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I recruit people to work for A-list celebrities. This is what I look for.

Tim Paradis   

I recruit people to work for A-list celebrities. This is what I look for.
  • Emily Levine is an exec VP at the recruiting firm Career Group Companies in Los Angeles.
  • Levine specializes in finding staff for A-list celebrities, wealthy clients, and top executives.

Emily Levine, 36, is executive vice president at the recruiting firm Career Group Companies in Los Angeles. She finds people to work for A-list celebrities in music and entertainment, high-profile execs, and wealthy clients. The following has been edited for brevity and clarity.

I grew up in LA and have been running my practice at Career Group Companies for about 14 years. The way I started recruiting for some of the bigger names in Hollywood was by getting someone a job who had worked as a personal assistant to a celebrity or for an entertainment company. Then, when they would resign, they would introduce me as the resource to fill their old job.

Celebrities often find themselves in these difficult positions where so many people want to work for them, but they also want to weed out fans. Our clients are really looking for somebody who doesn't have ulterior motives to be in the limelight themselves.

Because well-known people can't just post online that they're looking for someone and sort through all the responses, they go to a more discreet service like us, where we handle these types of searches for the most high-profile people in the world.

The majority of my work is catering to ultra-high-net-worth individuals, family offices, and celebrities. I also work with the C-suite at major companies, though usually in entertainment. I still have my finance clients and fashion clients, but most of what I do is this celebrity niche.

How I find candidates

When it's time to fill a job, usually I'll get a text — a 911 text — that says something like, "Help, we need to find a personal assistant for this confidential person." Or I'll get a call or an email. Then, I do a job intake where I connect with either the talent themselves, a spouse, a family member, their business manager, or their agent to get a deep understanding of the problem I'm trying to solve. What does this person or what does this family need?

I get details — from somebody's compensation to what the schedule will look like. Does it involve travel? Do they need experience being a family assistant or nanny? Will this be a chief of staff or an estate manager job? I have a roster of candidates looking for jobs. I then go play matchmaker.

We have a lot of candidates who know that Career Group Companies is a place to get a job like this. They're applying on our website. I'll get DMs through my Instagram. People will contact me on LinkedIn.

Our job postings are vague. That's intentional because we're under such strict NDAs with our clients. Based on conversations I have with applicants — and on social media checks that I do — I can determine who I feel is suited for this line of work.

With the social media checks, it depends on the celebrity I'm recruiting for, but most people would shy away from applicants with too large of a social presence. Clients would love someone who isn't looking to be in the limelight themselves. It feels like, "Oh, no, is this person going to try to use this job as a stepping stone to become famous, to go on a reality show, or to write a tell-all book?"

People get really concerned about confidentiality and discretion. They want to bring people into their orbit who don't attract much attention.

I have a roster of great, pre-vetted people I can call when I get a job that I feel would be a good fit. I'll connect with a candidate over Zoom. I meet with them, and a few other people on my team will also meet with the applicant. We ask similar but different questions and compare notes.

I'll then send some résumés to a client. The client might ask who are the top two or three candidates based on the résumés I've sent. Someone on the client side might do a Zoom with a candidate. Then, maybe another member of the client's team might grab a coffee with the candidate. Then, they'll typically take the top two and introduce them to the client.

If a candidate gets selected for an interview — even an initial one — I'll send them an NDA. I recently had a client who wanted me to send the candidate a generic NDA. Because if I sent the client's NDA, it would be divulged in the document who the celebrity was. Then, if the candidate moves forward in the process, the client would use their specific NDA.

What I look for

Somebody's résumé tells a story. If they have a new job every six months or every year, it becomes apparent that it could be an issue with the candidate and not previous employers.

Clients really gravitate toward candidates who exemplify loyalty and longevity because even when a job gets hard — and these jobs are very difficult — the client wants to know that their executive right arm, their personal assistant, is going to stick with it.

I tend to find people with experience working in the industry or for high-profile executives. If somebody wants to become an executive assistant to a celebrity, there are certain paths you can take. A talent agency can be a great entry point to this world because it's competitive and fast-paced. Agents can be difficult. You're operating with intensity, and there are many high-profile people around you.

Candidates with this experience usually aren't starstruck because they're already in the industry. They need to be able to handle sensitive information and be a strong communicator. I find that the talent agency route is like executive assistant boot camp.

I also often find that people who were involved in sports in college or high school are super collaborative. They're usually good team players and really determined, disciplined people. In any case, I really need to get to know the candidates to understand their character.

Interviewing — with a celebrity or not — can be nerve-racking for most people. Then add on top of it that you're sitting across from someone that you recognize, and you feel like you know them, but you don't. It can add an extra element of stress.

What it takes to succeed

People need to be pretty flexible to take on a role like this because it typically involves a 24/7 schedule, long hours, and the ability to travel. The executive assistants might have responsibilities around photoshoots, security, the media, stylists and wardrobe, brand partnerships, and agents and managers.

Even if you've been at a talent agency, working in someone's home is much more intimate. Respecting somebody's privacy is key. You're literally in their kitchen or bedroom or traveling with them on their plane. So, it means really understanding that there needs to be a firm boundary between friendship and employer-employee. Often, that line can get blurred.

Career Group Companies has hundreds of celebrity clients. We fly under the radar because we have ironclad NDAs. Some of the clients I've worked with include Kevin Costner, Scooter Braun, Maria Shriver, and the Kardashian-Jenner family.

I've also worked with corporate clients like Imagine Entertainment, Tiffany & Co., Endeavor Group, and Paramount Pictures. With some of these companies, we'll staff their corporate offices, but also the celebrity's homes.

Depending on the size of someone's team, we can be recruiting for a celebrity who has a chief of staff and estate managers. The estate manager oversees housekeepers, chefs, gardening and landscaping crews, pool people, butlers, a driver, and security.

Then you have a chief of staff overseeing perhaps four executive assistants, people who run errands, and the nannies. Then you have people who might have a production company, skincare line, or denim brand. I am tasked to staff their receptionist, HR manager, and their head of design. The list goes on.

I handle these searches with just as much care as I handle my financial services searches because, at the end of the day, whether someone's an investor or an NBA player, I'm dealing with people. It's really the same across the board, but this one gets more attention because people are naturally curious about celebrities.

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