• 5 min read • •
Getting a job in esports
I would say that, on average, I get about 10–15 messages on Linkedin from people who are huge esports or gaming fans every month. They all are interested in the holy grail of a job in the gaming or esports space. I thought it would be good to publish a quick article on how to actually make that happen.
The truth is that working in the space has IMMENSE rewards and can make going to work every day a lot of fun. Lunchtime League games and guild runs in WOW made bonding with co-workers easy and sharing a passion for something together can really unify a team. Despite all of this, a job in esports is just that. A job. I came up through the accounting and finance track, so my team and I did everything from pay bills, review contracts, produce financial statements and all the non-exciting things that exist in non-gaming companies.
With all of this in mind, I give you four tips for finding your dream job in gaming.
Develop a skill that an esports company needs
I realize that telling you this is like telling someone who is thirsty to get a drink of water but let me explain. You will likely not get a job working for Blizzard or Team Liquid just because you absolutely LOVE their game or team. Each one of these companies has real needs within the organization and they want you to fill those needs as much as you do. I had a 15-year career working as an executive with non-gaming companies. I used that experience to get into a company I really wanted to work for.
Companies need accountants, HR professionals, developers, designers, community managers, sales teams, marketing and everything in between. Don’t just ask for a job and hope your enthusiasm carries you. If you want to work in community, get a job at a regular company working in customer service. Work your way up and leverage your career to get where you want to go. What sounds better to a game company? A person who doesn’t have experience working with a CRM, has never worked in customer service and plays the game 40 hours a week? Or a person who has 4 years of experience, has worked with Zendesk, has managed a team of six, understands ticketing escalation systems and plays the game 15 hours a week?
The second person gets the call every time. The reason? Because loving the game doesn’t make you good at your job. What the game publisher wants is for someone to own that role. Demonstrate that you are a professional at whatever you do and you can find a way into your dream organization.
Apply to the company you want, even if they aren’t looking for your role.
I had a professor in college who told me “the most important decision you will make for personal happiness is choosing a spouse. But the second, is choosing the right job.” He challenged each of us to tailor a resume and cover letter specifically for five companies we wanted to work for. Take a Saturday and invest a few hours in pursuit of that coveted position. It doesn’t matter if they are advertising the need for that role or not. Just apply. The key is to get the letter and resume to the right person.
You need to understand that for every fast-growing company (gaming or otherwise), there are people who work there who are in PAIN. There are problems they are trying to solve and not enough hours in the day. Your goal is to find the person who oversees what you do (if you are a dev or accountant or whatever) and get your resume in front of them. They might realize they need you and your skill set. Believe it or not, this is exactly how I got my start in the industry.
Network amongst gaming professionals
There are meet ups, conventions and parties in the space all the time. Go through your network and find someone connected. Attend a few events and meet the people there. The goal here is to be available before a need is realized.
When a role comes up within an organization (happens twice a month in my career), the first thing we think of is our network. Who wants to go on Monster to sift through hundreds of resumes, most of which are nowhere close to your job description, when you can work with someone you know and like?
Even if you are low level, work your butt off to get a recommendation from your current boss in your current position. Talk to people at these events. We hired a receptionist who just let us know that they were a pro and loved our space. When we had an opening, it was a simple conversation. “Hey, do you remember so and so?? They would be perfect for this”. No ad went out, no spamming Linkedin. We brought them in and after the interview, hired them on the spot. And by the way, they ended up being an outstanding employee.
Networking is one of the biggest missing pieces I see when talking to people starting their career. Everything you do professionally should be about expanding your network, staying in touch and leaving good impressions on people. It separates the people who get dream jobs from everyone else.
If possible, you can also MAKE your own job in gaming
I know this isn’t possible for a lot of folks. However, for people like me and others, there are real opportunities in the space to start a business and earn a living. You can start your own business or go to sites like angel.co and find startups looking for partners or co-founders. Again, I know this isn’t an easy path, but for those that can pull it off, you’re living the dream.
Most of the jobs in gaming and esports aren’t playing the game or being a pro esports athlete. They are project managers, devs, HR, accounting and finance, operations, customer service or administration. The jobs themselves are often not glamorous. For every job that coaches Doublelift in League, there are 50 jobs that make sure he has health insurance or that his computer is networked properly. Figure out where you want to be and invest in getting to that place. Take some time to do the above and tell yourself “By this time next year, I am going to be working at Epic”. Then go do it.
Most people who ask me about a career in this space are not looking to invest in how to get there. Generally, they want me to tell them “here is the easy path for someone who doesn’t have a defined business skill to get a great job in esports”. And I wish it was that simple. The reality is that these roles are coveted because there are so many fans of the space. Unless you know someone pretty high up in an influencial organization, it’s really tough to go down that road and get what you want.
I agree with my professor. The right job in the right space makes a lot of difference in your ability to be happy. Find your dream job and prepare for it. Both you and your employer will be grateful.