Many professionals within the private service and childcare industry see working for a celebrity as the pinnacle of ones career. Imagine working for megastars such as David Beckham, Justin Bieber (maybe not..) or Beyonce? I think many would at least enjoy the challenge of working for extremely high-profile, dummy spitting personalities! So what do you actually need when it comes to working for a Hollywood A-lister or Fortune 100 CEO? I had the chance to have a Q&A with Celebrity recruiter Brian Daniel, who specifically recruits for well known celebrities.
How did you find yourself working in the celebrity/high-end recruitment niche.
Like a lot of the candidates that I represent, I got into the business quite by accident. I met someone from a member of the Johnson & Johnson family, and he needed an assistant at the time. Because my background and skills fit his particular needs, everything fell into place very nicely. After that first personal assistant job ended, my appetite for another gig was strong, so I decided to stay in that field. I worked for a number of high-profile individuals/families in and out of Hollywood. I guess you could wealthiest people I worked for would have to be The Saudi Royal Family.
Why are household/family office professionals so intent on working for a celebrity? What is the big attraction?
I guess it is human nature: The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Having said that, I can’t say that working for a celebrity is “better” – it’s just different. If one started a career working with a HNW family, then it’s natural after a while to be attracted to a Hollywood-style job. And the exact opposite is also true. The bottom line is that you have to evaluate all of the good and bad aspects of each job and decide what’s best for you.
How does one get a job as a celebrity personal assistant or estate manager?
Most of the jobs with celebrities are in what we call “the hidden job market.” Simply put, that means the jobs are word-of-mouth and are not advertised on job sites or obtained through employment agencies. Most celebrities (actors, directors, star athletes, high-profile CEOs, etc.) want a referral through someone they know because they’re so protective of their personal lives. At some point, though, a celebrity will need to use an employment agency or head-hunter because they eventually exhaust all of their options (childhood friends, nieces/nephews, agent’s neighbour, etc.).
What do celebrities look for in a person?
Working for a celebrity is so much more that skill and capability. Mainly, they are looking for someone trustworthy. Above and beyond that, the job really requires a lot of sacrifice. Although the job can be glamourous, it usually requires a lot of hours: 10 to 12 a day. And working 6 days a week is common.
How different is working for a celebrity in comparison to that of a (ultra) high-net-worth individual?
There are pros and cons to every working situation. When working with celebrities, you do have the glamour factor; and meeting other A-list celebrities and getting to go to red carpet events is common. On the flip side, working with high net worth families is sometimes less stressful and certainly less hours, so you have to weigh the benefits of each job with your career goals. Last but certainly not least, working for celebrities usually pays a little (or a lot) less. That’s not always true, but celebs know that having access to the fabulous lifestyle has a lot of monetary value, so they pay less because they can.
Does working for a celebrity add more employability to your resume for future opportunities?
Yes, absolutely! I get calls from high net worth families all over the world, and many of them specifically request someone who has worked for a celebrity. There are a number of reasons for this: First, if a celebrity hired the assistant in the first place, then the assistant is considered trustworthy. Second, working for a celebrity is very time-consuming and gruelling, so if one can take that kind of heat and pressure, then they are a good fit for many billionaires because some of them lead a jet set life with a break-neck schedule.
What type of mind-set should a person have when taking on a position inside a celebrity home or office?
You have to know that you’re basically on-call 24/7. Some people just aren’t ready for that. For that reason, many of my celebrity clients specifically request a candidate that has at least 6 to 8 years of experience working for more than one celebrity, because many personal assistants cave-in under the pressure, so the employers want a seasoned candidate that’s proved themselves to be worthy.
How much mental adaptation is there for a person working for a celebrity for the first time?
Actually, you need a lot. When someone gets their first job with a celebrity (regardless of how the position was obtained), it rarely comes with any type of orientation or training process. You’re thrown into a fire and you have to hit the ground running. One has to juggle personal and professional schedules and constantly be working under break-neck speed to make deadlines.
What should be considered paramount when working as a celebrity assistant?
Every job is completely different, so what’s considered essential for one employer isn’t always true for another. But having a network of contacts is very important because you have to be able to solve problems quickly. You’re not allowed to say “no” to your boss. Building contacts through networking is an important part of that, so everyone that you meet should be put into your phone (and make sure your data is backed-up of course). One small example would be for an assistant to introduce themselves to the managers of all the top restaurants in town so that you can get a table at a popular place on a busy Friday night with no notice.
I would also say that you need to become an expert in all things related to your boss’s profession. If you work for an actor or other entertainment industry professional, then you should be well-versed in the mechanics of how they agents, managers, publicity reps, and movies studios work together.
Finally, knowing about how to book a private jet (and all of the different models) is important. Most celebs don’t own a jet, but use them frequently.
Are celebrities (in general) the most ultra-demanding employers and the most difficult to please?
Unfortunately, I’m going to have to say yes. It’s not that billionaires and high net worth families aren’t demanding to their personal assistants, because they are. But with celebrities, everything is turned up to the highest level. Sure, there are some very kind employers like George Clooney and Steven Spielberg (who are very well-known for being kind and generous to their staff), but many celebrities are used to getting “star treatment,” and it’s very addicting. Once you’ve had a taste of that life, it’s hard to accept things any other way. I guess it’s just life.
For an experienced celebrity assistant what is the next step up?
Honestly, the long-term prospects in the celebrity assistant world are usually somewhat limited. Most personal assistant jobs with the Hollywood types don’t have the kind of long-term career prospects that the high net worth families and billionaires can offer. So it’s very good to do a celebrity personal assistant job at the beginning of your career, then move over to a private family office because the ability to move-up and take on more responsibilities is more prominent.
Feel free to visit Brian’s website, The Celebrity Personal Assistant Network