So, you’re looking for a job and want to find out the best tools to use for conducting the most successful career search. More than likely, the first think you’ll do is hit the Internet and search “tools for a job seeker.” When I conducted this search on Google, I found lists of “top 5 tools,” “top 10 tools” and oddly enough “70+ tools” that supposedly everyone needs in their job search. Now, I understand people need resume help and should update their profile on LinkedIn, however, the one element that seems to be missing from all of these lists, and the one you have to have…is a plan. This is the most important element of you job search.

Think about it, you can have 5, 10 or 70+ tools, but you don’t really know what you want to do or you only ”kind of” know what you want to do, and have no real plan to get there. Keep this in mind: Your value in the marketplace is based on your ability to do “something.” Everyone has his or her “something,” but the more unique or specialized it is, the greater the value.

This is where your career plan should start. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What am I good at?
  • What am I good at that I like doing?
  • What am I good at that I like doing, and I do it better than others?

It is impossible to conduct an effective job search without this knowledge. If you say, “I’m a jack of all trades,” that usually makes you a good resource within your company, but is not usually what will get you the job.

Once you have identified your “something,” build a tangible plan. Not in your head…write it down. Give yourself timelines, targets, and goals. If you are unemployed, this should be your full-time job. If you are employed, specify how much time you are going to spend per week.

Do yourself a favor. Don’t “wing it”…make a plan!

Chris Ohlendorf is the Chief Talent Officer at Versique Executive Search and Consulting, and McKinley Consulting. He has over 17 years of experience in the consulting and recruiting industries.