Are you looking for a rewarding career that allows you to work outdoors and develop specialized skills in the electric power industry? If you’re physically fit and have good hearing and vision, manual dexterity, and problem-solving skills, you may be well suited to the role of power line technician.
While power line technician apprenticeship programs vary across the country, they generally take about four years to complete. Through a combination of in-class instruction and on-the-job training, you’ll develop the knowledge and skills to construct, maintain and repair overhead and underground electrical power transmission and distribution systems. Among other things, you’ll learn how to:
• Erect and maintain steel, wood, or concrete poles, towers, and guy lines
• Install, maintain and repair overhead and underground power lines and cables
• Work with various types of heavy equipment (boom lifts, backhoes, etc.)
• Splice, solder, and insulate conductors and related wiring
• Test and troubleshoot electrical circuits, components, and systems
• Install, maintain and remove transformers and other hardware
Alternatively, many technical colleges offer pre-apprentice power line technician programs that provide students with the fundamentals they need to begin working in the industry. These programs generally last 10 to 20 weeks.
Keep in mind that a career as a power line technician is physically demanding. You need to be comfortable with heights and willing to be on the job during unconventional hours. Fortunately, this type of work is in high demand and, with the right training, you’ll be able to find employment with utility companies, equipment suppliers, engineering firms, and more.
How to drop out of a hiring process
Are you being considered for a job that you now realize isn’t a good fit? Here are three tips to help you withdraw your candidacy without damaging your reputation.
1. Do it as soon as possible
After going through the interview process, you may realize that the position or company isn’t what you thought. You can take a few days to decide, but it’s best to let the recruiter know sooner rather than later to avoid wasting their time.
2. Confirm it in writing
You may want to announce your withdrawal over the phone if that’s been your primary means of communication with the recruiter. However, you should always follow up in writing. A simple email thanking the recruiter for their time and consideration will help keep the door open for future opportunities.
3. Provide a brief explanation
Avoid getting bogged down in the details about your decision to withdraw. If you’ve accepted a job elsewhere, you can mention it but don’t specify the company or position. If you don’t like the company culture, simply state that you don’t feel the position is a good fit for you at this time. If you’re not satisfied with the proposed salary or benefits, reaffirm your interest in the company before specifying your reason for the refusal.
By following these tips, you should be able to drop out of the hiring process without burning any bridges. This is particularly important if you want to apply for another position with the company at a later date.
Business braces for rising gas prices
It’s one of the most visible commodities and its price affects us every day: Gasoline.
And experts predict that small businesses will be hit this summer by a gas price spike that will be high enough to raise the everyday costs of doing business.
Already, gasoline prices are surging — according to Gas Buddy at the end of March, prices were up nearly 80 cents compared to the same time in 2020, and trend lines are expected to continue to spike upward. Prices could reach a national average of $3 per gallon by Memorial Day, according to the Miami Herald. The price spike is part of a long, slow rise that has been building since gas prices bottomed out in early May 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic sent demand plummeting.
Rising gasoline prices raise overhead and the cost of doing business, which cuts into profits. With that tension, something has to change. Either product will change, prices will rise or services will be cut.
Small businesses will find trucking costs rise with the dreaded invoice line: Fuel-related increase. Businesses such as brick-and-mortar furniture stores will immediately see higher trucking costs and higher costs per item.
For businesses that rely on a fleet, be it one or 100 vehicles, higher gas prices could require some changes in service areas, vehicles, or services, according to the Houston Chronicle.
The smallest of small businesses, like food trucks in Los Angeles for example, have experienced gasoline prices over $4 since 2019. In response, they cut their routes and parked in their most lucrative locations.
Raising prices in competitive markets might not be the first choice for businesses. But as overhead continues to rise, some changes are inevitable, whether in the workforce, product quality, or consumer prices, according to the Houston Chronicle.
The American Rescue Plan: What’s in it for small businesses
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 was signed by President Biden on March 11, and small business owners should be aware: You may stand to benefit from its provisions.
According to CNN, the Act authorizes another $7.25 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, the popular program that offered forgivable loans to small businesses and other organizations that may have been hurt or had to temporarily close their doors due to the pandemic. But be advised that as in previous iterations, the loans will only be forgiven if at least 60 percent of the money is used to support payroll expenses, with the remainder going to mortgage interest, rent, utilities, protective equipment, or certain other business expenses.
Restaurants have been singled out for particular support in the Act, with $25 billion allocated specifically to provide grants of up to $10 million per entity, or up to $5 million per physical location if the restaurant is a chain, according to Small Business Trends. Restaurants owned by women, veterans, and socially/economically disadvantaged individuals will be given priority.
Other grants may also be available for struggling performing arts producers, operators, and promoters. The Save Our Stages Act, signed by former President Donald Trump in Dec. 2020, will offer $15 billion grants, starting in April. According to National Public Radio, the grants will be available not just to music venues, but small movie theaters, museums, live theater venues, and even unconventional venues like zoos and aquariums.
For more information on Small Business Administration grants, guidelines and other resources, visit sba.gov.
A dismal start to 2021 leaves supply chains in chaos
A port in Los Angeles is three weeks behind and there’s a traffic jam of ships. So, containers don’t get off the ships. That means an automaker doesn’t get its parts for an SUV and then, an autoworker is laid off in the Midwest.
That is why they call it a chain.
Like a pretty line of dominoes, the global supply chain worldwide is resilient, but also is exposed to danger from weather, accidents, and miscellaneous oddities.
This global supply chain has taken some hits since the beginning of 2021.
In February, freezing weather in Texas disrupted plastic production, so there was a shortage of materials for things like smartphones.
March was especially ugly as a chip factory in Japan was damaged by fire and car production stalled in Asia.
Meanwhile, at the end of March, one of the world’s busiest shipping arteries shut down as MV Ever Given was hit by a sudden wind blast in the Suez Canal. The 1300-foot container vessel was blown sideways to completely block the canal. In just three days, about 240 ships were stalled at the canal entrance, awaiting some solution.
One possibility was rerouting ships around the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa, adding an estimated 3,800 miles and 12 days to the route. Meanwhile, along the coast of East Africa, pirates gathered with an eye toward targeting more ships traveling the coast, threatening further turmoil.
Oil prices jumped 3 percent in one day, but it wasn’t just oil at issue. According to the Wall Street Journal, the delivery of key materials worldwide was disrupted. Supply chains were already clogged on the U.S. west coast, where ports were jammed with traffic, delaying the flow of inventory for about a month. The ports on the West Coast handle more than a third of U.S. container imports.
This year, businesses struggled to restock following the coronavirus shutdowns, causing a shipping traffic jam.
How to discuss salary expectations in an interview
If you have a job interview coming up, you may be anticipating a question about salary expectations. Here are a few tips to help you avoid underestimating your worth or risking rejection by asking for too much.
Avoid specific figures
Ideally, the question of salary will only be brought up once the recruiter has clearly expressed interest in your candidacy, as this puts you in a better position to negotiate. If the subject comes up early in the process, however, explain that you’d rather wait to discuss salary but that you’re confident you’ll be able to come to an agreement.
That being said, the recruiter may still try
to deduce your expectations by inquiring about your current salary or asking what your minimum rate would be. In this case, you can mention that your current job doesn’t have quite the same responsibilities as the open position and that you’d like to know more about the company’s expectations for the role before you discuss specific numbers.
Despite your best efforts, you may end up in a situation where the recruiter insists on an answer. Therefore, it’s a good idea to research the average for this type of position beforehand and inquire about the company’s salary range to help you determine a fair rate. Be sure to emphasize that you’re open to negotiation.
Finally, keep in mind that you’ll have opportunities to revisit your salary after working with the company for a few months.
3 tips for contacting an employee at a company you’re interested in
If you want to learn more about a company before you apply for an open position, one option is to reach out to a current employee. Here are three tips to ensure the interaction goes smoothly.
1. Talk to the right person. Make sure you contact someone who’s familiar with the role you’re interested in, preferably someone with seniority. If you can’t get a referral through your friends and former colleagues, use the company’s website or LinkedIn to identify the right employee.
2. Avoid being intrusive. Opt to send the person an email or a message on LinkedIn rather than call them. Introduce yourself and briefly explain why you’re reaching out. Conclude with a request to schedule a phone call or meeting. Alternatively, you can use professional events to network.
3. Prepare your questions. Write down what you want to know about the company, so you’re ready if the person agrees to speak with you. Prioritize three or four questions to avoid taking up too much of their time.
Finally, be sure to remain polite and professional at all times.