Today we’d like to introduce you to Robyn L. Coburn.
Robyn, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My parents were both entertainers who traveled the world while I was young. It’s not surprising that I chose a career in theater. Over 30 years I have been a costume, scenic and lighting designer and worked in every kind of theater from community to educational to “Broadway” style, both in Australia and the US. Along the way I gained a Bachelor of Creative Arts with Honors, majoring in Theater Design and Technology. I’ve been a technical director and taught theater tech to actors.
When I came to the US in the early 90’s, I worked first in community theater, and then was a freelance art department worker and later production designer of independent films. I loved the work, which often needed ingenuity to make the limited budgets work. It was a great learning experience and, as a bonus, I met my husband on one of my first films.
Unfortunately, I was sidelined by a car crash in 1997, and then just as I was ready to return to work, I found I was pregnant. So I took a side street into writing, and mixed media art and design, while we raised our home schooled daughter. I wrote screenplays and a crafting column about upcycling for a Canadian magazine. I was involved with alternative home education and mindful parenting communities, including writing for magazines and speaking at Conferences, something I still do.
Then I was offered the fantastic opportunity to write the authorized biography of my late father-in-law, the Oscar (R) winning actor James Coburn, on behalf of the James and Paula Coburn Foundation. “Dervish Dust: The Life and Words of James Coburn” is currently being submitted to agents.
Meanwhile, my husband, a production sound mixer, was teaching at a film school. Some of his students asked him for help with their resumes, and he asked me for my input since I had a lot of experience in hiring as a Department Head. It only took a couple of these to show me that there was a real need for someone who knew about the specific conventions of entertainment industry resumes to help these new folks get started in production. My business grew from there, and started to expand to other kinds of business, office and retail resumes and cover letters, as people started referring me to their friends and family.
My different interests have resolved into my mission statement – to run businesses that help others succeed. To that end I have my Done-for-you services, blog, and books about resumes, with upcoming endeavors including how-to courses about resumes and job hunting, and what will be a series of Creativity Support classes and events.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
As a creative entrepreneur, one of my biggest challenges is focusing on a single activity from the multitude of interests and passions. It took me a while to find a business I could scale and have an expectation of eventually earning a consistent income. My arts practice, while fulfilling, was not on track to be sufficiently lucrative. My hidden talent for resumes had only just emerged when I was asked to write the James Coburn biography. This book has been a huge project, including 6 months of serious academic research, interviewing people, and then doing the actual writing over the course of almost three years.
My two biggest struggles over the last three years have been in managing marketing with limited funds, and navigating the competing priorities of my big writing job, family obligations, and keeping my business rumbling along. There are only so many hours in a month which limits how many one-on-one clients I can work with. Some of my passion projects have had to go on hold, but they are still there, percolating in the background.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Robyn Coburn Resume Review – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I help people with resumes and cover letters, and coach them in job applications, interview techniques and professional networking, to enable them to find their dream jobs. I also provide feedback and tips about portfolio organization, website design, personal bios and goal setting. I love my work because I am truly helping people on a path to success. I learn more and improve my own skills with every client.
My specialty is the entertainment industry, but I also help people returning to the workforce after a gap, recent grads, and college students seeking internships or grad school admission. My approach is to learn as much as I can about my clients, both through my new client survey, and direct feedback by email or phone.
Many of my clients need help formulating a job search strategy, while others are challenged by the changes in job hunting, and by extension resume formats, in the last few years, especially the changes brought by automation with Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and online applications. I have a strong ability to analyze a job listing, determine the keywords and key concepts, which has helped my clients land interviews in different sectors. I also spend time reading white papers, interviewing people working at the top of the industry, and staying abreast of trends, like the new Microsoft Resume Assistant at LinkedIn.
Luckily most film and television production jobs are still filled the old fashioned way, through referrals and recommendations, so I also coach my clients in networking techniques and offer training in things like cold calling and company research. But most of all, I stress the importance of networking. My mantra is “Network, network, network.”
The other thing that sets me apart is my payment structure and on-boarding process. I offer potential clients three free notes on their current resume to ensure that we are on the same page. These are not just a line or two, but quite comprehensive and valuable. They give people a clear idea of how I can help them.
Then, while I insist on a deposit to start, my clients don’t need to pay the balance until they find paid work, or when they can. This is especially helpful for recent grads just starting out. I also offer free updates for a year, which helps my freelance clients while they learn to do their resumes themselves.
Recently I was accepted as a volunteer with a non-profit organization. Chrysalis helps homeless and low-income people find jobs through training and support. I do one-on-one consultations with clients to write their resumes, practice job interview skills, and fill out online job applications. It has been truly rewarding to help people realize that they have more skills and good prospects than they realize. I just love writing resumes.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
The biggest changes I plan on making are in scale, especially now that my daughter has grown up. My current goals are to be able to serve more people through offering online courses, and take on fewer direct clients. Completing my “Work in Production” book series is a big goal. I’ve published two e-books, so I am at the half-way point.
I have quite a list of passion and practical writing projects in various stages of conception, including screenplays, a novel, another biography, some arts and crafts related books, and some television treatments. The biography has been a huge undertaking, both in terms of time and emotional energy. It has been like an ice shelf rumbling over the world, covering everything in its path. Only now as the glacier is melting, am I rediscovering the other projects in my personal landscape.
One of them is a new creative business idea that my husband and I are in the process of developing – designing and publishing instructions for middle-schooler’s arts and crafts based school projects including models, miniatures and dioramas of different kinds, across all subjects. This would be a big change in how I work, because of the expectation of hiring assistants. That is a whole ‘nother story, as they say.
My long term dream is to run an artists’ and writers’ retreat, in my own haven somewhere beautiful. I’d like to host special events, and offer programming stemming from my interest in creativity support.
- Done-for-You Resume package $220
- Done-for-You Resume and Cover Letter package $310
- Portfolio Review $95
- Website: http://WorkInProduction.com
- Phone: 213-500-6412
- Email: RobynLCoburn@gmail.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dezignarob/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WorkInFilm/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/IggyJingles
- Other: http://tinyurl.com/y7yr9hmk My e-books on Amazon
Robyn L. Coburn