Every Technician’s Toolbox

Must Haves for Every Technician’s Toolbox

Every technician has a toolbox, but what do you NEED to have in it? While there’s no “right” answer, here is a list of tools that PMG’s most successful technicians always have in their toolboxes:

Hand Tools

  • Wrenches
  • Hand Drivers
  • Pliers
  • Hammers
  • Chisels & Punches
  • Files & Deburring Tools

Power Tools

  • Drills & Drivers
  • Cutters & Saws
  • Grinders & Sanders

Measuring Tools

  • Calipers & Micrometers
  • Square
  • Scale
  • Indicators & Edge Finders


  • Flashlights
  • Calculator
  • Markers & Soapstone
  • Notebook

Hand Tools for Your Toolbox


Machinists and maintenance technicians need a good set of wrenches, ratchets, and sockets in typical SAE and metric sizes. A good adjustable wrench and a set of Allen wrenches are also must haves. Most also carry a quality torx set because of their prevalence in industrial settings. I recommend this Craftsman set.

Hand drivers

Hand drivers may be the toothbrush of tools, rarely appreciated though used every day, but that’s what makes them essential. Every technician prefers a power tool for any job, but sometimes you can’t get power tools where they need to be. A good selection of hand drivers with varied lengths and a multitude of heads (slotted, Philips, square, etc.) can often be a big job saver.


Whether used for holding work pieces or trimming and stripping wires, or turning the nut a wrench can’t reach, a technician can never have too many pliers. From slip-joint to locking and needle-nose to linesman’s, make sure this tool is well represented in your bag.


Technician or not, everybody knows about hammers, but those used in manufacturing aren’t your father’s claw hammer. It doesn’t matter if you need to set tooling and fixtures, make repairs or fine adjustments, or just knock something loose. A good collection of specialty hammers such as ball peens, brass, and dead blows will more than pull their weight in the shop.

Chisels & Punches

Sets of up to 1” for chisels and punches can go a long way for working on tooling, fixtures and finished work pieces. Having them may also be the difference between saving the machine, the tool, or your fingers from unnecessary damage in the process.

Files & Deburring tools

Files and deburring tools are integral for finish work on parts and features for both machinists and welders. Owning a great set of both is often all that separates a tedious job from an impossible one especially when dealing with fine materials or high tolerance pieces. I recommend this deburr set from NOGA.

Power Tools for Your Toolbox

Drills & Drivers

Drills and drivers replace hand tools where appropriate to save time and physical strain. Recent advancements in battery technology now allow many companies to make great entries in this field. However, regardless of brand, the choice will always be between power and physical profile. Be honest about the work you do most or be prepared to see this collection grow quickly.

Cutters and Saws

Cutters and saws help make more accurate cuts faster, more often than hand tools. You can choose from corded or cordless varieties, and both have their advantages. The convenience and portability of cordless versions normally win in most scenarios. Remember though, it’s still a battery tool. The same considerations apply to these as mentioned for drills and drivers.

Grinders and Sanders

A quality belt sander and an angle grinder, both with cutting and grinding heads, are essential for rough maintenance and fine finish work. It doesn’t matter if you’re a welder, machinist or maintenance technician, you will have to clean up weld slag or tool chatter at some point. Pro tip, if you need to use either for more than a few minutes at a time, go with the corded version. Cordless sanders and grinders lose battery fast.

Measuring Tools for Your Toolbox

Calipers and Micrometers

A quality 0-1” micrometer and a good 6” caliper will take any machinist a long way by accommodating a majority of typical sized work pieces and features. If you need a bigger range for your daily work, then your tool box is probably already in great shape without this list. Pro tip: Analog dials never have batteries die, but digitals have fewer parts that need cleaning to maintain accuracy over time.


Machinist square or combo square, both will help you start and check your work. You won’t get far without one or the other. When buying, go for sturdy over fancy.

Scale (Ruler)

A 6” scale is standard and I recommend sticking with metal for durability and accuracy. Indicators and edge finders are essential for setting your axis, finding the edge of your part and fine-tuning settings. A scale is often overlooked, but you’re simply not a machinist without it.

Miscellaneous Items 


Flashlights make it easier to do work when you can see it. Get a few and make sure at least one has a flexible head. Magnetic bases frequently come in handy too.


Don’t use your phone as a calculator – there’s a greater chance you’ll wreck it. A calculator capable of performing trig functions is a must for multi-axis machining.


Being able to read your markings on greasy, oily metal is essential in production environments and being able to remove the markings after is a plus.


This is your most important tool as a technician because it allows you to reference work you’ve done and make sure you can apply that previous knowledge to the current job at hand.

Tool Storage

When you go to the job, your tools need to come with you. PMG’s traveling technicians all need a quality toolbox that is portable, adjustable and lockable. I recommend something like this stack-able system available from Uline.

Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)

Every work site has its own requirements for PPE, but they all begin with boots. Steel or composite safety toes are the standard, but built-in internal metatarsal protection boots are becoming more common all the time. Waterproofing, slip resistance, and electrical ratings are other things to consider when buying boots. I recommend boots like these from Carhartt.

Hard hats or helmets, safety glasses, and hearing protection are often provided by the employer, but every technician has a favorite that works best for their job. When you find yours, buy two.

Position specific equipment like auto-darkening visors for welders and respirators for painters are also PPE worth considering.

While this list is not definitive, it’s a great start to building your kit. See what your toolbox is missing and consider adding some missing items.

If your collection already includes everything mentioned above, and you know how to use it, you’re probably ready for a career in the manufacturing industry. Send your resume to [email protected] and we’ll get you started!

Want to learn more about what it’s like to be a traveling technician? Check out our webinar Road Warrior – What it’s like to be a traveling technician Road Warrior.

About the Author

Josh Erickson, ReTool & Technical Solutions Associate

How to Schedule an Interview While Working

Scheduling an interview while you’re working can be a challenge. Let’s think about this for a second –

You’ve made the decision that you’re going to start exploring new opportunities. You’ve updated your resume and started submitting online applications. The interview requests start rolling in and you’re thinking, ‘Wow, this is great!

Then, you’re met with the anxiety of ‘How am I going to take all these calls- I’m still working!’ Fears of your boss finding out you’re interviewing elsewhere start to take over your mind. Suddenly, a good situation has turned into a new source of stress.

Sound familiar?

Take a breath. You’re getting interview requests – that is half the battle! Now is the time to come up with a schedule.

Tips for scheduling your interview while you’re working

  • Look at your week – where can you adjust?
  • Speak with the hiring manager – what does their schedule look like?
  • Speak with your manager – where do you have flexibility for a personal appointment?

Come up with a game plan so you can provide several options of availability to the hiring manager. The more flexibility you’re able to offer, the better.

Looking for more career tips? Check out our post on How to Avoid the Job Search Burnout

Why is schedule flexibility important?

Being more flexible gives the impression you’re invested in the interview process and you’re easy to work with. Remember, the interview process is your first interaction with the company. How you present yourself here will be taken into consideration throughout the entire process. The hiring manager will take into consideration your willingness to adjust your schedule.

Is it appropriate to schedule an interview outside of business hours?

Requesting a time to interview outside of standard business hours is not ideal. You may think it is an easy and logical solution to your scheduling problem, but it’s actually sending a distasteful message to the hiring manger. Just like you, the hiring team works standard business hours. In order to respect the hiring team’s time and yours, set your schedule boundaries to be standard business hours.

How to use PTO wisely

Taking PTO to schedule an interview is a wise option. If you’re planning to take the day off, fill it with as many phone screens as possible. At the end of the day, evaluate each call you had that day. Then, narrow down the opportunities to your top three and go from there.

Interviewing while working isn’t always the easiest task, but having a job while you’re looking is the way to go. Give yourself the financial security and the time to make sure you’re making the best move possible.

For more tips, read this post from The Balance Careers.

About the Author

Mackenzie Porwoll, Corporate Recruiter

The 30-day LinkedIn Challenge

I challenge you to a daily, deliberate use of 10 minutes that should check three boxes for those trying to improve their soft skills:

Each year, I receive many requests from instructors and career skills professionals to emphasize the importance of soft skills to their students. Often, I find myself circling back to the same message: Soft skills matter in technical trades, maybe more today than ever before.

Given the importance of soft skills in today’s professional environment, it’s no surprise they are generally thought to be lacking in the newest generations entering today’s workforce.

How can we – how can YOU, change that? It’s simple – try the 30-day LinkedIn Challenge.

The Challenge

Step 1: Every day, get to where you’re going 10 minutes early.

Step 2: Spend that time adding three new connections on LinkedIn:

  • one person you know personally
  • one person who works in the same field you’re in or you’d like to get into
  • one person from an industry not directly connected to yours

For example: If you’re a welding student, add your instructor, the Miller weld rep in your area and Warren Buffet.

This will take you between one and three minutes to add three new connections.

Step 3: Use the remainder of the 10 minutes to read your LinkedIn feed. Your goal is to try and learn at least one new thing that is relevant to your career.

What is the 30-day challenge addressing?

The premise of the 30-day challenge is threefold:

  1. Time management and punctuality are underrepresented in many individuals beginning to enter the workforce today.
  2. Many entry-level candidates are coming in lacking rudimentary knowledge of their larger industries, even when they possess the requisite technical skills.
  3. Most professionals don’t have the support networks in place to help them stick, grow, and thrive at their current workplaces.

Why does the 30-day challenge matter?

  • It gives you something to fill your time with when you arrive 10 minutes early.
  • It makes you an investor in your own personal improvement plan.
  • It helps you become more than just a tradesperson, but an actual student of your trade.
  • It allows you to possess the same professional network advantages that workers already enjoy in other industries where networking is considered to be part of daily business.
  • It reinforces a continuous improvement mindset.

How to start

If you’re looking for a way to change your professional paradigm, whether within the manufacturing sector or not, start building the new version of you by trying the 30-day LinkedIn Challenge.

Start with these three connections:

  • Me (Josh Erickson at PMG Services)
  • Mike Rowe and his MikeRoweWorks Foundation
  • Someone you know personally.

If after 30-days, you think this challenge was a waste of your time, please send me an email and share your feedback.

For more information about improving your soft skills, check out our webinar Soft Skills: What are they and how do they impact the modern workforce


About the Author

Josh Erickson, ReTool & Technical Solutions Associate

How to Avoid the Job Search Burnout

You have just applied for your 85th job this month. You hit submit and shut the computer with a heavy sigh.

You start applying to roles you don’t even want because anything is better than the position you currently have.

If I’m describing you, know you are not alone. Almost every person I’ve recruited (AND MYSELF) have felt burnt out from job hunting. You are putting yourself out there; you are presenting the best version of you; you are faced with constant rejection. Who wouldn’t be discouraged?

Whether you are just beginning to think about making a change or you have been searching for months, the tips laid out below will help you avoid the dreaded job search burnout.

Are you just beginning the search?

Set a target date

Consider any major things coming up in your current position as well as personal events such as vacations. You want to make sure you allow enough time to prepare and be available for an interview.

Make a Pro and Con list

After you write a pro and con list, only apply to roles that truly fit your needs. You don’t want to be looking again in six months. If recruiters approach you and want to discuss a new opportunity, do the research ahead of time. If the company or position doesn’t align with your list, politely pass. Make the very most of your time by having a clear understanding of your needs and wants in your next role.

Reach out to your network

Set up some coffee dates and learn from your connections. Letting people know you are starting to put some feelers out there will help keep you top of mind if they hear of an opening. Be cautious who you tell, you don’t want everyone to know you have one foot out the door. Only reach out to those who you trust and would consider a professional mentor.

Practice interviewing with a friend or family member

The more you prep now, the more comfortable you will feel later. Especially practice talking about any difficult situations you experienced in your employment. Employers want to see how you handled a tough situation and applied those lessons in later struggles.

Have you been searching for a while with no results?

Take a deep breath and pause

Take a look at your job search activity over the last few months. What was working? Where did things start to slow down? By evaluating your activity, you might see a few mistakes pop out at you. Learn from those. Repeat what you are excelling at and reach out for help in the areas you are struggling in.

Meet with a career coach

Meeting with a career coach was one of the best decisions I could have made while searching for a new job. The career coach will give you several different personality and strength tests to complete. The results of these tests will then give you recommended career paths. My top result was Recruiting! You may feel a little awkward or uncomfortable, but I promise you it is worth it. Understanding a clear path to take will instantly help you feel better.

Ask to job shadow

Job shadowing someone is a great way to determine if that position aligns with your interest. It is also a great way to build relationships with peers who are in the position that interests you. They are a great resource for questions and might be able to introduce you to the hiring manager.

Gain experience

Volunteer for the extra project; offer to help a teammate in a different department; join work committees. The more experience you have under your belt, the more valuable you will be to an employer.

Don’t take it personal

Companies need to make the best business decisions when it comes to hiring. It is impossible for one person to be the best solution to every position opening. You will find the role that is right for you. Taking your time to get there is going to ensure you are not just moving to move, but are investing in your future.


Just remember, everything happens for a reason. Good luck and happy job hunting!

MacKenzie Porwoll

Corporate Recruiter

[email protected]

What to Avoid on Your Resume

On average, the amount of time hiring managers spend looking at a resume is just a few seconds. You have very limited amount of time to capture the attention and interest of that manager. Resumes are your very first impression, make sure you aren’t making these common resume mistakes!

Make your resume reflect the position you’re applying for.

If you are applying for a marketing or branding position, your resume should reflect that. You should easily be able to see the personal brand, unique shapes and a photo. If you are applying for anything else, keep it simple. A simple black and white resume with clear bullet points listing your experience is all that you need. Anything in addition is distracting.

Check and re-check your spelling and grammar.

Resumes should be 100% error free. If you present a resume with mistakes you are showing you are not detail oriented and even worse, lazy!

Make sure your resume is appropriate in length.

Your resume should be appropriate in length to your experience. I am not a firm believer in the one-page resume rule. If you have been working for 20 years- you should have a lot of experience to show. With that being said, if you are applying for your first job and your resume is three pages, something isn’t quite right. Each position should have three to five bullet points clearly listing your responsibilities and achieved results. Edit out the fluff. An interview is a great place to expand on your experience and explain each bullet point in further detail.

Include dates with your work history.

Not putting the dates on your work history is a big no-no.  Hiring managers want to confirm there are no extended gaps in employment. By not listing your employment dates, it looks like you are trying to hide something. Be upfront and honest about each duration. The truth is going to come out anyway.

Make sure your resume is an accurate reflection of you.

If you are going to list areas of expertise, make sure you really are an expert in those areas. Very often I see Excel listed under this section, but let’s be honest, are you really an expert? What kind of formulas are you using? When was the last time you made a pivot table? I also recommend not listing social media platforms (unless you are applying for a Social Media position). If it isn’t relevant to the role, leave it out. If you list something as an area of strength, expect to be questioned on it in the interview.


At the end of the day your resume should reflect you. Don’t over complicate things or use verbiage you typically wouldn’t use. Give yourself the best chance to get that interview request and put some extra time into crafting your best resume!


About the Author

MacKenzie Porwoll, Corporate Recruiter

[email protected]

PMG Webinar

Topic: How to best prepare for a career in manufacturing

When: March 8, 2019 at 1pm, CST

Whether you’re in a technical program today, considering entrance into a technical program tomorrow or looking to improve in a position you already hold, this webinar will provide tips on how to best prepare for a career in manufacturing.
Join us on March 8 at 1pm, CST to learn how you can give yourself the best opportunity to stand out from the competition when trying to enter into or advance within your manufacturing career.
How to Attend:

Register at https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_mMfG9s6nTv6pycwafaIGBw

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

We look forward to your participation!


Are there topics you want to know more about?
Click here and send us your ideas!

How to Fall in Love…with your Job!

Let’s talk about falling in love. And no, I’m not talking about falling in love with your next online dating connection. I’m talking about falling in love with your job! Just like any relationship, the one with your job takes work, practice, and patience. There are compromises that must be met, social engagements attended and most importantly, you have to choose your job and your job has to choose you back…every day.

In a world of instant gratification, it is so easy to forget that the good things take time and effort. Falling in love with your job is no exception. I’ve put together a few tips on how to really love what you do.

What are your strengths?

Have you taken the strength finder test? Where do you shine? This is so critical to know!

In order to love your job, you need to match your strengths to your daily responsibilities. I highly recommend purchasing the Strengths Finder 2.0 book, written by Tom Rath. In my experience, I’ve learned most employers will actually buy this for you!

Inside this book is an online test you can take to determine your top strengths. For example, mine are: Individualization, Significance, Context, Restorative, and Achiever. The book also explains each strength to you and how that can be utilized in a professional setting. Connecting your strong suites to your work place will instantly create some chemistry!

What’s your love language? (Aka, what’s your communication style?)

I don’t feel heard or understood!

How many of us have been there in a relationship (slowly raises hand…)? Having strong communication with your peers is going to take your relationship to the next level.

Knowing your strengths and how to communicate them are key ingredients for a healthy relationship. I recommend having your whole team take the strengths finder test because then you will know how to best communicate with all the different personality types in the room. Adapting to each person’s style -or having the knowledge that people communicate differently from you – will help easy any tension and will keep everyone focused on the main goal.

Where is this relationship going? What is the long term goal?

Not everyone knows what they want to be when they grow up. Some people are still figuring that out later in life, and that’s okay!

If planning your 5 or 10 year goals seems impossible, let’s, let’s break it down into smaller, more obtainable goals. I recommend keeping a work journal. Write down at the end of the day what went well, what had you stumped, what failed, what you learned, what frustrated you, and what had you excited. The proof is going to be right there in front of you and over time, some common themes are going to stick out. You are going to realize that maybe you don’t like working in spreadsheets all day, or maybe you actually really like leading those team meetings. Those are important things to note because you might just be mapping out your dream job.

Having goals in place are going to make you a more active leader of your work destiny. You do have the power to change the things you don’t like, or try things you have never done, but you need to get a good grasp on what those things are. The last thing a manager wants to hear is, “I’m unhappy in my role and I don’t know what to do about it.” Track what is making you unhappy and track what really excites you. Bring a possible solution to your manager in your next one-on-one meeting. Not to be all cliche, but you really are in the driving seat here.

Loving your job and what you do is achievable. Don’t be too hard on yourself. You are going to go through some growing pains. You might even decide to “go on a break”. I admit, I have been through the ringer when it comes to finding a job I truly love. I even began to question if it was me. Of course, the answer was no; I just hadn’t found the right fit yet.

Today, I can confidently say that I’m in love with my job at PMG. Let me tell you, when you love what you do, everything else in life gets easier. Let’s face it, a majority of our lives are spent working- shouldn’t you love it?

Happy Valentines Day!




About the Author

MacKenzie Porwoll, Corporate Recruiter

[email protected]


PMG Webinar

When: January 23, 2019 1:00 PM Central Time

Topic: Manufacturing in the future: the changes yet to come

Every third Wednesday of the month, PMG will be hosting a manufacturing-related webinar.
Join us for our first webinar in 2019 as we explore what future changes are expected as manufacturing continues to evolve. In this session, we’ll explore Industry 4.0 and how it’s impacting the sector. We’ll highlight key areas of change including IoT, machine learning, virtual and augmented reality, additive manufacturing and more.

How to Attend?

Register at https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_KWpQdeOCQjGOIEI_ldb08g

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

We look forward to your participation!

How To Crush the Interview

Feeling nervous before a big interview is normal. Whether it is your first or your 50th, it can be a challenge to feel prepared and confident. As a recruiter, it is my job to conduct interviews all day long. I’ve been a part of the good, the bad, and the down-right cringe-worthy. But, interviews don’t have to be scary! I’ve put together my top six tips for crushing that interview!

1. Know the Company

• Nothing is worse than when I ask a candidate if they have any questions prior to the start of an interview and I receive, “Can you tell me about your company?” Instantly, a red flag goes up in my head. When you have reached an interview stage you should have a general idea about what the company does. It is ok to have specific questions about how the company operates or what their business model is like, but don’t just ask the blanketed question. It shows you didn’t do your research, or even worse, that you have applied to so many jobs you can’t keep them straight.

• Go into the interview knowing: what the company does, the mission statement, the company values, and the industry this company is in. Just focus on the basics.

2. Know why are you are there

• This is such a basic question that I think is over-looked. It is important to know why you are interviewing with this company, and more specifically, this job. “I want a new challenge” or “I’m looking to grow my skills” simply doesn’t cut it anymore. Come into the interview with a genuine reason as to why you are the best solution for this company and what specifically makes that the case.

• Be honest! Hiring managers and recruiters can tell when you are not being fully transparent and eventually the truth will come out. If you are miserable at your current company and are desperate to leave (we have all been there) you need to communicate that.

• And lastly, show some excitement and passion about the position! The company is dedicating a lot of time, money, and resources into the hiring process- show that you understand that and you too are investing in this process.

3. Prepare for the Interview Questions

• You know the tough questions are coming – so plan ahead. Prior to an interview, I recommend writing down five work experiences that stick out to you in your mind. What was good? What was bad? What did you learn? Employers want to know about the times you messed up (mistakes happen every day- it’s ok!). They also want to see how you handled that stressful situation and how you have adjusted your process going forward. No one expects perfection, but self-awareness and accountability are two major factors being determined by these questions.

• When addressing a negative situation, (e.g. “Tell me about someone you didn’t get along with at a past job”) don’t get too caught up in the details. The truth is, we don’t really want to hear why Karen constantly complained to you in the break room. What we really want to hear is that there are things that you don’t love in the workplace, but you don’t let that affect you. You are able to brush off the politics and not add to the drama. Keep it light. Always explain what you learned from that experience and how it has positively impacted your behavior.

4. Listen

• An interview is not just about a company determining if they want to hire you, but it is also a time for you to determine if you want to work with them. It is important to actively listen when the hiring manager is explaining the position and the culture of the company. I also recommend writing down a list of “must haves” and “nice to haves” prior to the interview. Listen for those key words. If you hear them, great! You can check that off the list. If not, it presents a good opportunity for you to ask about that later.

• Take notes! Your mind is spinning a hundred miles a second during this interview. If you try recalling small details and specific situations, odds are you are going to forget some of the valuable information that is being shared with you. Taking notes also shows the hiring team that you are really interested about what they have to say.

• It is also common to think of some questions you want to ask while in the interview. Jot them down right away so that at the end, when it is your time to ask the questions, you don’t forget what you had wanted to cover earlier.

5. Ask Good Questions

• At the end of the interview, you will be asked, “What questions do you have for us?” You NEED to have questions. You are being tested to see how much you prepared for the interview, how well you listened during the interview, and it shows what is really important to you. Don’t ask about the benefits and PTO. That shows the hiring team that you are probably less interested in the job and more interested in the perks. (Ask the recruiter these questions — that is what we are there for!)

• I always recommend some of the following questions:

i. What challenges will the position bring?
ii. What does success look like in this role?
iii. Why is the position open?
iv. How will the role contribute to the overall success of the organization?

• Again – take notes! That shows these are really important questions to you and you are not just asking them for the sake of asking.

6. Follow-Up

• The amount of times I have received a hand-written “Thank You” card are few – but it sure stands out! It shows that you are thoughtful and detail oriented.

• I also understand you are going to want feedback or an answer right away – that is not likely to happen. Give the hiring team some time to make their decision. You don’t want to change their perception of you by consistently calling and emailing asking for an update.


If you practice these six tips, I’m sure you will crush that next interview. Who knows, it just might be your dream job!


About the Author

MacKenzie Porwell, Corporate Recruiter

[email protected]


PMG Webinar – What is Manufacturing?

When: Nov 14, 2018 1:00 PM Central Time (US and Canada)

Topic: What is manufacturing and how does the sector break down?

Since the 1900s, America has seen the manufacturing sector transform into something our forefathers couldn’t even have imagined. Join us for an informative session about manufacturing and its top industries.

In this session, we’ll define what manufacturing is and highlight how it has evolved into what it looks like today. We’ll explore some of the top manufacturing industries, identify each by the type of industry it is and how each reacts to other industries in the sector. We’ll wrap up the session by outlining some of the common standards and certifications required for some of manufacturing’s top industries to meet regulations.

How to Attend?

Register at https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_-KtJYiCnRDW_W9TcHSk51Q

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

We look forward to your participation!