How to Negotiate Your Pay

Negotiate Your Pay With Confidence!

It’s been said over and over – the year 2020 has been a wild ride! We’ve experienced a pandemic that has forced us to reconsider many things, including our jobs and careers. Whether you’ve been forced to reassess your job or career due to an unplanned job loss and unemployment, or if you’re currently employed but reevaluating your goals and ideals, one of the most important items to consider is your compensation and benefits package. No matter what your reason is for changing your compensation and benefits package, be prepared to negotiate. If the idea of the negotiation table scares you, follow the tips below and you’ll walk in confident and strong.

Do your research

Search online for any pay details specific to the company as well as overall pay summaries for the position/job title. A good place to start is the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Know how the company is doing as a whole. Did the pandemic, or any other industry trends, recently affect the organization? Has the organization experienced recent changes to their business model or staff? You can find details like these and more on the company’s website, social media pages and by asking anyone in your network who is well-acquainted with the company.

Know who you are

Think about what makes you the best fit for the job. What experience can you bring to the job that others don’t, or can’t, bring? Think outside the box on this one and write it down. List the ways you bring value to the team and also the reasons why you’re worth the cost. We may be living in uncertain times but you can absolutely be certain of your value and be confident when you negotiate your pay.

Determine what you want

It can be anything – pay & salary, health care benefits, a flexible schedule, the ability to work remotely. Negotiations aren’t just about money anymore. Go for it all but pick the one thing you want most.  Also, have reasons for your requests. Be ready to explain why your request is justified.

Be flexible

If achieving your number one goal just isn’t possible for the company, but you really want the job, don’t give up. Go for the next item or two on the list of what you want. For example, if there’s no room for higher pay or the salary you desire, then negotiate for more working hours, a signing bonus, or more paid time off.

Find mutual benefits

Persuading someone into anything is a lot easier if the other person benefits. Frame your conversation and negotiations as mutually beneficial. How does the company benefit by hiring you and not someone else? If you completed steps one and two above, determining this should be fairly simple. If you sell them on why they need you, rather than why you need them, you’re likely to be more successful in negotiations.


For more information, check out this article by the Harvard Business Review titled 15 Rules for Negotiating a Job Offer. To get started, complete this Salary Negotiation Worksheet. Once you spend some time evaluating your worth, and understanding just what you want or need, the negotiation room won’t be so scary.


Want more career tips from PMG? Check out our post Phone Interview Tips.


About the Author

Picture of Kim Mooney

Kim Mooney, Technical Coach & Manager

FAQ – Professional Reference

FAQs for PMG

PMG provides labor solutions to American manufacturers. That’s what we do in a nutshell and we take the “solution” part of that equation seriously. As a result, all of us here end up asking a lot of questions to make sure we find the right way to solve the real problem. But, during that process, we end up getting asked a fair amount of questions ourselves. This blog will try its best to provide the answers to the things PMG employees get asked the most.

What is a professional reference?

Great question! Most of us, when asked for references, want to provide names of the people that know us best and like us most. This makes sense because we want prospective employers to hear good things about us. However, your family, friends, co-workers, and fellow book club members are personal references. They may have positive things to say, but most of it won’t be relevant to a person looking to hire you for a job.

A truly professional reference isn’t just somebody you know or have worked with, but somebody you’ve worked FOR. Supervisors, trainers, shift leads, managers, and owners of companies all make excellent professional references. This is because they can’t just talk shop about your technical abilities, but can speak to the soft skills that make you a great employee. If you’re not sure why soft skills matter to the technical trades, check out our free webinar on just that topic.

Pro tip: A lack of technical skill input is why HR contacts aren’t great references.

Build your bench intentionally in order to be able to provide better references. Know who makes a great reference and then make sure you have good contact information for that person. Finally, when you provide that information, make sure you give your reference a heads-up too. Even the greatest reference won’t do any good if they don’t answer the phone or return an email.

If you’re looking for more insider information on the hiring and interview process, check out some of our other blogs that include tips & tricks for phone interviews and resume writing. If you have your own question for PMG, we have an answer and we’d love to share it. Send them to


About the Author

Head shot of Josh Erickson

Josh Erickson, ReTool & Technical Solutions Associate

Lessons From Leadership

Lessons from PMG Leadership

What do employees want from leadership? A quick Google search or a leisurely scroll through your LinkedIn feed can yield a bountiful harvest of lists (like this one from Forbes). However, if you read enough of them, you’ll find that what employees really want from their leaders is to learn.

As a leader, sharing accumulated lessons and experiences isn’t just good for employee engagement, it’s critical in developing the next generation of leaders.

In light of this, we asked several leaders at PMG to share a few of the leadership lessons they’ve learned on the way to, and through, their current role. We found four themes in their shared experience.

Lessons in Leadership

Never stop learning sign

The Learning Never Stops

People spend a lot of time working towards where they want to end up, but most don’t realize the work doesn’t stop once they get there.

Look up to, and learn from, the leaders around you. It’s NEVER too late to learn. ALWAYS keep learning. Hard, AND smart, work pays off.

Natalie K. – Director of Client Solutions


Change Never Stops

It’s easy to take an, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it” approach to business. But if your industry never stops changing, neither should you or your business.

Be open minded and understand that change is a constant, for the better.

Kathy M. – Sales Administrator


Don’t Forget What You’re Working For

The day to day grind is an easy place to lose your perspective at work, but try hard not to.

Work hard and celebrate the wins, no matter how small.

Joan F. – Controller


Misconceptions in Leadership

blocks showing the word true with a check mark

Leaders Are Not Always Right

Everyone has a boss, and we all look to them for answers when we don’t have them, but they aren’t infallible.

The most common misconception is that we know everything there is to know about our role. I’m a manager, that doesn’t mean I’m going to know every answer right away, but it does mean I’ll know the right places to look or the right people to ask to get you a well-educated and researched answer.

Elizabeth B. – HR Manager


Saying No Isn’t Easy

Our leaders are generally the final say so on most decisions and they don’t normally like to say, ‘No’ without a good reason.

I think people think that leadership is hard because you have to deal with different individuals and you don’t want to ‘ruffle any feathers.’  Saying no is always tough, but setting expectations helps so people are prepared.

Laura Y. – Sr. Manager/Strategic Project Development


Your Leaders DO Care About You

It’s easy to feel that you’re just another cog in an unfeeling machine, but good leaders do care about you.

The most common misconception I feel others have about leadership is that they don’t care. When actually, leaders truly meant to be leaders, do care about your growth within a company and are there to help you as needed.

Sonya T. – Accounting Manager


hands giving high fives

You’re In-Charge

Being the boss may not mean your work is without headaches, but it does mean you have autonomy to try and address those complications for yourself and your team.

The best part about being in a leadership position is having the ability to drive outcomes, and getting the opportunity to work with people to leverage their strengths and support them in their professional development, which typically has a positive impact on them as well as on the team.

Amy G. – President


You Get to Grow

Good leadership helps good companies, and their employees, grow.

The best part of working in management or leadership is the ability to coach, mentor, and train employees in a way that ultimately builds and propels their own knowledge, skills, experience, and success.

Kim M. – Technical Manager & Coach


You Get to Celebrate Others

It’s easy being happy for the achievements of your teammates and coworkers because training, managing, and leading them means you’ve succeeded too.

The best part of leading is watching your team members succeed!

Kathy M. – Sales Administrator 


Challenges in Leadership

Balancing Personal vs. Professional

Work anywhere long enough and you’re going to develop relationships with people that go beyond your job descriptions. Balancing how you feel about the person against how you feel about their performance can be difficult, even for leaders.

I’ve found the hardest part of management for me is carefully walking the line between friend/coworker and manager/leader.

Kim M. – Technical Manager and Coach


Everybody Is Different

Even in small companies, personalities, communication styles, and work preferences can vary greatly between employees. Finding a harmonious balance that benefits culture and production is one of the most important tasks on any leaders’ to-do list.

The hardest part of leadership, for me, is learning everyone’s work style and what best motivates each individual and then consistently applying that.

Joan F. – Controller


There’s Never Enough…Anything

Whether we’re talking about time, resources, or energy, if you’re a leader, you’re probably stretched thinner than your employees imagine.

In my role, in a HR department of 1, the biggest struggle is finding/making the time to focus on the big picture, while still getting the day-to-day tasks taken care of.

Elizabeth B. – HR Manager


If you’ve struggled to hit your stride as a leader, try focusing on some of these lessons from our leadership team. If you’re still looking for a company that exhibits great leadership, we think you should consider PMG.


“I think anyone should consider a career with PMG because we aim to be a place that offers excellent opportunities to top performers and welcomes the input of all team members to ensure we have the best practices in place to be as successful as possible. If that sounds like it would be an environment you’d thrive in, then we’d love to connect with you.” – Amy G.


Check out our website to learn more about open positions


PMG’s Leadership Team

head shots of PMG leadership

2020 New Year’s Resolutions

New Year, New You.

You’ve heard it, read it, or said it yourself. You’ve set your own New Year’s resolutions or heard resolutions from friends, family, and colleagues. Were the resolutions full of “eat better”, “join a gym”, “spend less, save more”? I wouldn’t be surprised since those are three of the five Most Popular New Year’s Resolutions made across the US. There’s a common factor, too: improving yourself through health or wealth.

When making resolutions, it seems we aren’t thinking about the 2,080+ hours/year we spend working (that’s 23% of one year, by the way!) and the opportunity to make those hours better.  Let’s take a look at ways to make professional growth part of your 2020 New Year’s Resolutions list.


  • What do you enjoy most about your job and how can you spend more time doing that?
  • What’s holding you back and how can you overcome it?
  • What’s a negative aspect of your job and how can you change that?
  • Where do you want to be and what do you want to be doing in July 2020 – six short months after the new year?
  • Where do you want to be and what do you want to be doing in December 2020, one year from now?



Here’s some examples of goals and resolutions. If these don’t do it for you, use them for inspiration.

Learn a new skill or gain a professional certification

Think about what you want to learn that ties in closely with current tasks. Once you’ve decided what it is that you want to learn, it’s likely as simple as letting your manager know.

Read books and articles

Make them relevant to your position, industry, or daily tasks. It’s as easy as completing a quick Google search online.

Update your resume

We forget to do this until we absolutely have to do it. Do it now (and throughout the year) while you can still remember and recall all the amazing things you do!

Build a professional network

This can be done in-person or online. Try the 30-day LinkedIn challenge presented by PMG’s own Market & Innovation Development Associate, Josh Erickson. You can find it here: LinkedIn 30-Day Challenge

If you’re not on LinkedIn, make that your first resolution and feel the high of successfully meeting one resolution already!

Find a work mentor

Work mentors aren’t just there to tell you how to change and improve. Mentors do so much more! Here’s some ideas for finding a mentor from national bestselling author, Jeff Goins.

Clean up and clean out

I’m talking about your filing cabinet, toolbox, email inbox, even your car! Clearing out these spaces improves productivity and performance. This article applies to an office setting but you can easily apply it to the shop floor, the employee lunch room, or any other aspect closely related to your job and career.


Don’t let your New Year’s Resolutions Become Dissolutions. Make sure you follow the best practices for success, including:

  1. Being reasonable and realistic about your goals. Choosing the right goals.
  2. Setting goals that can be measured
  3. Setting goals that can be achieved through increments – “mini-goals”
  4. Sharing your goals with those who can support you


Don’t forget to celebrate your wins!


Cheers to the New Year and Cheers to You!


About the Author

Picture of Kim Mooney

Kim Mooney, Technical Manager & Coach

Communicating at Work

Five Tips to Improve Your Communication at Work

No matter where you work, communication plays a critical role in getting the job done. In today’s world, we have several ways to communicate – in-person, email, instant messenger, video, phone – the list could go on and on. We also communicate with others who have different communication styles and interpret our message differently.

If communication is so important to our day-to-day, how can we improve the way we have conversations with various communication styles while using different types of communication platforms? Here is a list of tips on how to improve your communication at work.

Prepare what you want to communicate

When there isn’t a clear direction for the conversation to go, it can be difficult to make sure our main message is heard. Here are some points on how to prepare for future conversations.

  • Know what you want to achieve from the conversation. Ask yourself – what’s the point of this message? If you know what your endgame is, it is easier to communicate to others.
  • Identify what key points you want the other to walk away with. Think of this like a list. Often, this list will include who, what, where, when, why and how. Determine these points and align them with your endgame.

Understand your audience

We all interpret messages differently and have a preference on how we like receiving information. Here are some points to think about when trying to understand your audience.

  • Identify how the other person receives information. Do they like a lot of detail and knowing the whole story behind the topic? Do they prefer a more direct approach – short, sweet and to the point? If you haven’t heard of the communication quadrant, check it out! This quadrant helps identify how individuals receive information based on some of their observable traits.
  • Determine what information is most relevant to your audience. Based on how the other person receives information, you’ll be able to identify what information from the list of who, what, where, when, why and how is most important to share.

Communicate clearly and effectively

Now that we know what we want to say and we understand the best way to share it with our audience, we need to communicate it clearly. Here are some points to make sure your message is clear.

  • Say what you need to say and be done. Sometimes, we find ourselves rambling for the sake of being heard or for the sake of showing just how much we know. This is ineffective and the key points you want your audience to walk away with will get lost. Keep your message on point and limit any unnecessary rambling.
  • Communicate one message at a time. If you have multiple messages to communicate to the same person, how do you make sure all those messages are received? In a face-to-face meeting with someone, let them know upfront that you have three topics you want to cover and cover each one separately. In an email, separate topics with bold headings or send separate emails. Each message has its own endgame; make sure to communicate each message one at a time.

Pick up on non-verbal cues

While we’re not always aware of it, we communicate with others using body language and actions. Here are some points on how to pick up on some common non-verbal cues you might experience at work.

  • Be aware of body language. Have you ever been in a meeting with someone and they’re leaning back in their chair, arms crossed, and they’re looking quizzically at you? Perhaps you’re in a room of people and see some sitting up straight, making eye contact with the speaker, while others have their head propped up on one arm and slouching over the table. We can infer a lot from people’s body language and make assumptions of how to best communicate based on how engaged their body language appears.
  • Look for the watch check. What does it mean when someone is checking their watch while having a conversation with you? Often, this means they have another meeting to get to and don’t want to be late. It could also mean they’re busy and don’t have time for a long story. Whatever it means, if someone is checking their watch, they’re time conscious for a reason and you need to make your point quickly. Watch for the signals and be courteous of other people’s time.

Listen actively

Half of communicating with someone is about listening and being engaged. Here are some points to show you’re actively listening and engaged.

  • Nod occasionally. Giving the occasional head nod lets the speaker know you’re still with them, listening and absorbing the information they’re sharing. However, be careful with excessive nodding. If you’re constantly nodding, like a bobble-head, this will appear disingenuous and give the opposite effect.
  • Acknowledge points of agreement and disagreement. You’re not always going to agree with the information shared, but when you do, point it out to the speaker by saying, “Bob makes a good point about project X needing more support.” When you don’t agree, you can say something along the lines of, “I see where you’re coming from Bob, but I don’t exactly agree. Can we talk about this a little more?” Acknowledging points the speaker makes shows you are engaged and actively partaking in the conversation.


Want more tips from PMG? Check out our article on Phone Interview Tips!

Work-life Balance

With an increase in technology accessibility, our work days have extended so much longer than ever before. Checking email before bed and first thing in the morning is routine for most professionals. Work-life balance has become a career perk, not something you’re always guaranteed. I’ve put together five ways to create some work-life balance, even if you’re working around the clock.

Hold Yourself Accountable

You know your schedule and workload better than anyone else. Hold yourself accountable to what needs to be done. Your calendar is your best friend. Log every meeting, deadline, and block off productivity time. The more you get done during work hours, the less you’ll need to worry about during the evenings and weekends. It’s also so much easier to actually enjoy your time off when you don’t have unfinished projects hanging over your head.

Find Activities Outside of Work

Find a hobby or get involved in other activities. Having non-work-related events on your calendar will give you something to look forward to and a break from the grind. If you’re spending money on these activities, you are also less likely to skip them. It’s also a great way to meet people…that aren’t coworkers!

Don’t Procrastinate

Just do it already! The more you push it off, the more it will weigh on your mind and cause you added stress. The people that have the most work-life balance are the ones that get down to business because they don’t want to cut into their personal time to pick up the slack. If you struggle with procrastination, ask a coworker to help keep you on task. If you are easily distracted, take initiative and remove the distractions.

Establish a Routine

Get in a habit at work. The more routine you are, the less likely you are to miss deadlines. A routine is good for at work, but also at home. Wake up earlier than you have to so you can enjoy the time in the morning. Try incorporating a walk over lunch to help refresh you. By building a routine and sticking to it, your mind and body know what to expect throughout the day. It will also create a sense of balance.

Be Realistic with Expectations

Don’t overload yourself. It’s okay to say no. You don’t need to raise your hand at every meeting or to constantly pick up the slack of your coworkers. Be realistic with what you can handle. Wait until you complete a few projects before taking on more. A manager is going to be more impressed with the quality of your work, not the quantity.



I hope these 5 tips help you create some balance in your life.

Want to read more about career development, check out this blog on How to Avoid the Job Search Burnout.


About the Author


MacKenzie Porwoll, Corporate Recruiter

Phone Interview Tips

What to Do and NOT Do on Your Next Phone Interview:


Most of us have read enough tweets or seen enough YouTube clips to be well aware by now that we’re living in the middle of the golden age of technology. However, in the era of the telephone interview, it’s harder to know how to best show yourself, before a potential employer ever actually gets to see YOU or your work. Here are some tips and tricks from the desks of the PMG Tech Solutions Team (TST) on what to do and NOT do on your next phone interview.

Pre – Call:

Do Your Research

It’s no secret that recruiters are doing their homework on you, your education, and your work history. Don’t be afraid to do the same. Find out everything you can about that company and interviewer to make sure you don’t leave important questions unasked.

“Do research on PMG and/or the company prior to interview (industry, location, history)- knowledge is power!” – Marisa B. TST

Don’t Dress for Comfort

It’s a phone interview, why worry about what you’re wearing? Well, to steal a phrase from coaches everywhere, you play like you practice. If you want the job, dress like you’ve already got it. Put yourself in the right mental space.

Do Find a Good Location

Life happens. We all know that. But it’s best if you can keep it from happening in the background during a phone interview. Impressions are everything and distractions can ruin an otherwise great interview.

“Do make sure you’re in a quiet and appropriate setting – maybe don’t interview in the casino bathroom!” – Isabel B. TST

Don’t Frown on the Phone

Plain and simple, tone shows on the phone. If you want to sound pleasant, confident, and energized about the job, you need to smile throughout your call. The interviewer may not see it, but they can definitely hear it.

“Don’t be down – be upbeat, positive, and confident (but not too confident where we think you’re full of it)!” – Marisa B. TST

Do Prepare and Practice

Proper preparation prevents poor performance. This is true in life and on the shop floor, therefore, it’s true on the telephone. Think about potential questions and be ready with answers. This will go a long way to easing any anxiety too.

“Do know the progression of your employment history and be able to speak to that without huge hesitations.” – Ted C. TST


On – Call:

Do Keep it Conversational

Recruiters aren’t just looking for great candidates; they’re looking for great co-workers, employees, and teammates. Keep it professional, but friendly, and don’t be afraid to let out an occasional chuckle or two.

“Do provide detailed responses without going off on long, unrelated tangents.” – Ted C. TST

Don’t Mumble

Phone connections are not created equal and there’s only so many times an interviewer can ask you to repeat yourself. Pace yourself, project your voice, and ANNUNCIATE. Keep a glass of water handy too.

“Don’t forget to speak clearly and have a good connection. We need to hear you to be impressed by your answer.” – Benjamin P. TST

Do Ask Questions

This is an interview, not an interrogation. You want to make sure this is a company you want to work for as much as they are vetting if you should work for them. Ask those questions you prepared pre-call.

“Do have questions. Coming into an interview prepared with questions reflects professionalism and that you are taking this job seriously.” – Brent R. TST

Don’t Talk Dollars and Cents

Avoid awkwardness by remembering the first interview is about adding to your knowledge base and impressing your interviewer. Salary, benefit, and schedule questions can wait. Use this call to make sure you get a follow-up call.

“Don’t begin negotiating terms or pay before we even start the interview.” – Isabel B. TST

Do Talk Next Steps

Before your call ends make sure you ask about next steps to reemphasize your interest in the position and establish expectations. You won’t be left wondering about appropriate protocol for follow ups if you’ve already asked.


Post – Call

Do Send a Thank You

Whether via email or real mail, sending a follow up Thank You note never hurts and often goes a long way to setting yourself apart from other candidates.

“Do send a follow up email. It shows professionalism and always impresses me.”

– Benjamin P. TST

Don’t Turn into a Stalker

Establishing next steps during the call can help alleviate the temptation to do this, but nothing turns a potential employer off more than over-indulging in follow ups. Take a relationship type view – if it’s meant to be, it will be. If not, you’re probably lucky.

“Don’t forget to be respectful of your recruiter’s process. Multiple follow ups in a day or week only add to their call volume and will actually make the wait for a call back even longer.” – Brent R. TST

Do Debrief

Every interview is an opportunity, both to get the job and to learn lessons that will help you get the next one. Write down what went well and what didn’t and apply those notes to your next call.

Don’t Stop Interviewing

No matter how well you think the call went, a job is never yours until it’s been offered to you. Keep scheduling interviews until you’ve got the job.

These are not the only do’s and don’ts for acing your next phone interview but, if you’re currently struggling in the job hunt, try mixing in some of these tips and tricks to see if they mix up your results too.

On the other hand, if you’re a technician who is already acing calls and you’re looking for a new opportunity, apply with PMG to see if our recruiters would agree.


About the Author

Josh Erickson, ReTool & Technical Solutions Associate

Working From Home

Working from home – What could go wrong?

No commute, no uncomfortable work clothes, no annoying cube mate – the idea of working from home sounds great. But how is it really? Working from home is no longer a “nice to have”, but is becoming a mandatory requirement from job seekers. How are you setting yourself up for success? Here are some key points to think about before you make the change to work from home.


Working from home may lead you to think that all distractions will be eliminated. Wrong! There are possibly even more distractions tempting you at home. That load of laundry you meant to switch last night; the dishes piled up in the sink; the dog that won’t stop dropping the tennis ball in your lap. The list goes on and on. Home distractions are arguably more tempting to participate in because those are things you know you’re going to do anyway.

How to Avoid Distractions When Working from Home

If you’re going to work from home, your self-discipline needs to be on point. Here are some tips on how to avoid distractions at home:

  • Get in the routine of doing all household chores the night before. Take away any temptation that might be testing you the next day.
  • Build in a lunch-time routine. Take an hour away from the computer and make it as productive as possible. If you’re going to take that lunch break to get caught up around the house, set a timer. That hour is going to fly by a lot quicker than you think.


Working from home can be lonely. It’s just a fact. You’re going from a social environment to the confines of your own home. When you work in an office, you build relationships, whether it’s intentional or not. You learn about what colleagues did on the weekend, or what sports team they’re cheering for that night. Once you start working from home, that all goes away.

How to Avoid Loneliness When Working from Home

Here are some tips on how to avoid loneliness when you work from home:

  • Involve yourself in extra-curricular activities. Join the gym, book club, go to the dog park, take up a pottery class.
  • Do something that gets you out of the house every single day. It can be easy (especially during the Minnesota winters) to hold up in your house and hibernate. But understand that, if you’re working from home five days per week, you need to take an active role in building in some social time.

Work/Life Balance

It’s a common perception that, when you work from home, you’ll have the ultimate work/life balance. This isn’t always the case. Working from home can create an “on-call” feeling. It’s harder to walk away from your work and create that separation. This can be particularly trying especially when work is busy. You might think you’ll feel better by putting in the extra hours, but you are actually at risk of burnout.

For more blogs related to burnout, check out How to Avoid the Job Search Burnout .

How to Improve Work/Life Balance When Working from Home

  • Have set work hours and follow them.
  • Know when to walk away at the end of the day. You will attack the next day fresh and with energy.
  • Have your home office in a separate room of your house. When you are in that room, you are at work. When you are outside that room, you are at home. Having the space physically defined will help you mentally define your work and home time.


When working from home, it’s easy to miss out on key pieces of communication. You might miss out on the natural collaboration that happens in the lunch room, or the unplanned meeting by your peers. The responsibility falls to you to stay up-to-date.

How to Improve Communication When Working from Home

  • Follow up daily with your peers and managers to make sure you’re up-to-date and on the same page.
  • Ask to use a video conferencing service to help keep that physical presence in the office.
  • Send recaps at the end of the day or week.
  • Keep a standing 1:1 meeting with your manager.

Sometimes over communicating is best, especially while you’re still figuring out how to work from home. Your peers will appreciate your initiative to stay in touch and it will limit any area of miscommunication down the road.


If you’re currently considering a job that allows you to work from home, make sure to think through these key points. Navigating through these points will allow you to enjoy the many perks that a remote role provides.


About the Author

MacKenzie PorwollCorporate Recruiter 

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 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