a nut, now do we?

Here are my top 4 tools that EVERY job seeker should utilize whether they are simply changing jobs or completely changing careers.

Tool #1: Your Brand

Your brand consists of your resume, cover letter, and online profile. Individually, these serve different purposes and together they can represent a strong snapshot of what you are, what you can do, and why you would be a great asset to a company. The tool, if properly maintained and cared for, can yield you outstanding results. The three biggest things to remember about this tool: keep it focused, keep it updated, and keep it out to use all the time!

Tool #2: LinkedIn

LinkedIn is one of the most powerful tools in our box and is ranked as the #1 source of quality hires and top recruiters are more engaged with LinkedIn than other recruiter tools. So what does that mean for you? Opportunity! LinkedIn allows you not only to find jobs, but to also engage with hiring managers and recruiters from your dream company, demonstrate a level of expertise by sharing articles, posts, and nuggets of information, and allows you to build a network that helps you achieve your goals! Talk about an all-in-one tool!

Tool #3: A GOOD Recruiter or Staffing Agency

I emphasize good on a recruiter and staffing agency because there, unfortunately, are recruiters and agencies that are not worth your time. But a GOOD recruiter or agency can act as your partner and advocate in your job search. A good recruiter will help you achieve your goals by connecting you with people and companies, even if they are not sourcing for that particular position. As you search for some help, be picky. Treat it like dating and find one that fits you, understands your goals, and treats you with respect. Good recruiters are like gold! Treat them like it!

Tool #4: Your Network

Employee referrals are the top source of quality hires. That means that companies are looking to their employees to refer to who they know for open positions. Strategically cultivate a network by interacting with people with your same interests, that work at companies that you are interested in, and that are within your industry/job type. Just remember though, you are BUILDING this network so, show up, be present, and engage with your network. Let them know who you are, what you can do, and why you are awesome!

Just like the real tools in your toolbox, your metaphorical tools need regular maintenance to remain useful. Stay acquainted with them, learn their different functions, and get familiar with them so you can use them most effectively!