Esports Job Spotlight: Agent

We ask Excel Esports chief people officer Joel Holmes-Darby and esports headhunter Joe Hills (formerly of recruitment firm LFG) for their advice in HR and recruitment respectively…

What is HR?

HR (human resources) traditionally deals with health and safety, workplace policies, employment law, payrolls and holidays, as well as the hiring process and staff departures.

“This is what I’d call HR administration,” says Excel Esports chief people officer Joel Holmes-Darby. “And that is still really vital, it’s still a core function but there’s an old-school thought that this is all HR is. It’s why we call it ‘people management’, because it involves having strategic conversations about your people.

“Yes we may provide products and services, but our biggest asset is our people, whether it’s the players or the people behind the scenes. And that’s our biggest cost base too. It’s about developing and growing people, and making sure they’re focused on the right priorities.”

Joel says that modern HR is more strategic than traditional HR/administration.

“Good strategic HR management is about looking at an organisation and whether it has the right resources, at the right capacity, doing the right jobs. That also incorporates recruitment, learning development strategies and it also includes performance management,” he says.

Joel adds that you can have talented people, but they need to be motivated too. So how can you improve that motivation? How can you continually develop your talent?

“Employee wellbeing is super vital here. Looking after the health and wellbeing of your employees is, for me, a moral obligation of a modern-day organisation, it shouldn’t be optional for companies to do,” Joel explains.

“There is the business angle that if you’re looking after your employees really well, they’re going to be more motivated, but for me that’s a side benefit. The core benefit is satisfying the responsibility organisations have to ensure the people working for them are happy and healthy and motivated, as best you can. Obviously you can’t influence what’s going on outside of the workplace, but you have total influence over the workplace environment. And people spend a third of their lives in the workplace, so it’s a big responsibility.”

Joel continues: “Culture management is important too. And goals come from performance management. We as an organisation set a strategy, which gets broken down into tactical plans to cover different time periods. Within these, there will be team objectives. So our commercial team will have objectives, our esports team will have objectives, then that filters down into individual people.

“It’s about how we ensure that each individual person knows what their personal objectives are, not just for the sake of setting objectives, but for them to have personal purpose: how they tie into the team objectives, how that ties into the tactical plan and how that feeds into the overall strategy.”

What about recruitment?

Recruitment in a nutshell is about finding the best person for the job.

Recruiters will work on behalf of a client to find a suitable person for a specific job role. The service is usually free for the individual; recruiters make a living by charging clients (companies). This type of work is usually outsourced, with companies using third-party recruitment agencies.

There aren’t tons of recruitment agencies within esports, but as the sector continues to grow, there is a greater demand for jobs – including people with a specific skillset.

Joel from Excel says: “If I want to use a recruitment agency, it’s because I want to access a talent pool that I may struggle to access through other means. For example if I’m looking for a specific senior role. We hired our chief commercial officer, Robin McCammon, from Adidas, in this way.”

How to get into esports recruitment

Joe Hills, an esports executive formerly of agency LFG (Looking For Group), states: “There aren’t any real qualification requirements for this role. You need extensive consultant level experience in executive search where you are comfortable pitching to clients and confident in your network of high potential talent.

“Building case studies of successful placements is key to winning work. Be successful elsewhere, then blend your esports passion into business development meetings with potential clients.

“My best advice is to choose an industry or discipline that you truly enjoy and love learning more about. It’s common for exec search and recruitment firms to push you into a certain mould. If they don’t have faith that esports is a viable vertical or that you should focus elsewhere, all you can do is prove them wrong and educate internally (around the potential of the industry etc).”

Joe says that this kind of job requires extensive knowledge of corporate esports organisations, candidate identification and approach strategies, flexible account management with clients and a genuine passion and desire to see esports mature and professionalise further.

Working hours and salary

HR and recruitment is generally a 9 to 5 type job area, but the option of self employment with the latter brings flexibility.

Salary is based on your experience and skill level, where you work and who you work with.

According to Payscale, the average HR salary in the UK is £25,000. 

In terms of recruitment, according to, trainee recruitment consultants start on around £15,000 to £20,000, with senior consultants earning £28,000 to £35,000.

Managers and more experienced recruitment consultants can earn £40,000 to £60,000 or beyond, but bear in mind these figures are averages for general recruitment roles, and are not esports-specific.

More info

If you’re a ‘people person’, HR may suit you. You are constantly dealing with people and helping them, so having good communication and social skills are welcome, and it can be a rewarding role helping people reach their goals. 

In terms of recruitment, Joe Hills comments: “Perks include engaging with esports leaders on a daily basis and making a tangible mark on the industry. Indirectly improving an industry you care about is exceptionally satisfying.

“The challenges are really around the narrowness of the industry. Not all organisations have the budget or requirement to use these services, so it’s more about understanding your own position, where you really add value and networking appropriately.

“It never hurts to be a genuine person as well. Genuine people make good impressions and build solid relationships. I’d advise dropping the corporate way of speaking pretty quickly… honesty wins over everything. Be yourself!”