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

Josh Erickson, ReTool & Technical Solutions Associate

Meet Vanessa!

Vanessa is a Business Development Representative and joined the PMG Team about two months ago.

About me

I’m originally from California.  I moved to Nashville for a softball scholarship and a chance to play at the D1 level. I absolutely fell in love with the city.  Moved up to Minneapolis for about 2.5 years to work for the Twins. After three winters, I decided to fly South again!  I have a yellow lab and love him more than most things. He’s the cutest little monster around and makes my days so happy!

What are your main responsibilities as a Business Development Representative?

I make phone calls and qualify leads for the Client Solutions Managers.

How did you learn about the opportunity with PMG?

MacKenzie reached out on LinkedIn. I remember I wasn’t really looking to leave my last company, but she sold me on the first call!

What do you like most about your job?

My team.  We get rejected a few times a day, but I love being able to laugh with them about it and share our wins.  I love a sales team that celebrates everybody’s victories!

What do you like most about working for PMG?

I love the small company feel.  I’ve worked in a lot of different types of companies and, in the past two months, I’ve definitely felt like I’m at home.

What are some hobbies you do in your free time?

I like to explore Nashville. I’ve lived here for about seven years and it’s amazing how many things I haven’t done. The city keeps growing so quickly and more gets added.  I also have a great group of friends who are in the know and keep inviting me to things.

Where is the best place you’ve traveled and why?

Northern Ireland.  Belfast is one of my favorite cities. I love the history of Ireland and the UK. I love going to the museums and learning more each visit, plus the castles and views are incredible. The people are also incredibly nice and welcoming.

What celebrity/inspirational person do you admire the most?

I admire a lot of people, but growing up, I admired Mia Hamm and Sue Bird. They were such fierce athletes that I always wanted to play like that.

What did you want to be when growing up?

A sports broadcaster…which is hilarious because I realized after doing color commentary for my college’s volleyball team that I absolutely hated being on camera!

You’re happiest when…

…I have a margarita in one hand and my dog on the patio with me.

What advice would you give to a recent new hire at PMG?

Ask all the questions!! We have a great support system and there is not one question that will shock anybody.

What animal describes the “work you”?

An elephant. I have a pretty good memory when it comes to names, accounts and past calls.

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


Meet James J., a Manufacturing Technician at PMG. James has worked for PMG for almost one year and recently completed his second PMG project. Learn more about him in the Q&A session below!

Q&A with James

How long have you been working in manufacturing?

Approximately 15 years on and off.

What drew you to the trade?

I enjoy keeping busy and working with my hands.

Have you had any formal training?

On the job training.

Before working at PMG, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?

The most interesting and memorable job that I had was working in North Pole, Alaska on an oil field.

What do you like most about working for PMG?

The recruiters and project managers are very helpful. I enjoy working long hours, keeping busy and learning new trades.

What is one thing you miss or wish you had with you while on the road?

The one thing that I miss the most is my wife.

How do you balance your career at PMG and family?

I talk to my family daily and make sure to take a small break after my project ends to spend time with my family.

What are some career lessons you’ve learned thus far?

Everything is different, pay attention and learn as much as you can.

When you’re not working, what sort of hobbies do you like to do in your free time?

I like to visit my parents in Alabama and go mud riding in my big truck.

What is something fun you’re looking forward to in 2019?

I am looking forward to buying our first home.