How To Kickstart Your Job Search

Around the first quarter of ever year, lots of people feel motivated to start searching for a new job. However, launching a job search can be daunting and time consuming, and plenty of people quit before they even get going. TSP is a company that believes in hiring great people and providing many opportunities to employees, and we believe in encouraging job candidates everywhere to find the best fit.

Be open to companies that might be hidden gems.
Lots of people want to apply to big companies with strong branding, and the idea makes sense. Sometimes there’s a comfort level that comes with a household name. However, a big name doesn’t mean much when it comes to employee satisfaction. When checking job boards and doing research on which companies you want to apply to, keep an eye on social media and any awards the business may have won for having a great work environment, happy employees, and perks that make the job even better. A company’s culture may be hard to spot from the outside, but taking the time to look at culture will help you narrow down those places you’ll be happier working with in the long term.

Concentrate harder on applying to fewer jobs.
The Internet has made “spray and pray” job applications easy, allowing job seekers to plaster the job market with thousands of applications as quickly as they can click. However, though algorithms and computers often choose who gets through the first round of applications, it’s not always good to write your resume to please the machines. Instead of busting out as many applications as possible, try focusing on just a handful and make them really count. Get your “resume SEO” in to show you have the right qualifications, but personalize each cover letter to prove you’re genuinely interested in both the job and the company. You might be surprised at how much time you actually end up saving—and how much better the resulting response is. Think quality, not quantity.

Only apply to jobs you’re genuinely excited about.
This rule goes hand in hand with the tip about applying to fewer jobs overall. When you blast the application world with countless resumes and don’t even remember where you applied (or why), if you do get a response, you might not even know who’s calling and your reaction will probably be bland and confused. However, if you get a response from a job posting that you couldn’t wait to hear about, you’ll be ready to engage right then and there, which will instantly set you apart a worthy candidate. Only applying to jobs you’re actually interested in will save a lot of time, plus ensure that you have plenty of enthusiasm and background knowledge when you hear back about scheduling an interview.

The Kanban – A System for Controlling Chaos

By: Serena O. Conour, Systems Specialist, Industrial Automation Solutions, TSP

We could all benefit from a little more organization in our lives, right? Well, with items you probably already have in your workspace or even your home office, you can redefine productivity. Some of TSP’s teams have adopted a technique that proves a dry-erase board, some post-it notes and motivation is all it takes.

Taiichi Ohno, an industrial engineer at Toyota, developed a uniquely productive tool called a Kanban board, which is Japanese for billboard. Based on supply and demand, this system helps organize the logistical flow of a process. The effectiveness of this tool became immediately evident to the world, and it has since been implemented in industries across the globe. Our team, the industrial automation solutions (IAS) business unit on-site at Calhoun, was one of the first TSP crews to implement this practice. Once we found it was extremely successful, we shared with other team members, and it has spread like wildfire!

One of the most valuable aspects of this tool is its diversity, as it can be tailored to fit almost any industry: from retail to manufacturing, and even organizing the minutia of everyday households.

As a technician, the Kanban can be utilized for things like parts management, maintenance tracking, or production.

The premise behind our task board is simple – we divide tasks into three categories: needs to be done, doing, and done. We can generate new ideas, assign them a priority and attribute them to a specific technician. Once dispersed, the technician will follow the task until it is completed and a CSR is generated and closed. The different color note cards represent a “Fix,” “Improve,” and “Maintain” structure, which helps us stay on top of tasks that aren’t necessarily applicable to the preventative maintenance system. “Improvements,” for example, would be writing procedures, building test benches, or finding other ways to improve the process. “Maintain” would include activities like: new ideas for down days that aren’t listed on the shutdown list, picking up office supplies or organizing the parts lockers. The “Fix” category is meant to note things we find on the machine that need to be repaired, or parts that have been replaced due to failure, but have not yet been fixed. Once notes are completed, we sign and date them and collect them for using on our next quarterly business review (so the customer can see how great #TSProckstars are)!

Here at Calhoun, we also use a Kanban for parts management. From the moment a part is pulled from inventory to when the replacement part is picked up from receiving, it is tracked every step of the way.

The use of Kanban for tracking parts has vastly improved our consumables replenishment and helps keep our site on top of the day-to-day parts orders that tend to fall off the radar. Tracking parts from multiple vendors, across various systems, can be time-intensive. Having a visual representation of those parts orders helps keep a timeline of where the parts are and when they are supposed to arrive.

Our note colors for this chart are based on vendors: yellow for one vendor, red for another vendor, and blue for TSP. As data on an order is received, the note is updated with order numbers, tracking info or RMA numbers. Once a part has been received, the notes are used to fill in an inventory spreadsheet at the end of the week and then discarded.

Both of these Kanbans have become invaluable tools to complement our 5S plan for creating a lean, organized workspace. The Kanban board is just one small step in the progress we are making in our Calhoun office. The Kanban board symbolizes the “standardize” pillar of the 5s system (Standardize, Sort, Shine, Set in Order, and Sustain) that we implement here at Calhoun to improve operations. Look out for a future TSP blog on the 5s system! We encourage every company to customize and implement the Kanban board in their own unique way. It has truly helped us improve productivity, stay on top of tasks, and not let anything fall off the radar for our customers.

How Does TSP Keep Service Costs So Competitive?

by: Chris Hainey, Critical Teams Operations Coordinator, Enterprise Solutions, TSP

My official job title is “Critical Teams Operations Coordinator.” In other words, I help manage the engineers who are there to stop the bleeding and resurrect functionality when technology doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do. My focus is on issue resolution for the end user, keeping maintenance schedules in line, implementing new systems, making sure ticket turnarounds are quick, and documenting everything so the next problem solver can find the answer even faster.

For more than ten years, I have been working in IT with companies such as Texas Instruments, Bank of America, and PepsiCo, but one thing has really made TSP stand out as a great company. TSP is stellar when it comes to choosing awesome team members, then using the people they already have to meet emerging needs.

So many companies see a need develop and automatically bring someone in from the outside to take care of it, but TSP looks inside the organization first to find the right resources and solve problems. It’s easy for us to shop for solutions in our own pool of talent because we know we already have great people who can handle new challenges and are eager to keep developing their skills.

TSP deliberately scouts employees to train for extended service, which is part of why we’re able to be so agile when it comes to meeting developing needs. Looking inside first is part of why we can start helping clients with additional services so quickly, and internal talent scouting and continual cross training is why we can cover extended PTO time for employees when they need it. We can do more with less without disrupting service to the client, and we also deliver incredible services at a lower cost than competitors.

Using what we have empowers engineers to spot other areas where we know we can make life easier for clients. We’re diverse and continually achieving updated training, so we’re more likely to notice ways we can improve the way we help clients. We put ourselves in the customer’s shoes and try to think of how we can make things better.

Every company has their own way of doing things, but TSP’s philosophy of investing in internal talent is part of what makes us special. Rather than spend more time and resources shopping outside when a need emerges, we save time and money by focusing on the talent we have. It’s a philosophy that makes employees happy and gives clients better service at a great cost.

TSP’s Top Tech Tips for Computers

TSP is all about simplifying technologies and processes for our clients. From preparing a solid maintenance schedule to ensuring things are fixed before they break and being there for those times an emergency does happen, we want to take headaches away. So today, we’re sharing some of our favorite Top Tech Tips that might save you a little time. They’re not rocket science, they’re just little secrets we’ve collected that most people don’t seem to know about—but would make a big difference.

Customize your online reading experience with just two keys.
Sometimes reading on the web can make you feel like Goldilocks—the text is either way too small or way to big, but rarely just right. But did you know that text size is totally in your hands? To increase or decrease text size on a Microsoft computer, press + or – plus the control key; each tap of the + or – will increase or decrease text size one increment. For Mac users, substitute the control key for the command key.

Use the space bar to scroll down a page.
When you’re reading on your desktop, forget trying to slide your fingers just so on a mac mouse or navigate that click-wheel to scroll down web pages. Instead, tap the space bar, which will move the browser down exactly one page. To go back up a page, press shift and space bar. This trick works no matter what browser or brand of computer you use.

B is for blackout.
Most of us encounter PowerPoint regularly, whether we are usually presenting or watching. PowerPoint was made to help us focus, but sometimes slides end up being distracting, and attendees look at the slides more often than the speaker. If you’re presenting and you want to turn the slide off momentarily, just press the B key to black it out. Press B again to get the slide back. For a whiteout instead of a blackout, press W.

Clean up your Mac desktop with just two clicks.
Too many desktops out there are cluttered beyond belief. Files are helter skelter, and there’s no real system of organization. To do a ten-second clean sweep on your Mac, leverage some of these instant cleanup tools. Go to the desktop and right click, then Sort By and Snap to Grid. That way, icons on the desktop will immediately sort into neat rows and columns. To further organize, right click the desktop again, click Sort By, and scroll to the dropdown item that sorts your files the way you want most. You can sort by date created, date modified, size, tags, name, or file type.

Encouraging a Proactive Attitude in Company Culture

At TSP, our product is our people. We don’t write code, manufacture anything, or create a product that ships in a box—we serve clients, solve problems, and try to make life easier for the people we work with. When your business creates and sells a product, everything you do is focused on that product, but when your “product” is service, you have to stay focused on the people who are actually carrying that service out every day.

A product is simple. It is one thing and does one thing, and changes in the product are concrete. But people are complicated. Human beings have unique perspectives. We can make decisions and interact with environments and other people. Human beings can solve complex problems and offer innovative insights.

Company culture is the way a company feels to work with and the way people on the team generally treat one another. Culture is an essential component to every business, but at TSP, because people are our product, culture is paramount. The way we feel about what we do and how we interact literally affects the way we work with clients and one another, which is the heart of our business.

We don’t believe in pigeonholing people.
Many companies operate under strict systems where employees are expected to do specific jobs that uphold “the way things are done.” TSP doesn’t quite work like that. TSP is all about solutions, and in the service world, nothing makes you more cutting edge than being able to see creative ways out of a problem. That’s why we encourage proactive thinking that gets the job done better, faster, and with fewer roadblocks and headaches.

You have to trust your employees.
So many companies don’t truly trust their employees. They want people to do what they’re supposed to and remain in narrow roles. But running a business this way keeps opportunities at bay. We want to be open to new opportunities that can only be seen by the people working onsite with clients. It’s a leader’s job to set the overall vision of a business, but leaders can’t do every job within a company, so we want to be open to every employee’s perspective. Great companies trust employees to think of new ways to make things better.

You have to listen.
TSP trusts our engineers to see great opportunities, and when they bring up an idea for an improvement, we pay attention. If you don’t give people a chance to speak and really listen to what they say, people will stop innovating.

“Proactive” doesn’t necessarily mean “rogue.”
Fostering a work environment that encourages independent thinking doesn’t mean you’re creating a workplace where anything goes and people do whatever they want. So many companies fear independent thinking because they assume employees will go too far off the map and they just want things done a certain way—their way. But independent thinking doesn’t equal thinking that derails processes. When you empower people to come up with creative solutions, the team is stronger, and systems develop naturally. There is almost always a better way to do something, and extra perspectives will help you find it.