Connect with Torski Dobson-Arnold and William Chichester III on LinkedIn. Visit yourcareerconfidence.com to see special graduation packages through June.
By Joanna Ernst
Meet the career counselors
Known as “America’s Top Career Confidence Coach”, Torski Dobson-Arnold has provided résumé writing and career services since 2007 through her company Your Career Confidence, LLC. Advising ambitious professionals from around the world, Dobson-Arnold works with an eclectic mix of career-driven clientele.
“We work to align your work and your passion to create a career plan that provides flexibility for today’s ever-changing economy,” Dobson-Arnold explained. Services such as job search strategy coaching, résumé and cover letter development and online professional branding are all part of this process.
Dobson-Arnold has made copious contributions to the Richmond community. “I have given to those who do not have the means to invest in themselves by providing Lunch N’ Learn forums with Richmond’s Workforce Development Centers and at area Virginia Employment Commissions on a pro-bono basis,” explained this career coach.
“I also mentor students within the Middle College Program located at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, where we help students ages 18 to 24 become college-ready to live out their best selves professionally.” In addition to these roles, Dobson-Arnold also serves as a board member of the Richmond-based nonprofit F.I.R.S.T Contractors, which prepares young adults for life after foster care and other juvenile systems.
As an undergraduate at Mary Baldwin College, Dobson-Arnold studied Marketing Management. Years later, she received her Masters of Science degree from Troy University in Troy, Alabama, with a degree in Human Resources Management. According to Dobson Arnold, the best part of her education was “attending an all-women college that not only guided us toward our careers of interest but also taught many of us how to lead as women.”
According to Dobson-Arnold, it was her father who motivated her to become a world-class mentor: “My father, the late Donald Dobson, inspired me to become a career coach and speaker and to help others make good choices in their career goals. My dad was laid off after 26 years with one company, and I saw the toll that it took on him and my family to make it without that financial and emotional support. I made a promise to get my college degree and earn my living based on what knowledge I acquired and not what I could do with my hands. (He was a machine operator.)”
“Later on in life, I too was laid off and then fired from a job that was not a good fit for my talents,” she continued. “I knew after the first job loss that I was committed to taking control of my own future and that I would work to inspire others to create a career of confidence, shortly thereafter I created Your Career Confidence. I didn’t choose this path; it chose me.”
With his knack for networking and years of recruiting experience, William Chichester III is a campus recruiter and college and career readiness coach for a Richmond-based Fortune 200 financial company. Working in Richmond, near Washington D.C., and beyond, he plucks out the most promising job candidates from the college and university community.
“I have been broadly tasked with developing innovative sourcing strategies to attract underrepresented college students and graduates into our exploratory programs, internships and full-time programs” explained Chichester, a recently-engaged University of Virginia alumnus who currently lives in Charlottesville.
A third generation Chichester, William is also a first-generation college graduate. “It’s a big deal,” he admitted. “I was blessed to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles to get to college with scholarships and grants. I try to be a resource for anyone who shares my background and also help them to realize the dream of a college education.”
“At the University of Virginia, I studied Foreign Affairs, Arabic, and Middle Eastern Studies,” he went on. “I declared my major the first week of my freshman year. I love UVA, and my fondest memory was living on the Lawn and meeting so many talented student leaders.” During his college years, Chichester was the Career Center’s first ever career peer educator, interacting with counselors, employers and students. Ultimately, this brought him into contact with a lot of campus recruiters, inspiring his interest for this industry.
As the former president of the Ron Brown Scholar Alumni Association and former college scholarship recipient, BET invited Chichester to speak on the TV show, “106 & Park”, to provide financial aid advice to young viewers and encourage college readiness among tween and teen audiences.
This seasoned recruiter has also been active in a program called the 100 Black Men of America. “The mission of the 100 Black Men of America, Inc. is to improve the quality of life within our communities and enhance educational and economic opportunities for all African-Americans,” Chichester explained.
“The Collegiate 100 is an auxiliary organization that extends the 100’s mission on college and university campuses across America. I helped to establish a Collegiate 100 chapter at the University of Virginia and worked to get my current employer to serve as its first corporate sponsor. I also led a career workshop for their chapter, and I mentor all of their members. As a result, they gave me honorary membership into their chapter last year.”
Our career experts answer questions and offer advice
Q. Can you provide a few pointers for jobseekers?
Dobson-Arnold: My biggest piece of advice is to build relationships early and often in your intended career field. It’s much easier to get a job as a referral versus an applicant.
Also, don’t sabotage your efforts with your online brand. As a former speaker for Monster.com, we polled companies and determined that 48 percent of all hiring managers and recruiters Google search their applicants. When this happens to you as a job applicant, will your online images help or hinder your job search efforts? Be careful and manage your online presence with care.”
Chichester: Take self-assessments, such as Myers Briggs and StrengthsFinder, because they will help you uncover the values, talents and personality that best align with possible career options.
Then determine if you meet the basic and preferred qualifications of the jobs you’re seeking. Conduct informational overviews with people who are doing what you want to do. Find out what you need to do to get to where they are. If there is an educational and/or skills gap of any kind, there are lots of ways to close that gap. You can volunteer, intern, obtain certifications, take classes or possibly pursue an advanced degree.
After you’ve completed the assessments and built up your skills, you are ready to pursue the job of your dreams. Get your résumé critiqued; undergo mock interviews; put your best foot forward.
Dobson-Arnold: I would highly recommend that you be original and have a go-getter’s perspective. Always speak to what you can bring to the organization that can add value, solve problems and generate new revenue, new customers and new products and services. Companies will not hire you simply because you are smart. There are lots of smart students graduating. They are seeking new hires that are creative, industrious and willing to take calculated risks to better the organization.
Chichester: Talk with your career center and take advantage of the resources that they have to offer. Be sure to leverage your alumni network. Obtain skills. This is especially true for the liberal arts majors. I recommend specialized masters programs or one-year business programs. These one-year business boot camps are a great way for liberal arts and engineering students to round out their experience with a strong business foundation.
Q. Can you reveal a résumé secret?
Dobson-Arnold: There are absolute deal breakers when it comes to a résumé that gets jobseekers in trouble every time. One of my major pet peeves is the fact that people do not thoroughly proofread their job search documents. Jobseekers, do not depend on the spell checker in your word processing software to do all of the work. Get a mentor to read it; get a teacher or professor to read it and finally; reread it yourself, and make sure all your T’s are crossed and I’s are dotted.
Q. Any other tidbits to reveal?
Dobson-Arnold: Like anything in life, the more prepared you are, the better you are going to be. I read somewhere that people spend more time planning their next vacation than they do planning the next step in their career. Ironically, it’s that next step in your career that dictates whether vacation will be at the river or on a cruise ship to some tropical destination.
This is why I am so passionate about what I do. I believe changing your job is not a matter of “if” but “when” will it happen. So when that next fork in the career road appears, the real question is: “Will you be ready?”
Chichester: Here’s how to impress a recruiter. First, do your homework. Always research the company before any interaction with the employer to be prepared for whatever they may throw at you. Second, have realistic expectations of recruiters. Ask how the process works to find out what to expect as far as follow-up or actions. Finally, be honest, and never exaggerate or mislead your recruiter.
It’s a big turn-off if you don’t follow those guidelines. Recruiters have long memories, and candidates who don’t give us pleasant ones are remembered for all of the wrong reasons. And never apply for too many positions. This tells recruiters at that firm you don’t know what you want to do. Instead, focus your job search.