When Is The Right Time
To Hire An Agent?
When Is The Right
Time To Hire
Written by Lois Lane
🕒 September 29, 2020
Working in journalism doesn’t afford a lot of extra funds for resources, like an agent.
On the other hand, a qualified representative, at the right cost, can be worth the expense. First, you need to know whether an agent is appropriate for your situation.
If you’re early on in your career, and just getting your feet wet, an agent is an unnecessary expense that won’t make up for your lack of professional experience. Less than four years into your career? Save the money and cut your teeth in small newsrooms, where you can learn and make low-stakes mistakes.
If you’ve got the experience, and a specific goal of reaching a certain market, or breaking into a role as an anchor in a top 20 station, an agent may be the right tool to get your reel in front of a news director.
Big markets tend to draw a mass of applicants. And, whether they’re experienced or not, that may distract the hiring manager from ever getting to your application.
An agent can use his or her ties in the industry to elevate your resume reel to a more visible position in the stack.
Your agent can also act as the go-between to help argue for the pay you’re seeking. They can also eliminate the time-consuming back and forth over contract details. While you focus on finding an apartment in your new city, and tying up any loose ends where you are, your agent can help secure your employment agreement.
There is no shortage of agents to represent you. However, finding the right one who acts in your best interests, instead of their biggest paycheck, can be difficult.
Many agencies have a presence on social media, and post often about their client’s new deals. So don’t be afraid to reach out to the news personalities on Facebook, or their newsroom email, to ask about their experience with their agency. Customer reviews are useful for many purchases, and an agent is no different.
You may learn the agency was relentless in pursuing the right gig for their client, and making sure the wages and timeframe were just right. Or you could learn that the agent barely put in any effort, but still collected payment from the client when the journalist secured the new job on his or her own. Don’t be afraid to ask existing or past clients about the relationship.
Some agents require up front payments while others collect a certain percentage from your new contract agreement with your next station.
In certain scenarios, an agency may expect to profit from your placement for the length of the contract, meaning a percentage is taken out of your paycheck every pay period.
Be sure to work out an agreement with your agent that makes sense for the market and salary you’re moving to. If the station is only offering $50,000 for an anchor position, and the agent expects an 8 percent cut, you will only be earning $46,000 before taxes.
If you have a decent chunk of time left on your current contract, and you’re open to a few different locations for your next job, it may be worth casting a net early. Just to see if you catch any interest from news directors on your own.
If you don’t hear back from hiring managers on your own, and you’re set on a specific market, date, and pay, it may be worth employing an agent to help promote you.