What does a talent manager do?
Talent managers aren’t people who sit at a desk behind a big buzzer auditioning new singers and dancers for the latest entertainment show. They deal with people who want to work in TV rather than on TV.
Talent managers are responsible for the recruitment of all freelance editorial (creative) staff and sometimes production (organisational) roles. They have an enormous contacts book and much of their time is spent keeping track of the people in it, so if a suitable job arises in their production company, they know who’s suitable and who’s available. Talent managers are also passionate about finding new people. They watch programme credits to see who’s worked on a show and if they don’t know them, will often ask to meet them. They also meet people recommended to them by others.
When a new show is commissioned, talent managers meet with the executive producer and production executive to discuss what they need to make the programme. They talk about the skills and experience required, how many staff are needed, when and for how long. Talent managers put in calls to people who are already on their contacts list and prepare and post adverts on various recruitment sites. They sift through and shortlist the applications to pass on to series producers and production managers to arrange interviews. Depending on the size of the company, they may also negotiate rates and terms and issue contracts. They are often called upon during a production to find extra staff to help meet a deadline or to provide holiday or sickness cover.
Talent managers are usually staff and have worked their way up to very senior production roles themselves before working in recruitment, so they understand the skills and experience required for every job. Depending on the company and the type of programmes they make, they may specialise in certain genres. There are talent managers in most larger production companies, but not always in smaller companies, where the role may be done by senior production managers or producers.
What's a talent manager good at?
- Building contacts: know people in the unscripted TV industry, keep their contact details, have good relationships with talent managers in other production companies and staff at all levels
- People skills: be good at spotting potential and recognising relevant experience, interviewing, listening and negotiating
- Knowledge of production: understand production roles, required skills, the different challenges of working in offices, studios, on location and in the edit
- Multi-tasking: be able to juggle recruitment for different programmes with different skill bases at various stages of production – all at the same time
- Problem solving: always have a plan ‘B’, find staff quickly when needed