You can’t get a job without experience, but you can’t get experience without a job. So what can you do to get started?
In the first of a series of monthly advice articles helping you secure a career in esports, jobs site Hitmarker explains how you can get your foot in the door and land some valuable work experience.
We’ve all been there. You’re looking for your first job in esports, you’ve found one that’s aimed at junior candidates, it looks perfect on a first glance, and…
…it requires past experience in the industry.
“That’s why I’m applying to this!” you want to yell, as it’s the fifth job you’ve seen this week that says the same thing.
As frustrating as this situation is, there are things you can do to meet this requirement.
Before we get to that, though, let us introduce ourselves!
We’re Hitmarker, the largest jobs website in esports (and gaming), and we’re here to tell you all about how employment works in our industry. We post thousands of jobs a month and help people break into esports every single day.
We’ve also been in the exact situation you are once upon a time too, so we know just how you feel! Hopefully, you’ll come away from this article feeling more confident about your future in esports and you’ll be armed with a gameplan to take the first steps.
First up: what area are you trying to break into?
Before getting into how to find your first bit of esports experience, we need to address your own approach. One of the most common mistakes people make when job hunting is not targeting their search to make it narrower.
By that we mean rather than saying they’re looking for their first bit of experience in marketing, or in team management, they just go out looking for any job in esports.
“I want a job in esports! I can fill any job your org needs!”
This is a natural first response; you probably want to work in esports because it’s your passion, and that’s more important to you than how you work in the industry.
But this makes it harder for companies to hire you, as you’re putting the onus on them to find your speciality, rather than telling them what your speciality is.
Being an all-rounder can be great. But remember that when companies are hiring, they’re usually looking to fill a certain job with a very specific skill set attached to it.
Saying that you “want to work in esports” won’t fill them with confidence. So instead, narrow your focus to a specific job role or specialist skill. Approaching a company by highlighting your key skills or specialisms is much more effective. We’ve used business development in the below example:
“I’m a natural people person and very performance-driven. I’m looking to build a career in business development and partnerships within esports, and I think your company would be a great place for me to show what I can do.”
Do you see how that is a lot more specific? It tells the hiring manager exactly what you want to do for them, and doesn’t leave them wondering where they could fit you into their organization.
But what if I don’t know what my key skills are!
That’s absolutely fine! Let’s see if we can help you narrow them down.
First, think about your time in school. What did you enjoy? What did you perform best in? Are there any subjects where you naturally excelled? Remember these for later.
Not academically-driven? Not a problem. Think about what you did outside of school. From playing sports, to organizing trips within a local club, to being a confident public speaker: is there anything that stands out where you thought, “Huh, I’m pretty good at this!”. If so, that’s where you start.
Now, try and extract what the core skill you used in those subjects, or extra-curricular activities, was. For some areas, this is quite easy.
- Good at Maths? You’re probably skilled with numbers and data.
- English was your best subject? Written communication is likely your strength.
- You were the go-to person in IT? You might be suited for something technical, like cybersecurity or software development.
In others it can be a bit trickier, but not impossible.
- Always named captain in sports? You’re probably a good leader.
- You were the most prepared person in out-of-school clubs? A sector like project management requires those types of organisational skills.
- Crushed your school presentations time and time again? A job in hosting and presenting might be able to utilise those awesome speaking skills.
To sum up: you can extract a core skill from almost anything you’re good at.
Try it yourself, and you’ll be able to tell a company exactly what kind of value you’ll bring them.
We wanted to address this early, as finding the right approach in a job hunt is step #1 for gaining experience in esports.
If you’ve been able to do that, it means we’re ready for step #2…
Reach out to your network
When you’re looking for a job, whether it’s the first role you’ve ever had or your tenth, utilising your network is key.
Now, we understand this isn’t possible for everyone. If you’re reading this article you might be quite young, and you might not have many connections in esports just yet. That’s fine. But here’s what you can do if you have got an existing network to lean on.
Firstly, think about who might be able to point you in the direction of opportunities that might suit you. These could be people you’ve interacted with in the past or anyone you have a professional relationship with.
If you’re close enough friends, you can also ask if there’s anywhere they could put in a good word for you to build some experience.
If that doesn’t bring you any leads, how about announcing that you’re looking for work experience in esports on your social media profiles? LinkedIn and Twitter are both good places to start there.
You can get people in your network ready to share these when they go live, and ask any that know your skills to vouch for you in the replies.
Who knows, if the right person sees this (and if you include a contact method in the post!) you could have opportunities coming directly to you, instead of having to hunt them out yourself.
Think about what you can do for yourself
When you hear the requirement of “previous experience in esports”, it’s easy to get trapped into thinking this only means professional experience working for someone else. That’s not always the case though.
Depending on what area of esports you want to work in (this is why we addressed that topic earlier in the article!) there might be a passion project you can begin, focused on esports, that showcases and advances your skills. We’ll give you some examples.
Let’s say you’re a video editor and your favourite game is CS:GO. You could mash together video clips from recent events and tournaments to showcase the best kills, the smartest plays, or even the most hilarious fails.
Posting these on YouTube will give you something to show to potential employers. A public portfolio of sorts. Make these sorts of videos consistently, and you could even build an audience (and a brand) for yourself.
By sharing these videos to relevant subreddits and other social media channels you can build your network, grow your channel, and open yourself up to people who could give you constructive feedback.
Then when you go to apply for video editing jobs, you could use your channel as an example of what you can do.
If you’re a writer, then consider looking into making a website on a platform like Squarespace or WordPress to host your work. It’s not as technical as it might sound!
A website you run that is focused on esports, even if it doesn’t get many readers, is another great thing to show a hiring manager and say “look what I’ve done!”.
If you want to work in data analytics, you could generate reports on the industry (there’s a lot of public data out there). Social media? How about making an esports-themed social account that shares scores, updates, memes, or something else? Web development? Producing esports-centric websites or web pages to display on your portfolio can show you know how to design and build websites for the esports audience.
We know this won’t be possible for everyone, but it’s something to consider if you’re struggling to find that first bit of experience under another company. Self-starters are always highly sought-after.
Alice Leaman previously interned for British Esports and she later secured a full-time job there
Internships are one of the best ways to get your start in the industry. Not only do you pick up real work experience (and ideally get paid while doing it), but you’ll also build a ton of connections along the way. Combine that with looking great on your CV, and they’re worth their weight in gold.
Unfortunately, esports internships in the UK are incredibly rare, which is why this wasn’t the first point on the list.
We won’t go too in-depth here, as we’ve covered applying for internships in another guide, but we’ll drop our top tips below:
- Mention the skills you’re most eager to advance in the placement
- Show your passion, but prioritize tangible business skills
- Tailor your application to the hiring company specifically
- Talk about your longer-term career goals, and how the internship would help those
Internships might sometimes be listed as “Apprenticeships” here in the UK. You can check if we have any active apprenticeships on Hitmarker here.
Ah yes, the age-old debate on the value of volunteering in esports! We’re of the opinion that volunteering can be a good entry point into our industry, and we know that many of the professionals working in the scene today got their start through volunteering.
That said, there are some things you should be aware of before committing your valuable free time to an organization or company.
The first of these is whether or not it’s feasible for you to volunteer. Some of you might be experienced professionals from other industries looking to transition into esports. In those cases, lending your time to get an organization off the ground is unlikely to be much of a benefit.
The second is whether your time spent volunteering will be valuable for you. Since you won’t be earning money, there should be something else in this trade for you. It could be any of the following…
- Connections and the opportunity to meet decision-makers in the scene
- Mentorship and the ability to grow your skills
- Something that will stand out on your resume
These can make volunteering worth it in our eyes, provided it suits your circumstances.
Some questions you should ask yourself before deciding to commit to a volunteer opportunity are:
- Are the people I’ll be working with qualified enough to teach me anything?
- Will I have room to learn skills I wouldn’t be able to on my own?
- Will the company look good on my CV? What sort of reputation does it have, if any?
Approaching volunteering with that methodology will help you make an informed decision about whether or not it’s right for you.
We do list volunteer roles on the Hitmarker website. You can also find them with event organizers around the time of a large event, either in person or digital. These can be a great way to meet a lot of industry folk in a short space of time and are the best way to volunteer, in our humble opinion, as they don’t ask too much in terms of a time commitment and look great on a CV.
Esports as an industry is a tight-knit community. It’s our passion for gaming that brings us all together, which means many of the people working in the scene are approachable and quite willing to help aspiring professionals find their start.
If you’re stuck for where to get that first bit of experience, then don’t be afraid to ask someone. Whether that’s a connection you have on LinkedIn, somebody you look up to in the industry or someone you’ve met at an event, you’ll find many will be happy to help.
This is something I did personally when trying to find my first job in the scene. I reached out to a writer I admired, sent them a sample of my work, and they were kind enough to respond with feedback and tips to improve.
We hear stories like that regularly, too. Of course, it’s important to respect someone’s privacy. If you don’t hear back from a message you send, don’t pester the person; they might be busy at that moment in time, and be very careful how you frame your message. Being polite and courteous still goes a long way!
The takeaway here is that if you’re stuck for where to go, don’t be afraid to ask for help. You might be surprised by how many people will answer.
We want to end the article by pointing you in the direction of the entry-level jobs we have on our website. We define these as positions requiring less than one year of professional experience. This link shows all of the roles in the UK matching that filter, as well as those that can be worked remotely.
We update our website every day, so there are always new opportunities being added. Whether you’ve found that first bit of esports experience or not, we’d suggest keeping an eye on that link for any jobs that come up that match your profile.
With any luck, this article has given you a solid idea of how you can go about getting some esports experience under your belt. It gets easier from there – trust us.
Be sure to check out https://hitmarker.net to see all of our available opportunities, both in esports and the wider video game industry. We have roles for entry-level candidates right up to senior leaders, all over the world.
All that’s left to do is wish you the very best of luck in your job search! We’ll be rooting for you all the way, and we’ll be here if you ever need us!
The Hitmarker Team